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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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Dept. of Public Health Team Present Summer Camp COVID Guidelines


For our May 6, 2021 MANSConnects webinar, a multi-disciplinary team from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health Sanitation Division and other bureaus offered a training on the latest State guidelines for summer camps and programs.


This was our best-attended webinar yet, as many of our members operate camps and summer programs. And with preparations already underway for the 2021 season, this presentation comes at a welcome time.


The team, led by Stephen Hughes, director of the DPH Sanitation Division, also featured experts from the Bureau of Environmental Health and Bureau of Infectious Diseases. They gave a thorough training covering every facet of State pandemic-related regulations as they pertain to summer program administration. Following their presentation, guests and panel took part in a question and answer session, further adding to a wealth of information already provided.


MANSConnects is a quarterly webinar series open to members and non-members alike. Past guests have included State Senator Michael Moore and MA Secretary of Education James Peyser. Follow us here, on Twitter, or LinkedIn, for news on our next MANSConnects this coming summer.



The Dover Amendment Explained


In 1950, Massachusetts granted religious and educational nonprofit corporations immunity from certain zoning restrictions. The official title is Massachusetts General Law (MGL) Chapter 40A, Section 3, but it is commonly called the Dover Amendment. This is important for our members because it impacts what they are allowed to build and where.


The intent for the Dover Amendment was to negate discriminatory local bylaws barring religious schools from residential zones. Though its roots are in education, the scope of the law has expanded since then to include agricultural usage as well.


MANSC is an ardent defender of the Dover Amendment, and we will work to ensure that any legislation aimed at eroding this amendment is defeated. Though we are early into this legislative session, MANSC is already tracking several of such bills in the House and Senate.


While there are factions which seek to limit or eliminate Dover altogether, others are pushing to expand it beyond its original intended scope. The word "educational" can be interpreted broadly, and recently some non-profit organizations have argued that it includes adult day programs and mental health community homes. In 1985, a ruling was made that the structures in question must have education as the “primary or dominant purpose," but this too leaves room for debate.


Regardless, the Dover Amendment is frequently under attack, and such bills pose a real threat to the financial stability and independence of nonprofit schools, colleges, and universities across the commonwealth. Through determined advocacy, MANSC has successfully blocked legislation targeting the Dover Amendment in the past, and will continue to do so moving forward.


MANSC Welcomes Fred Colson as New Board Member


Please join us in welcoming Fred Colson, Director of Finance at Belmont Day School as our newest member of the Board of Directors. He was formerly CFO at Emma Willard School in Troy, NY, and at The Forman School in Litchfield, CT.


Fred has been the CFO at several community-based nonprofits, including Senior Director of Cortez Integrated Healthcare, pioneering a new healthcare delivery model integrating primary health care and mental health care.


He also served on the Economic Development Commission of the Town of Litchfield, CT from 2014 until 2017 when he relocated to Massachusetts.



He lives with his wife in Watertown, Massachusetts.


 

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.