House Passes Major Economic Development Bill

JUNE 30, 2024

On Thursday, Representative Mike Connolly joined with his Cambridge and Somerville colleagues in the House to pass an economic development bill that includes an array of investments and policy initiatives that aim to bolster support for workers and businesses, particularly in the life sciences, clean energy technology, and manufacturing industries, while also looking to Massachusetts more affordable and competitive. Funded at $3.40 billion in bond authorizations, with an additional $700 million worth of tax credits, H.4789An Act relative to strengthening Massachusetts’ economic leadership strives to ensure that the Commonwealth is prepared to lead the innovation industries of the future.

"I was proud to vote in support of a major priority of organized labor: the explicit authorization of Project Labor Agreements (PLAs) for both state and municipal projects. PLAs will add more good union jobs across the state, thereby increasing the timely completion of projects at or under budget by a highly trained union workforce with top workplace safety standards." Representative Mike Connolly said. "I was also proud to secure funding authorizations for key local projects including the Science Club for Girls, East Somerville Main Streets, Black History in Action, and pedestrian connectivity from Somerville's Inner Belt area to the East Somerville Green Line station."

Bond authorizations

  • $500 million for the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center to provide grants and loans in order to grow the life sciences industry in Massachusetts
  • $400 million for MassWorks public infrastructure grants to municipalities
  • $250 million for the Mass Impact grant program to support large transformational projects that will drive economic growth
  • $200 million for the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC) to support the research and commercialization of climate technology across the state
  • $200 million for the MassCEC to invest in research, and in the implementation of offshore wind infrastructure
  • $150 million for grants for cities and towns for approved library projects
  • $100 million for Municipal Financial Assistance Grants to municipal entities to assist them with workforce development
  • $100 million for Applied AI Hub Capital grant program to support the adoption and application of AI technology in the state's tech sectors
  • $100 million for the Rural Development Program providing financial assistance to exclusively rural areas with the goal of community development
  • $100 million for the Seaport Economic Council Grant program for municipalities for the construction/repair of coastal assets that have potential to stimulate economic growth

Rep. Connolly sponsored four funding amendments to the above bond authorizations which the final House version of the bill will include. They are:

  • Pedestrian Access from the Inner Belt to the East Somerville Green Line Station, co-filed with Rep. Barber, to make the GLX accessible to an entire section of the city that's currently walled off from transit access.
  • East Somerville Main Streets funding for the continued promotion and development of the East Somerville neighborhood as a culinary and cultural tourism destination
  • Black History in Action for the design and construction of the Center for Black Exuberance in Cambridgeport to foster collective liberation practices through the arts, education, and public history
  • Science Club for Girls to support educational programs in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) for girls and gender-expressive youth.

Tax credits

  • Life Sciences Tax Credit: increases the annual amount of life sciences tax credits from $30 million to $50 million. It decreases the length of time that the certification for a life sciences company is valid from five years to three years, and also repeals the Angel Investor Tax Credit.
  • Climate Tech Industry Incentive Program and Tax Credit: creates a program that is modeled after the life sciences tax incentive program, capped at $30 million per year, to expand the Climate Tech industry. Companies would be able to claim credits for: net new permanent full-time employees; capital investments; and eligible research costs. It also creates a sales tax exemption for construction, remodeling, and remediation of certain climatetech commercial facilities.
  • Economic Development Incentive Program (EDIP) Tax Credit: removes the $500,000 per calendar year cap on the total amount of refundable EDIP tax credits that may be awarded for a certified economic development project and removes the $5 million cumulative per year cap on refundable tax credits.
  • Live Theater Tax Credit: establishes a five-year live theater tax credit pilot program and tax credit, capped at $7 million per year, to support pre-Broadway, pre-off Broadway, national tour launches and regional professional theater productions.
  • Digital Interactive Media Tax Credit: establishes a five-year digital interactive media tax credit pilot program, capped at $5 million per year, to support the production of video games in the Commonwealth. It also establishes a sales tax exemption for digital interactive media production companies and students for production expenses.
  • Internship Tax Credit: establishes a tax credit for employers, capped at $100,000 per employer and $10 million total credits annually, that employ for 12 weeks a recent graduate of a public or private institution of higher education in Massachusetts.


The bill includes a provision that authorizes public agencies and municipalities to use Project Labor Agreements (PLAs) if it is in the best interest of the Commonwealth and directs the Department of Labor Standards to promulgate regulations to increase diversity of contractors in PLAs. PLAs are pre-hire collective bargaining agreements negotiated between construction unions and construction contractors that establish the terms and conditions of employment for construction projects. PLAs have been effective at 1) ensuring timely completion of projects at or under budget, 2) providing employers with a reliable source of highly skilled workers, 3) increasing diversity and supporting equitable workforce development and 4) improving worker health and safety on the job. Notably, the Nation’s first utility-scale offshore wind project, Vineyard Wind (which has already delivered 68 megawatts of green energy during Phase 1) is being built with a PLA. Rep. Connolly looks forward to hopefully seeing more state and local projects utilize organized labor now that PLAs are codified into state law. Lastly, an amendment Rep. Connolly cosponsored, supported by the Building Trades and the AFL-CIO and filed by Representative Decker, was adopted into the final House version which will provide additional clarity to relevant stakeholders where PLAs are deployed.

Other provisions include:

  • Uplifting the Social Work Practice: Rep. Connolly cosponsored an adopted amendment filed by Rep. Kushmerek to incorporate language from the SUPER Act, supported by the National Association for Social Workers Massachusetts Chapter, which includes the following three provisions. 1) Funds a grant program that would provide Master’s level social work students with stipends for their field placements, 2) removes the ASWB exam at the non-clinical level (LCSW level) for Master’s level social workers applying for licensure (other states, such as Rhode Island, have successfully removed the exam at the non-clinical level and have seen a 160% increase in new master’s level social workers), and 3) allows LICSWs to receive continuing education credits for providing supervision to LCSWs, MSW and BSW interns.
  • Thomas Michael Menino Convention and Exhibition Center: directs the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority to designate the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center as the Thomas Michael Menino Convention and Exhibition Center.
  • Combat Sports Governance Updates: modernizes the way the Commonwealth oversees combat sports such as mixed martial arts and boxing to encourage more events to be held in Massachusetts, and to provide greater protections for combatants. The bill allows MSAC to oversee and enforce contracts, revoke/suspend licenses and requires formal trainings for those regulating events. It also increases insurance coverage for combatants injured during events.
  • Rural Policy Commission and Rural Development Program: amends the definition of “rural community” to add municipalities with a population of less than 7,000 in the most recent census. It also establishes a rural development program, administered by the Executive Office of Economic Development (EOED), to promote economic opportunity in rural communities.
  • Workforce Investment Trust Fund: requires funds from the Workforce Investment Trust Fund to be competitively granted through existing workforce development programs that develop and strengthen workforce opportunities for low-income communities or vulnerable youth and young adults. Allows for funds to be granted to programs that provide opportunities for intellectual, developmental, or physical disabilities. and to facilitate work permits, professional credentialing, or other workforce opportunities for non-citizens residing lawfully in Massachusetts.
  • Broadband: authorizes governmental bodies to use the competitive sealed bid process under MGL 30B, instead of the procurement requirements for public works non-building construction contracts, to procure broadband internet service along with the design, installation, maintenance, and operation of broadband internet services for public buildings or public land.
  • Special Permit for Construction: requires construction or operations under a special permit or a site plan approval under local ordinance or by-law to conform to any subsequent amendment of the zoning ordinance or by-law or any other local land use regulations unless the use or construction is commenced within three years after the issuance of the special permit or site plan approval.
  • Commercial Electric Vehicle (EV) Charging Stations: requires commercial EV charging stations to be registered with division of standards under Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation (OCABR) on a form developed by the division before offering charging services to the public. Requires all commercial electric vehicle charging stations operating as of January 1, 2025, to register with the division by January 1, 2026.
  • Capital Improvement Trust Funds: expands the purpose of the fund to include simulcasting.
  • Running Horse Capital Improvements Trust Fund: provides that the licensee in Suffolk County shall not be obligated to make any further payments to the Running Horse Capital Improvements Trust Fund.
  • Worcester County Simulcasting: authorizes a live racing meeting licensee in Worcester County to simulcast in any location in Worcester County.
  • Salesperson Licenses: allows Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission (ABCC) to grant to individuals employed as salesmen of farmer-distilleries the authority to solicit orders for alcoholic beverages on behalf of their employer.
  • Ticket Sales: makes several changes to modernize ticket sales laws and increase consumer protections, including increased audits and testing of paperless systems, clear and conspicuous fee disclosures, and guaranteed refunds in case of canceled events and other circumstances
  • Development at Devens: makes a number of technical updates to assist with planning and promote further residential development at Devens
  • Surety Bond Pilot Program: establishes a five-year surety bond assistance pilot program, subject to federal approval by the U.S. Treasury, to assist economically and socially disadvantaged businesses to secure contracts for capital projects in the form of technical or financial assistance.

The bill passed the House of Representatives 155-2 and now goes to the Senate for its consideration.