Legislative Committee
Ask Your State Representative to Fund the 21J/UST Program by Supporting Section 17 of the "Outside Section" of the State Budget   
 
The Massachusetts House of Representatives is expected to release its version of the FY 19 state budget on Wednesday, April 11 with debate in the House beginning on April 23, 2018. The LSPA Legislation Committee has been tasked with proactively monitoring proposed budgets and legislation for issues of interest to our membership.
 
One item of particular interest in this proposed budget, under Section 17 of the "Outside Section", is the re-establishment of a dedicated UST Fund. To fund it, the first $30 million of the UST Delivery Fee deposits each fiscal year would be deposited into this account to pay for reimbursement claims.  Currently, all of the UST Delivery Fees (approx. $78 million per year) are deposited into the Commonwealth Transportation Fund (CTF). Under the proposed language, at the end of the fiscal year, whatever funds are not used for the 21J Fund would revert to the CTF. Then beginning on July 1st of the subsequent fiscal year, up to $30 million in fees would again go into the UST Fund, and so on.
 
It is the opinion of the LSPA that re-establishing the UST Fund is a huge step forward in ensuring a reliable source of funding and sustainability for the program. As you may already know, the budget language is widely supported by industry groups, specifically the New England Convenience Store and Energy Marketers Association (NECSEMA) and New England Service Station and Auto Repair Association (NESSARA).
 
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
 
At this point in the budget debate, we hope to inform and gain the support of State Representatives during the budgeting process regarding the environmental, public health, and economic importance of the 21J/UST Program -which is often overlooked and sometimes misunderstood. It is our hope that the proposed Section 17 language will carry over into the final state budget.
 
The LSPA encourages people to email or call their State Representatives and urge them to support Section 17 of the budget "Outside Section". At this point, any calls or emails should be directed to State Representatives, not State Senators, because their budget process occurs before the State Senate's. The time is now.
 
Find your State Representative hereSuggested email language is here
 
Thank you in advance for taking action. We can make an impact!
 
Co-Chairs of the LSPA Legislative Committee:
 
Kevin Beaulieu, LSPCommonsense Environmental 
 
Spence Smith, LSP, CH2M Jacobs 

Over the past several months the LSP Association (LSPA) has been active at the Massachusetts State House in support of S.534 - An Act relative to the remediation of home heating oil releases. Currently, only 5% of homes in Massachusetts using oil heat have insurance coverage! This bill, sponsored by Senator Anne Gobi and proposed by the LSPA, would make insurance coverage for home heating oil releases mandatory, giving homeowners much needed relief if they should face the often intimidating financial challenges of remediating a spill.    

In February 2018, the Joint Committee on Financial Services voted to report our bill favorably, with no changes. The bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Ways and Means where it is currently under review. Senator Karen E. Spilka (D-Middlesex/Norfolk) is the Chair of the Senate committee, and a list of committee members is here.

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Over the past several months the LSP Association (LSPA) has been active at the Massachusetts State House in support of S.534 - An Act relative to the remediation of home heating oil releases

This bill, proposed by the LSPA, would make insurance coverage of home heating oil releases mandatory. Currently, only about 5% of homes in Massachusetts using oil heat have insurance coverage. (Check your policy, you might be incorrectly assuming that you are covered). 

Since filing the bill, LSPs, attorneys, impacted homeowners and other stakeholders have been heavily involved in advocacy efforts including providing testimony at the State House and meeting with State legislators, the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation, the Division of Banks,  the Division of Insurance, and the Attorney Generals office. 

In the next few weeks, the Joint Committee on Financial Services will decide whether this bill will have life or if it will remain in the committee for "study." Senator Jamie Eldridge (D-Acton) is the Senate Chair of this committee. Representative Aaron Michlewitz (D-Boston) is the House Chair.

Read this fact sheet and a briefing paper to learn more about this important consumer and environmental protection issue.  
Contact the LSPA at [email protected] for more information or if you would like to get involved.
Below: The LSPA and other stakeholders testify in support of S. 534
     
 
Last week, the Massachusetts State Senate was able to finish its list of budget veto overrides. We are happy to report that the 21J Fund line item was approved!

This Senate override, along with the earlier override by the House of Representatives, added $3 million to the perpetually under-funded 21J Fund for underground storage tank remediation reimbursements. This brings the total FY '18 21J funding to $5.5 million. While this amount will still leave the 21J Fund lacking, it is closer to meetings its backlog of claims with this $5.5 million.
 
The LSPA thanks you for your action on this legislation. We greatly appreciate all of you who reached out to your State Senators. You made an impact!

The LSPA is preparing to testify on S. 534, an act relative to the remediation of home heating oil releases. Senate Bill #534 was authored by the LSPA to enhance the current law by requiring coverage be provided to homeowners and raising coverage limits to keep pace with rising remediation costs. This bill will be heard by the Joint Committee on Financial Services in mid-October.

And now, we are asking for your help! Here are a few ways that you can support S. 534:

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Legislative committee leaders are getting to know the LSPA on Beacon Hill.

This week, the LSPA was pleased to be invited by the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources, and Agriculture to testify at an oversight hearing on landfills and solid waste.  The LSPA was well represented by Dot McGlincy, Co-Chair of our Legislative Committee, who offered the LSPA's observations and fielded questions from committee co-chairs.  We also submitted written testimony.
  
Earlier in the day, Mike Penzo, LSPA President, testified in favor of an extension of the Brownfields Tax Credit.  And, last week, Dot McGlincy also testified in opposition to a bill on the reuse of soil for reclamation projects. (It's not that the LSPA doesn't support the use of soil for reclamation projects, it's that this bill was highly problematic).

   
 

We expect to return to "the Hill" next week for meetings with key legislative leaders. Stay tuned for more updates.
The LSPA is requesting that you outreach to your state representative to urge his/her support of House Amendment #603 to the proposed FY 2018 state budget (H. 3600). House Amendment #603 would increase the state appropriation to the 21J Fund from $6 million to $10 million. The LSPA supports this amendment and we are told to expect a vote on it as early as this coming Monday, April 24th.
 
The amendment was sponsored jointly by Rep. Kafka (D-Sharon) and Rep. Brad Jones (R-North Reading), and they are currently the only sponsors. More bill sponsors may provide the support needed to get this passed by the House Ways and Means Committee. 
 
The 21J Fund is seriously underfunded annually; an approximately $6 million deficit in unpaid claims (claims processed and approved but unable to be paid) is projected for the end of FY 2017. For more background information, read this article from the most recent LSPA newsletter.   
 
The time is now! The more voices the better. Please email or call your state representative to urge him/her to support this amendment. Four simple points will do: 
  • Please sign on as a co-sponsor to House Amendment 603 and please speak to House leadership in support of the amendment.
  • The Fund's primary purpose is to ensure the cleanup of drinking water, groundwater, and soils following a spill or leak of petroleum.
  • Without sufficient funding, the 21J Fund cannot pay its stakeholder group of claimants for their cleanup actions. Contractors, equipment suppliers and other vendors maintain an employment and sales workforce in the Commonwealth. This results in income, employment and sales tax for the Commonwealth.   
  • The majority of petroleum dispensing facilities are owned by home grown, family-owned petroleum marketing companies that have operated and evolved in their home state of Massachusetts for several decades - not by big oil companies.   
Feel free to contact Wendy Rundle, LSPA Executive Director at [email protected] with any questions or comments.

Thank you,
 
Michael A. Penzo, CPG, PG, LSP
LSPA President
 
Dot McGlincy, LSP, and Lauren Konetzny, LSP
Co-Chairs, LSPA Legislative Committee
The LSPA's Legislative Committee has drafted legislation which would require insurers to provide coverage for releases from above ground residential heating oil storage tanks. Currently, insurers are only required to make coverage available upon request; they do not have to inform their customers that this coverage is available. The bill has been assigned Senate #534, but we still need your help to ensure that the bill becomes a law. 
 
We are seeking case studies and contact information for homeowners who were denied insurance coverage due to pollution exclusions, were burdened by the costs of a release at their home, and are willing to share their stories in hopes of preventing similar hardships for other homeowners in the future. Such stories are critical to gaining legislative support and getting the bill passed into law.  

How You Can Help: Do you know any homeowners who may be willing to share their experiences with the LSPA? If so, please contact a Co-Chair of the LSPA's Legislative Committee, Dot McGlincy or Lauren Konetzny. Your help is greatly appreciated!

Click here for more information on why this bill is so important.  

Thank you to Paul Locke and the MassDEP for posting this video on LinkedIn today. The LSPA looks forward to providing updates as the legislation progresses through the committee process.

Join LSPA's Legislative Committee

The LSPA's Legislative Committee is seeking new members for the upcoming FY 2017 year. We will hold face-to-face meetings approximately four times a year, plus monthly conference calls to discuss legislative issues. 

Legislative Committee Goals:
  • Review environmental bills in front of the Massachusetts' Legislature
  • Evaluate if the proposed legislation might impact LSPA members 
  • Start the LSPA process of discussing bills with LSPA committees and general membership
  • Recommend which bills to support and which bills to oppose
  • Inform the LSPA Board of Directors, President, Executive Director, and members about important legislation
Please consider joining the legislative committee. Your participation and enthusiasm - in whatever level of support you are able to provide - will be greatly appreciated. 
 
Kick-off conference call 
Friday, July 15 at 9:00 a.m. 
Dial-in: 712-432-1601
Passcode: 651000#

If you are unable to participate in our kick-off call, but are interested in joining our committee, please contact the legislative committee chair, Dorothy A. McGlincy.