Compromise bill would shift liquor license control to Boston, add tax holiday in August

By 
Gintautas Dumcius, State House News Service
Jul. 31, 2014

With one day left for legislators to tackle major legislation before formal sessions end for the year, House and Senate negotiating committees reached deals Wednesday night on bills aimed at boosting job growth, updating gun laws, combating domestic violence, paying for environmental and energy projects, and instituting new accountability measures at local housing authorities.

The compromise economic development bill (H 4377) also gives Boston a set new number of liquor licenses and gives the mayor the authority to appoint his own licensing board, but does not eliminate the statewide cap for all other cities and towns, as the Senate and Gov. Deval Patrick proposed to do.

Both the House and Senate plan to meet Thursday starting at 11 a.m. and are expected to run through the tape when the two-year formal session ends at midnight. After Thursday, most lawmakers will turn their attention to re-election campaigns, while non-controversial legislation can still advance in informal sessions as long as no one legislator objects.

Lawmakers opted to give shoppers a break from the state’s sales tax on the third weekend of August, under a compromise economic development bill. Negotiators on the six-member conference committee opted to set August 16-17 as the dates for what has become an annual holiday from the state’s 6.25 percent sales tax. The holiday has traditionally taken place the second weekend of August and covered purchases less than $2,500. The Senate had pushed for the weekend of Aug. 9-10, while the House had backed the third weekend.

The bill also creates a seafood marketing program fund within the Division of Marine Fisheries to support the state’s fishing and seafood industry, establishes a 3-year entrepreneur-in-residence pilot program at centers within UMass Lowell and UMass Boston, creates tax credits for “angel investors” and “off-Broadway” productions, and updates the state’s definition of car-sharing, meaning Zipcar and similar companies do not have to charge a membership fee. The bill also includes a “Big Data” innovation and workforce fund, a transformative development fund to provide equity investments and technical assistance to Gateway Cities, and an advanced manufacturing and information technology trust fund for training and education programs.

The economic development conference committee report is available here: https://malegislature.gov/Bills/188/House/H4377

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