On July 31, 2012, the formal sessions of the Massachusetts legislature ended for the year. However, with more than 6,000 bills remaining in committee, the legislature is still in business and will be until the end of the year. If history is any predictor, be prepared for a busy lame-duck session between now and December 31, 2012. According to InstaTrac Inc., the last time the Legislature adjourned its formal sessions for an election year recess (August 2010 to January 2011), 1,309 bills were taken up, 136 new bills were filed, 201 bills were signed in to law by the Governor and a whole lot more happened under what many thought was supposed to be a quiet period under the Golden Dome. Fast forward to today, when more than 6,000 bills are still pending before the Legislature. Leadership in both branches have publicly stated that work on major bills continue. It is anticipated the legislature is going to keep the pedal to the metal until the end of the year. The takeaway: Don’t let your guard down. You need to be vigilant. So how do you do that?
First and foremost, spend some time this season connecting or reconnecting with your senator and representative. Let them know what your priorities are and look for opportunities to collaborate. This is a perfect time to establish and/or build upon a relationship. Establishing a relationship now will pay dividends once the new legislative session starts next year. It’s as simple as attending office hours or calling your legislator and asking to meet for a cup of coffee.
Second, keep an eye out on the informal sessions going on in both branches. It is surprising how many bills actually move forward. If you have a relationship with your legislator and you see a bill moving forward that will negatively impact your business, ask them to object to it moving forward.
Finally, begin to plan for next year—start thinking about which laws and regulations need improvement to help your business grow. Because the vast majority of legislators are unopposed, they are already beginning to formulate their priorities for next year. From all reports, next year is going to be a controversial year. Tax reform will be a hot topic of discussion in early 2013 that could include broad-based tax increases—gas, income and sales tax will all be on the table. Look for further debate on tax credits, unemployment insurance, mandatory paid sick leave and other issues that may affect your business.