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Since 1952
we have been the voice of private, independent schools, colleges and universities at the State House. MANSC represents members’ interests, advocates on their behalf with lawmakers, and informs members about bills that threaten their independence and economic security.
 

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Camp & Summer Program Guidelines Issued As COVID Numbers Climb


The State has finally issued guidelines for camps and recreational programs as the summer inches closer. Many such programs were closed last summer, as concerns surrounding COVID-19 were high and a vaccine had not been developed. Many schools and universities count on summer programs as a source of revenue, so the green-light to open, even with restrictions, is welcome news to those impacted. 


However, some of the optimism may be tempered by the rising case count in the Commonwealth. Former U.S. FDA administrator Scott Gottlieb, a member of Gov. Charlie Baker's COVID-19 Advisory Board, recently tweeted that Massachusetts is an area “of greatest concern, where Covid cases are beginning to surge again." Case counts climbed steadily through the month of March, including several clusters centered on colleges and universities.


The rules and regulations are comprehensive, and span an array of topics including:

  • Staffing requirements
  • Cohort group size
  • Personal protective equipment and hygiene
  • Screening, testing, and isolation
  • Cleaning and disinfecting
  • Sleeping arrangements where applicable


For a downloadable .pdf of the regulations, please go to https://www.mass.gov/doc/recreational-camps-and-programs-health-and-safety-standards-for-reopening/download

MANSConnects
Presents Senator Michael Moore

On February 19th we kicked off our
MANSConnects webinar series with our guest Senator Michael Moore (D-Millbury), who led a discussion with members and guests.

 

As the driving force behind the newly passed bill on sexual violence on college campuses, he focused his remarks on this piece of legislation and its implications. A Q&A session followed, giving attendees a chance to share questions.

For those who missed the luncheon, it is archived for your convenience.

MANSConnects will be a regularly occurring series with a new guest speaker each time; whether a member of the legislature or a community leader, our goal is to connect you with the Commonwealth’s leadership and let your voice be heard. We are currently lining up guests for future MANSConnects talks and will be announcing the next one soon.

Legislative Update


So far, the most notable event on Beacon Hill relative to our focus was the passage of the sexual violence bill this past January.  As we have previously reported, it establishes requirements for colleges and universities pertaining to preventing and dealing with sexual misconduct on campus. 

Though the 2021-2022 legislative session has only just begun, there are 71 bills that we’re tracking on your behalf. They are varied in scope but some of the bills pertain to payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT), students use of protective headgear for certain sports, and mandatory safety equipment on buses. 

Primarily, we focus on preventing bills that: 

  • erode the protections of the Dover Amendment
  • mandate any Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) 
  • give local government the ability to tax our nonprofit institutions 
  • seek to reclassify or take away our nonprofit status
  • have the effect of infringing upon our independence as nonprofit institutions
MANSC has been serving our members for nearly 70 years, and we will continue to advocate and inform private, nonprofit, schools and colleges in Massachusetts.

Sexual Violence Bill Has Become Law for MA Colleges And Universities


In January of 2020, the State Legislature passed SB2979 - An Act relative to sexual violence on higher education campuses. Governor Baker signed the bill into law shortly thereafter, among several others, making for a busy tail end to an unusually slow legislative session.


The bill, aimed at colleges and universities, is focused on resources available to victims and sets forth standards for the handling of cases. It requires such institutions to provide prevention and awareness training to students and employees, follow established investigative and disciplinary processes, and enter into a memorandum of understanding with local law enforcement agencies.


Colleges and universities have until August 2021 to comply with the new laws.


One of our goals is to keep our members up to date on any legislative activity which could impact your independence and economic security. We will continue to post updates here on our website to better serve our members.



 

An Overview
MANSC on Beacon Hill


MANSC members and guests got an insider’s look at the new Massachusetts legislative session recently from the organization’s veteran legislative counsel, John J. Spillane. 


Speaking at a board-sponsored informational meeting at Chapel Hill-Chauncy Hall School, Spillane also outlined his work at the Statehouse, advocating for the interests of Massachusetts nonprofit schools, colleges and universities. 


“Even the best-intentioned bills may have serious financial implications or erode the historic independence of our institutions,” Spillane said.  “I represent the interests of MANSC members and keep them informed 

about issues of concern on Beacon Hill.  Legislators also look to me as a resource to help them understand the effects these bills will have on our institutions – and on our communities.”


The articles in this newsletter will give you an idea of how the legislature works, the trends in bills that Spillane sees and what he does at the Statehouse to represent the interests of MANSC members.


You’ll also find information about new regulations approved recently by the state Board of Higher Education regarding financial oversight of nonprofit colleges and universities.


What MANSC Does on Beacon Hill

For many years, MANSC Legislative Counsel John J. Spillane has had unparalleled success in stopping bills that would negatively affect Massachusetts nonprofit schools, colleges and universities.


He is either at the Statehouse or in close contact with legislators on a daily basis, and even spends time with them in their district visits.


Spillane tracks and follows all bills and last-minute amendments that affect MANSC members.  He monitors and attends committee hearings, prepares opposition testimony on bills of concern, confers with legislators and observes legislative sessions from the gallery.


He also keeps track of bills that apply only to public schools, because they can easily be changed to include nonprofit institutions.


Spillane works closely with AICUM and other trade organizations to develop a strategic approach to stopping bills of concern.



How the Legislature Works

The 191st session of the legislature began on January 2, 2019 and is slated to conclude January 6, 2021. In the 160-member House, there are 127 Democrats and 31 Republicans and 1 Independent; the Senate has 40 members, including 34 Democrats and 6 Republicans. John Spillane expects 5,000 to 5,500 bills will be filed.  Generally, speaking, legislators file bills:

>     In response to a problem in a district
>     Based on legislation in other states,
       policy issues, studies or white papers


Once filed, the bills are assigned to committees. After studying the issues and implications of the bills, as well as getting input at public hearings, committees either report out the bills as “ought to pass” or “ought not to pass,” or they may be put to study or discharged to other committees.


Both the House and Senate must pass a bill and agree on the final language before it is sent to the Governor for signing.  If the Governor vetoes a bill, the veto can be overridden by two-thirds 

votes in the House and Senate.


Each legislative session runs for two years and includes formal and informal sessions.  Formal sessions run from January through the end of July and deal with bills that have been vetted by committees.  The informal sessions run from August through December 31.  Bills may still be voted on in the informal session but require unanimous approval to pass.


Discussions on the state budget typically begin in the spring, but this year the COVID-19 Pandemic has delayed passing of the budget. Both the House and Senate create and vote on budgets, which then go to a Conference Committee to iron out the differences between the two versions.


Our legislative counsel closely monitors the lengthy and complex budget process every year because of the financial implications the state budget may have for nonprofit education, and also because failed bills may be tacked onto the budget as last-minute amendments.


Trends in Bills Affecting MANSC Members

Even if they are turned aside in one session, bills often return in the following years, filed by determined legislators who are unwilling to give up on them.  MANSC Legislative Counsel John J. Spillane has noted the following historic trends in bills that would affect independent schools and colleges:


Zoning, often involving changes to the Dover Amendment. These bills are a major concern for MANSC, and John will be watching for any measures that cede authority to local communities.


Taxation of Nonprofit Schools, Colleges and Universities, including efforts to tax property, operating income and endowments, or defining what institutions should be taxed based on officer salaries. Bills also may seek to establish percentages on what is deemed taxable, including taxation of short-term rentals of school facilities.


990s, including bills that seek greater transparency on what is disclosed on them.

 

PILOT Programs, empowering local communities to require nonprofit institutions to make payments in lieu of taxes.  Other bills may give communities the right of first refusal when our institutions sell property in certain situations.


Safety in Schools, including numerous bills affecting school buses, such as seat belts, embarking and disembarking, motor vehicle conduct regarding school buses, and bus driver conduct and certification.

Student Health, involving concussion prevention, head injuries, allergy response, vision and dental screening, and the prevention of tobacco use.


Prevention of Violence in Schools, defining when violence occurs and the action and response, security measures, student data privacy, sexual violence protocol, and CORI issues.


ADA Compliance,
usually directed at the Architectural Access Board, which is charged with making facilities accessible to people with disabilities
.