I am pleased to offer my first quarterly Legislative Report of 2021.
Supporting Our Small Businesses
Recently, I was honored to be named the Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Community Development and Small Business. Our small businesses need our support as we seek to build back together an equitable and robust economy. In the new role, I look forward to building partnerships with our Community Development Corporations (CDCs), Main Streets Associations, and small business across Boston and the Commonwealth to uplift our local and state economy.
During the first 3 months of the year we worked with Governor Baker to secure over $10 million in small business relief grants to over 300 businesses in South Boston, Dorchester, Mattapan, and Hyde Park through the Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation.
Economic and Legislative Agenda for Massachusetts
This session, I am sponsoring an ambitious slate of bills that promotes equitable economic growth, addresses environmental justice, and recognizes our essential workers who continue to sacrifice their time and lives during the COVID-19 pandemic. I am determined to fight for compensating these workers for their dedicated service as we re-enter life from the pandemic.
Our legislative priorities are:
- Granting essential public workers, a 3-year retirement credit for COVID -19 Pandemic service
- Protecting first responders and essential workers from exposures to COVID-19.
- Growing and protecting businesses and jobs in the hospitality and entertainment industry
- Preventing foreclosures and providing tax credits for small property owners for lost income
- Promote diversity & economic opportunity by funding Social Equity grants in the cannabis industry t
- Speed up implementation of electrification and rapid service on the Fairmount Line
- Require diverse participation in state construction projects in Boston
- Make climate change risk analysis a mandatory requirement in the Commonwealth permitting process
Passage of COVID-19 Emergency Paid-Sick Time Fund
Last month, my colleagues and I passed into law an expansion of unemployment assistance, freezing rates for employers, and establishing an Emergency Paid-Sick Time Fund so that workers who are exposed to COVID are not required to use their personal time to quarantine. That $7 billion fund package also includes a provision to exempt PPP loans from state income tax, putting more needed money back into neighborhood small businesses and the state and economy.
COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic Access
The First Suffolk District has been one of the hardest hit areas in Massachusetts during the COVID-19 pandemic. I partnered with community advocates, healthcare leaders and colleagues, to ensure our residents would have equal access to the COVID-19 tests and vaccine. When our constituents with asthma needed us, we were successful in calling on the Baker administration to prioritize asthmatics and others who suffer from this respiratory condition.
To further lead on engagement, I have held community meetings with residents and community health centers to provide information and resources. We have facilitated partnerships between the state, hospitals, and community providers to set up vaccination clinics in Boston neighborhoods.
Full Funding for the Student Opportunity Act
After much advocacy from us and many others, the State recently announced full funding for the Student Opportunity Act, a once in a generation investment in our public education system. This upcoming fiscal year, my colleagues and I will be sending Boston Public Schools over $432 million in education funding and unrestricted aid, an increase of over $9 million from last year, continuing our commitment to excellent education for all our young people.
As we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, I draw inspiration from the stories and examples of the support and good will from neighbor to neighbor. Let’s continue to work together to recover and rebuild our neighborhoods, our city and the Commonwealth.
If you have questions or issues, please feel free to contact me. Thank you for your support.
Yours in service,
Nick Collins, State Senator