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2018 Year End Advocacy Summary

Posted by Kelly Garrity on January 24, 2019

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Competitiveness

Chamber plays a lead role in grand bargain negotiations

Major policy decisions that had more than $5 billion in impact were slated to be questions in the November 2018 election. Because the issues were complex and would have had a significant effect on employers, the Chamber worked with others to negotiate legislative compromises to three of those ballot questions: a paid family and medical leave program, raising the minimum wage, and reducing the sales tax.

The result: All three questions were removed from the ballot and compromise legislation contained important changes for businesses, including a provision that will allow employers to implement their own paid family and medical leave benefits rather than being required to join a state program.

“These decisions will determine more than $5 billion in policy decisions. To understand the significance of this number, compare it with the entire annual budget for the city of Boston, which stands at $3 billion.” – Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce President & CEO, James E. Rooney, Boston Globe Op-Ed, May 14, 2018

Seeing international trade as a local issue

Trade is a key part of our state and regional economy. In early 2018, we testified before the Joint Committee on Export Development. The Chamber also signed onto the Metro Cities for NAFTA coalition, a group of 25 big city chambers of commerce in the US, Canada, and Mexico.

The result:The coalition signed a joint resolution supporting the modernization and renewal of NAFTA. The signed agreement addressed many of the concerns detailed in that letter, including recognizing the importance of cross border investments and maintaining existing supply chains. The Chamber also worked with Governor Baker’s Administration to determine the potential impacts of proposed tariffs on Massachusetts.

“In Massachusetts, we are leading on exports of computers and electronics, financial services, research and development, chemicals — including pharmaceuticals — and educational services. These are goods and services not only producing billions of dollars in economic activity, but also driving our state’s reputation as a global thought leader in key international industries such as life sciences, academia, high-tech and finance.”
– Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce President & CEO, James E. Rooney, Boston Business Journal Op-Ed, March 2, 2018

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Transportation

The high costs of transportation and holding the MBTA accountable

In March, we released Boston at a Standstill: The Cost of Congestion and its Impact on the Regional Economy, showing that the region foregoes billions in potential earnings or lost productivity while commuters sit on gridlocked roads. 

In November, we announced that we would publish an accountability assessment of the MBTA’s progress on the strategic plan created by the Fiscal and Management Control Board in 2017. The report is in partnership with the Conservation Law Foundation and the MBTA Advisory Board. The findings will help to gauge whether current investments, finances, and operational resources are sufficient for the MBTA to meet its needs and goals.

The result: In 2018, the Chamber underscored the impact of congestion on employers and established ourselves as key voice in transportation policy discussions. The accountability report will be released in the first quarter of 2019, and then annually to inform the budget process and capital investment strategy. 

“We’ve seen this over many years: Documents get issued saying, ‘this is the plan,’ in this case making the MBTA the system we deserve, and then they collect dust,” Boston chamber chief executive James Rooney said. “I didn’t agree with all that they put out there, but they came up with a plan . . . OK, that’s your plan. Execute it.” – Boston Globe, November 15, 2018

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Housing

Framing housing as a business issue

Throughout 2018, we showed that housing production is an urgent need for the Commonwealth with persuasive briefs and analysis. The Chamber actively supported Governor Baker’s proposed housing legislation which would have allowed cities and towns to adopt zoning changes that promote housing production with a simple majority rather than the two-thirds supermajority currently required.

The result: The Chamber elevated the role of the business community in discussions about housing policy and Carolyn Ryan, Senior Vice President for Policy and Research, was named by Governor Baker to the Massachusetts Housing Partnership’s Board of Directors. Our work has helped to underscore the need for action in the coming session and generated hundreds of hits on the Chamber website.

The Greater Boston Chamber fully supports the Governor’s legislation and housing choice initiative,” said James E. Rooney, President and CEO, Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce.” – Baker-Polito Administration Meets with Business Leaders to Discuss Housing Choice Initiative, Governor's Office Press Release, March 12, 2018

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Talent & Education

The value of CVTE Programs

In both written and in-person testimony before the Boston City Council, the Chamber stressed the importance of high quality career/vocational technical education (CVTE) and highlighted how the business community can support work to align high school curriculum with the in-demand skills and competencies sought after by employers.

The result: The Chamber is working more closely with Boston Public Schools’ Madison Park Technical Vocational High School heading into 2019. The Chamber will analyze industry and job growth projections to assist Madison Park in developing relevant, data-driven programs that both set students up for employment and meet employers’ needs.


Leading the call for federal research funding

In May, the Chamber led the Business for Federal Research Funding (BFRF) Coalition’s trip to Washington, D.C. to highlight for lawmakers the importance of research funding to our nation’s economic growth and competitiveness. Formed by the Greater Boston Chamber in 2014, BFRF is a national coalition of U.S. chambers of commerce and business associations that advocates for increased research funding in the federal budget.

The result: BFRF expanded to over 80 members in 2018, demonstrating the Chamber’s growing network nationwide. As a result of our collective advocacy, BFRF was able to secure increased funding in the FY 2019 “minibus” spending packages. 

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Health Care

Balancing access and affordability in health care

With major health care bills being debated in the state House and Senate, the Chamber’s consistent message was to support provisions that expand access to world-class care and create pathways for the industry to reduce costs. We also opposed proposals that would add costs to the system or expand state oversight and intervention without recognizing the complexity of our state’s health care system.

The result: The state avoided adopting policies that would have added costs to the system and expanded state oversight. In 2019, the Legislature will look to reignite discussions on health care policy and the Chamber will continue to advocate for limiting state intervention, retaining consumer choice, and containing state spending on health care.

“This is a tremendous letter…Thank you, as always, for your strong leadership and judgment.” – GBCC Member

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But that's not all!

In 2018, the Chamber was a business leader on the Yes on 3 campaign and joined the No on 1 coalition. The Chamber also submitted an amicus brief to the Massachusetts Supreme Court that warned against expanding the Massachusetts Wage Act beyond earned wages because of the impact it would have on business owners.

We also submitted testimony supporting a financial literacy bill, which Governor Baker signed this month, and opposing a City of Boston scheduling ordinance. To see all of our testimony on city, state, and federal proposals, visit our website. Finally, our team authored policy briefs on the impacts of proposed mandated nurse staffing ratios in Question 1, a new short-term rental law, reforms to Massachusetts non-compete law, and comprehensive energy legislation.


Want to know more about how we’re working for you? Visit our Issues and Impact page.