2.1 min readBy Published On: September 23rd, 2020Categories: News0 Comments on Rep. Biele Supports Passage of Jobs Bill to Spur Economy Amid Pandemic

Legislation invests in housing and legalizes sports betting

(BOSTON) – Faced with an economy afflicted by COVID-19, State Representative David Biele recently joined his colleagues in the Massachusetts House of Representatives in passing legislation to spur economic growth by legalizing sports gaming, supporting business and work force development, facilitating housing development and authorizing more than $450 million in state grant funding.

“This legislation will help support and provide much-needed relief to businesses that have been adversely impacted by COVID-19, like restaurants, tourism, arts and culture,” said Rep. Biele.  “As we continue to find ways to bolster our economy, this bill will support businesses, help create jobs and foster work force development through innovative policies and targeted investments.”

The bill authorizes the Housing Choice concept, reducing the voting requirement for a range of housing-related zoning changes, such as affordable housing and multi-family housing, from a two-thirds threshold to a simple majority at the local level. Previously, only 74 communities in Massachusetts had adopted Housing Choice, including the City of Boston, to support the creation of workforce housing and multi-family housing.  The legislation also increases the low-income housing tax credit from $20 million to $40 million.

The bill initiates a system for legal sports gaming in Massachusetts and allows the independent Massachusetts Gaming Commission to grant in-person licenses to existing casinos and racing facilities. Mobile applications and casinos are also eligible to receive mobile gaming licenses. In addition to licensing fees, the state will receive 15% of all sports betting proceeds — $50 million annually. The proceeds will be distributed as follows:

  • 40% to a workforce development fund for at-risk youth;
  • 30% to a Distressed Restaurant Fund that would help over 1,000 restaurants pay for things like rent, payroll, and PPE for a period of two years;
  • 10% to youth development initiatives, including scholarships and after-school programs (raised to 25% after January 2023);
  • 10% to Local Aid (raised to 25% after January 2023); and
  • 9% to Public Health, including gambling addiction.

The bill also authorizes $459 million in bond funding, including:

  • $35 million for small business loans and $15 million for microbusinesses through the Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation;
  • $10 million for travel/tourism capital improvements;
  • $10 million for manufacturing grants;
  • $55 million for grants through Mass Development for planning activities and redevelopment of blighted or abandoned properties;
  • $40 million neighborhood stabilization and preservation under the Department of Housing and Community Development; and
  • $30M for a PPP loan type program run by the Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation that directs funding to businesses impacted by COVID-19 but did not receive federal assistance.

The bill passed the House of Representatives on a 156-3 vote and is being debated in conference committee.

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