The South Shore Senator was one of six legislators to negotiate the final version of the bill
BOSTON, MA – Just before the end of the legislative session, the Legislature reached an agreement on An Act Enabling Partnerships for Growth (H 5250). The COVID-19 relief and recovery package will provide the Commonwealth with desperately needed support to the restaurant and tourism sectors, small businesses, as well as those who have been significantly impacted by the Coronavirus pandemic, while also creating a Future of Work Commission, establishing protections for student loan borrowers, and ushering in zoning reforms that will encourage housing development and access in our communities.
Senator O’Connor (R-Weymouth) was one of six legislators responsible for negotiating the final version of the bill over the past five months through conference committee discussions.
“The economic development package will provide much needed support for businesses and industries who have been hit hardest by the pandemic,” said O’Connor. “By investing in housing, providing COVID-19 relief, increasing consumer protections, and focusing on business growth, we are positioning the Commonwealth to build back and be successful in the years to come.”
The legislation includes a COVID-19 State Payroll Protection Program which authorizes $30 million for the Massachusetts Growth Corporation to provide small business loans to those impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic to pay employee payroll, mortgage interest, rent, utilities and interest on other debt obligations.
In addition, it establishes a Future of Work Commission to conduct a comprehensive study relative to the impact of automation, artificial intelligence, global trade, access to new forms of data and the internet of things on the workforce, businesses and economy.
Another key provision is the new Student Loan Bill of Rights which establishes a new general law regulating the licensing and operation of student loan servicers by the Commissioner of Banks; establishes a Student Loan Ombudsman within the Office of the Attorney General for the purpose of receiving, reviewing and assisting in the resolution of complaints from student loan borrowers; authorizes the Ombudsman to assist with repayment options, applying for federal loan forgiveness programs, ending wage and tax refund garnishments, resolving billing disputes, and obtaining loan details.
Housing Choice was also included in the economic development package that implements zoning reform to help cities and towns approve smart growth zoning and affordable housing by lowering the required vote threshold for a range of housing-related zoning changes and special permits at the local level from a two-thirds supermajority to a simple majority. Housing production is an integral part of economic development and recovery - therefore, these provisions will cut the red tape that stands in the way of housing production and provide municipalities with the tools necessary to spur housing production in the Commonwealth.
For a full bill summary, visit this link.
Senator Patrick O’Connor represents the Plymouth and Norfolk district, which includes the towns of Cohasset, Duxbury, Hingham, Hull, Marshfield, Norwell, Scituate, and Weymouth. Sen. O’Connor and his staff may be reached at the State House at 617-722-1646 or by email at Patrick.O’[email protected]