I.R.S. to Crack Down on Corporate Jet Users Who Abuse Tax Code

New York Times

Developers of hangars out at Hanscom for super-polluting private jets for the super-rich, the IRS is dinging your business model. Massport, please get your head out of the bucket of money it’s buried in, and realize you’re morally tainted:

Read More

Weston student wins major STEM award

Johan Coisman of Weston was just named a National STEM Challenge Champion. The 12-year-old was recognized for his research on fighting climate change. His winning idea centers on the concept of making clouds more reflective by changing the size and salinity of water droplets. If you’ve tuned into CBS News recently, you may have seen him demonstrate his project. Congrats Johan!

Local students and National Stem champs show off award-winning experiment

Massachusetts should ban third-party electric suppliers

Boston Globe

Customers typically have three options: stay on their utility’s basic service plan; opt into a municipal aggregation program if their town buys energy for its residents in bulk; or buy from third-party energy suppliers. One problem: Customers who sign up for third-party suppliers routinely get a bad deal. An Attorney General report found that from 2015-2021, third-party retailers overcharged customers by $525 million. Smart commentary by Attorney General Andrea Campbell and Boston Mayor Michelle Wu:

Read More

State boosting EV charging with another $50 million

Boston Globe

These initiatives tackle huge issues, like the convenience of charging for condo and apartment dwellers, the greening of Uber and Lyft, the task of keeping chargers in good working order, and the electrification of heavy-duty trucks. Ambitious stuff.

Read More

Boston’s Seaport has a big problem: climate change

Climate change poses a major risk to Boston’s Seaport district — a neighborhood acutely vulnerable to rising sea levels and intensifying storms. David Abel’s film “Inundation District” — which he screened at the State House — is an in-depth look at the issue. A terrific, as well as alarming, film that puts the climate crisis in perspective.

Senator Barrett addresses an audience at a screening of "Inundation District."
David Abel addresses an audience at a screening of his film, "Inundation District."

Addressing the housing shortage

The housing shortage is on everyone’s mind — and it’s a tough nut to crack. In Lexington, I joined legislative colleagues and concerned citizens to discuss possible solutions. The gov’s housing bond bill is a solid start. Shoutout to the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization for hosting and driving such a huge turnout.  

Senator Barrett speaks to a crowd of concerned citizens about the housing shortage.

Bracing for the costs of climate change

From 2011-2019, there were an average of four U.S. climate disasters per year, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. In 2023, there were 28. At a hearing on the costs and consequences of climate change, emergency planners spoke about the steps we’re taking to brace for extreme weather events as they become more frequent. Example: We’ve added hundreds of natural disaster responses to our climate adaptation plan. Hats off to Sen. Pacheco for chairing. 

Senator Barrett and colleagues hear from emergency planners at a hearing.

Senate passes bill to address wheelchair repairs that can drag on for months

Boston Globe

People who use wheelchairs often face a months-long delay for basic repairs. The State Senate just passed legislation to address it. The bill requires all wheelchairs to come with two-year warranties and cuts the insurance approval process for expired warranty repairs under $1,000. Another crucial piece: Dealers must provide a loaner chair — or reimbursement for one — for most wheelchair repairs within four business days. Props to Senator Cronin for leading on this.

Read More

State charts a new energy future for Mass., beyond natural gas

Boston Globe

Wednesday’s order may have felt like an especially big win for climate advocates, considering how far things have moved, and how quickly. After the proceeding began three years ago, the DPU asked the gas companies to lead the first phase of the process, giving them the ability to write the first draft of a plan for reaching net-zero emissions in 2050. What’s more, advocates said they were shut out of the deliberations after the DPU under Baker took steps to limit their involvement.

Then in 2022, the playing field shifted. Healey was elected governor, and the DPU was filled with her appointees who could rewrite the rules of the game. A bill signed into law earlier in 2022 included language that ensured the ultimate decision would be wrested from the Baker DPU, and handled instead by Healey’s administration.

“Carrying this over to the new governor’s regime was putting it on uncharted ground,” said state Senator Michael Barrett, a coauthor of the 2022 climate bill. “If you’re a gas utility, I think they had every reason to be concerned and this report would bear that out.”

Read More

The bottom line: we need more housing

I met with Housing Authority representatives from Waltham and Concord. A major topic: the Governor’s housing bond bill. Wide agreement that we need more housing. Pleased to see the real estate transfer fee provision included, which would give communities the option to impose a fee on expensive property sales to fund affordable housing projects. The fee — which could be set between 0.5% and 2% — would apply to the portion of the sale over $1 million or the county median home sale price.

Senator Barrett with Housing Authority representatives from Concord and Waltham, and members of NAHRO.