On October 31, 2017, the Massachusetts Legislature’s Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development heard testimony on six bills introduced this session addressing the use of non-compete agreements in Massachusetts. Each of the bills includes provisions that would place restrictions on the use of non-competes, with the aim of introducing more fairness to a dynamic skewed against workers, as Representative Lori Ehrlich argued in her testimony. Business interests claim non-compete agreements hurt innovation, a topic that became a focus of the hearing. The committee also considered arguments to update the state’s trade secret laws as well as to include language in the legislation that provides for strong garden leave and notice provisions in order to induce companies to reduce the use of non-competes. The bills are expected to remain before the committee until after the new year. The Massachusetts House and Senate passed bills to limit the use of non-competes last year, but negotiations between the branches broke down in conference committee. To learn more, please follow the link to our partner page at ML Strategies.
On July 20, 2017, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) released a report directing the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to develop solutions to improve the cyber and physical security and overall resilience of the US electrical grid. The report, which was first initiated by Congress following the massive outages caused by Hurricane Sandy in 2014 and is further driven by recent malware infections found on the servers at a nuclear plant, addresses threats to the grid posed by natural disasters and malicious cyberattacks.
The Massachusetts Senate Committee on Global Warming and Climate Change is hosting hearings across the Commonwealth to gather input on clean energy and climate change. Launched by Senate President Pro Tempore Marc R. Pacheco (D-Taunton), the “MA Clean Energy Future Tour” began its nine-stop tour on May 8 and will end on June 26 in Boston. To learn more about this tour, read on!
Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-OR) recently introduced the “Clean Energy for America Act,” which aims to create a new technology neutral system for federal tax credits for clean energy, clean fuel, and energy efficiency projects. The bill would offer performance-based tax incentives for efficient homes and office buildings, and would significantly reduce carbon pollution over the next decade. Senator Wyden, also a member of the Energy & Natural Resources Committee, received support from 21 Democrat co-sponsors, including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Energy and Natural Resources Committee Ranking Member Maria Cantwell (D-WA). To learn more about the Clean Energy for America Act, read on!
The Baker-Polito Administration recently announced a set of six new programs seeking to increase affordable access to clean energy and energy efficiency programs in the Commonwealth. These new programs build upon the efforts of the Affordable Access to Clean and Efficient Energy Working Group, which just released its Final Report, and mark the final component of the Administration’s $15 million Affordable Access to Clean and Efficient Energy (AACEE) Initiative. To learn more about these new programs, read on!
As Republicans hold control of the executive and legislative branches, comprehensive reform of the tax code is one of their top policy priorities. While they agree on the need to reduce the corporate tax rate and reform the system, Republicans have yet to unite around a specific provision or path forward. To learn more about the legislative outlook for tax reform, read on!
As the 115th Congress gets underway, Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) have reintroduced the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act, better known as Portman-Shaheen. The bill is cosponsored by Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO), Susan Collins (R-ME), Chris Coons (D-DE), Al Franken (D-MN), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Mark Warner (D-VA), and Roger Wicker (R-MS).
Portman-Shaheen was introduced in the previous three congresses with bipartisan support. The bill is aimed at using low-cost tools to make it easier for private sector energy users to become more efficient while also making the country’s largest energy user – the federal government – more efficient.
The bill is focused on Buildings, Manufacturers, and the Federal Government:
Passage of a tax package is another possible item on Congress’ list for the lame duck session, which is discussed in a recent ML Strategies alert. Three dozen tax provisions are scheduled to expire December 31, about half of which pertain to energy provisions. Congress approved last December a $1.1 trillion omnibus appropriations and $680 billion tax extenders package and adjourned for the first session of the 114th Congress. To learn more about the tax extenders package, read on!
With the election just a week away, ML Strategies, Mintz Levin’s consulting affiliate, has conducted in-depth analysis of possible House and Senate committee leadership changes, including committees that effect energy technology policies. Leadership of a number of House and Senate committees is bound to change due to term-limits, retirements, and perhaps election results, including the Energy and Commerce and Natural Resources House committees, and the Energy and Natural Resources and Environment and Public Works Senate committees. ML Strategies has outlined those potential changes in either a Republican- or a Democratic-controlled House and Senate. To read more about these potential Congressional leadership changes, read on!
Earlier this year, Massachusetts passed legislation that will require the state’s distribution utilities to purchase carbon-free electricity from hydropower and on and offshore wind farms under long-term contracts for up to 30% of the state’s electricity supply. Despite opposition from incumbent generators and large consumers over concerns that the bill would interfere with market competition, Democratic legislators found common ground with Republican Governor Charlie Baker to enact historic “clean energy” legislation that will transform the fuels used to generate the state’s power while significantly reducing its carbon-footprint. To learn more, read on!