Legislation and public policy provide the basis for action on climate change and the transition to the net zero economy. Passage of the Global Warming Solutions Act in August 2008 established Massachusetts as a leader in climate policy. Since that time, Massachusetts has established itself as a national leader in climate change and clean energy legislation and policy.
Massachusetts cities and towns (such as Needham) exercise powers and responsibilities that have been delegated to them under the Massachusetts Constitution. Their leadership and action are also critical to achieving climate and clean energy goals.
State Government – Legislation and Policy
The work of the Massachusetts legislature and executive agencies through multiple gubernatorial administrations has been the basis for many local projects such as both Solarize Needham campaigns, the RTS solar array and the availability of no-cost home energy assessments and weatherization rebates.
Green Needham has maintained an active dialogue and a productive long-term relationship with our legislators in support of this work. Legislation is implemented in regulation and policy. The size and the scope of the climate change and energy transition are such that legislation is not “one and done”.
Policy is developed and executed by the Governor and his or her appointees; executive agencies of the Commonwealth develop regulations that implement laws passed by the Legislature and signed by the Governor. As results of the legislation and policy emerge, changes are often made.
While we don’t have a specific legislative advocacy team, our ongoing work with Representative Denise Garlick and Senator Becca Rausch are important to the success of the work we do. We also maintain relationships and support organizations that are focused on advocacy.
Town Government – Legislation and Policy
Green Needham has been engaged with local legislation and policy since its inception. This work with Town Boards and staff has been central to many of our projects, past and present. We have built and maintain relationships across our Town government to advance our work.
Town Meeting is the legislative branch of town government.
The Select Board leads the executive branch of town government. These elected leaders set policy and hire a professional chief executive (the Town Manager) to implement those policies and oversee operation of the Town.
The School Committee is the executive board that oversees the Needham Public Schools. As with the Select Board, the elected members of the School Committee set policy and hire a professional chief executive (the Superintendent) to implement those policies and run the schools.
Other elected boards, such as the Planning Board oversee areas of policy but do not directly manage their departments (the Town Manager supervises all town departments other than the schools).
Legislative update – June 2022
A joint Massachusetts House-Senate conference committee has been appointed to reconcile the two energy and climate bills that emerged from the House and Senate.
- H4524, An Act advancing offshore wind and clean energy, is the narrower bill that emerged from the House.
- S2842 is the much more expansive Senate Bill.
The House negotiators are Jeffrey Roy, House Chair of the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities & Energy (aka the TUE Committee), Tackey Chan (D, Quincy) and Brad Jones ( R ). The Senate negotiators are Michael Barrett, Senate Chair of the TUE Committee, Cynthia Creem (D, Newton) and Bruce Tarr ( R ).
Chairs Roy and Barrett, along with Speaker Mariano and Senate President Spilka, are all publicly committed to getting a bill passed by the end of the Legislative session on July 31st.
Green Needham Chair Michael Greis is (in his professional capacity) an active member of the Northeast Clean Energy Council and active on its Policy Committee. He met with several legislators during the annual Northeast Clean Energy Council Massachusetts Clean Energy Day on June 15th. He provided the following brief summary:
The question of what is likely emerge from the conference committee was part of every discussion.
With the understanding that there are no answers to be provided (legislators do not generally know the details of the conference committee discussions, and what they may know is not shared), the sense is that the bill that emerges will have some of the provisions from the Senate bill added in to the core elements in the House bill. There is a clear understanding that more legislation will follow next session. That in itself is a positive indicator. We have been making the case for several years that climate & energy legislation must be an ongoing effort – the climate crisis is urgent and the energy transition has to accelerate.
The Mass Clean Energy Day document provided to the legislators includes the Clean Energy Council’s priorities, which may be of interest.