Despite some powerful opposition, rent stabilization is still alive on Beacon Hill

FEBRUARY 3, 2022

Yesterday was Joint Rule 10 day — the deadline for state legislative committees to put most timely-filed bills to a vote on Beacon Hill. Between the House and Senate, there are roughly 7,000 bills filed each session, and most end up being "sent to study" or discarded, so making it past this deadline is a key step in the legislative process. 

Following an epic 7+ hour hearing on the Tenant Protection Act (H.1378) before the Joint Committee on Housing last month, I am pleased to report our bill to lift the statewide ban on local rent stabilization has survived yesterday's deadline, as the committee is now moving to extend the deadline on our bill through May 9.

Given how powerful interests such as the Greater Boston Real Estate Board and the National Apartment Association have been actively opposing our bill — I see this movement for an extension as an indication of our collective power. It means our calls for rent stabilization cannot easily be dismissed, despite some powerful opposition. It also means we have an opportunity to continue doing the necessary work of advocacy and organizing around this important issue.

Last session, the original iteration of the Tenant Protection Act was similarly given an extension order at the Joint Rule 10 deadline. Ultimately, this first draft of the bill was reported favorably by the Housing Committee on a vote of 13-2 in May of 2020. That happened after co-lead-sponsor Rep. Nika Elugardo and I worked to bring more folks to the table and worked to win the support of more colleagues and members of the committee. Our plan is to continue doing this work in the coming weeks and months, along with our Senate lead-sponsor, Sen. Adam Gomez of Springfield and all of our advocacy partners.

In just the past month, it's remarkable to note how far we've come with this legislation. H.1378, An Act Enabling Local Options For Tenant Protections now has a total of 35 sponsors, more than ever before and nearly twice as many as we had at the end of last session.

Also last month, Boston Mayor Michelle Wu submitted written testimony to the Housing Committee in support of our bill. Then at the committee hearing, we heard from Somerville Mayor Katjana Ballantyne, Cambridge Mayor Sumbul Siddiqui, and many of the city councilors from our three cities. Perhaps what's even more remarkable is how we heard from so many elected officials from across the Commonwealth — by my count some 33 elected officials from 13 municipalities — including Worcester, Springfield, Brockton, Randolph, Lynn, Malden, Waltham, Medford, Quincy, et al. This shows that the desire for local rent stabilization extends beyond Cambridge, Somerville, and Boston and stretches across the Commonwealth.

In closing, I want to say Thank You to the Chairs of the Joint Committee on Housing, Rep. Jim Arciero and Sen. John Keenan. And thanks as well to the Housing Committee staff. Together, they orchestrated a public hearing where approximately 150 people from a variety of backgrounds all had the opportunity to speak. It's amazing to note how the testimony was overwhelmingly in support of our bills. And in the weeks since the public hearing, the committee has been flooded with emails and communications in support of our bills and in support of lifting the ban on rent control in general.

To everyone speaking up in support of tenant protections, thank you! We are looking forward to making the most of the coming weeks and months by continuing to organize and advocate for local options for rent stabilization and tenant protections.

Yours in service,

Rep. Mike Connolly