There’s talk on Beacon Hill of lawmakers picking up the gavel again in a formal “special session” in order to take up the $4 billion economic development bill that fell to the cutting room floor during last week’s end-of-session scramble.
“I think it’s really important that the Legislature do all it can to relieve the economic hardship specifically that families are experiencing,” Secretary of State candidate Tanisha Sullivan said Sunday on WCVB. “Coming back into session would allow them to ensure that we could hopefully advance childcare credits for families, help ensure families can get some tax credits and refunds into their pockets when they need it most.”
A return isn’t just a theoretical idea, it’s one that sources say was floated well before they gaveled themselves into a corner on Aug 1.
Lawmakers were supposed to have finished business the day before.
They sent Gov. Charlie Baker dozens of bills, but their plan to provide tax relief to residents and send low income earners $250 each was suddenly stymied by an all-but-forgotten 1986 law which requires excess revenue — maybe $3 billion this year — be sent back to taxpayers.
Now legislators are faced with the hard choice of providing permanent economic relief to residents in the form of tax cuts or complying with the will of voters from 1986. Lawmakers had briefly discussed changing that law to push out their tax plan, but eventually came down on the side of sending taxpayers their money under the 1986 law.
Returning under the special session rules isn’t too hard, in theory. Both chambers would need to submit a letter signed by a simple majority to their chamber’s clerk — that’s 21 members of the Senate and 81 members of the House of Representatives — and then the matter is voted on.
Getting that many lawmakers together right now may be hard, however.
Several the Herald tried to reach Sunday indicated by autoreply or voicemail they were already on vacation.