SENATE NEGOTIATOR SEES DEALS ON SHORT-TERM RENTAL, DATA PROTECTION BILLS
By Katie Lannan
STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE
STATE HOUSE, BOSTON, JULY 12, 2018.....Conference committees negotiating on short-term rental regulation and consumer data protection bills are close to producing agreements, according to a senator serving on both panels.
Sen. Ryan Fattman, a Webster Republican, told the News Service Thursday that negotiations on the bill regulating and taxing short-term rentals made through platforms like Airbnb look like they have "wrapped up."
"I think that might get filed soon, the conference committee report," he said. "I'm still trying to figure out what I'm going to do on that because I voted no on the original. I believe that you pay taxes on income, and that this has been a great economic mobility tool for people who are older."
Of the six bills now before conference committees, the closed-door negotiations have been going on the longest on the short-term rentals legislation (H 4327/S 2381), which was sent to conference on April 11.
The Airbnb conference committee is chaired by Rep. Aaron Michlewitz and Sen. Michael Rodrigues. Its other members are Reps. Sarah Peake and Jay Barrows, Senate Ways and Means Chairwoman Karen Spilka, and Fattman.
"We're not done. It's inaccurate," Michlewitz said in response to his fellow conferee's assessment. "It's not done, and it's not done until it's done. And right now we're not done.
Fattman is also the Senate Republican on the conference committee for a data security bill. The bill (H 4241/S 2492), which gained prominence after the high-profile breach at the credit-reporting agency Equifax, removes fees associated with credit security freezes, along with other measures.
The data bill conference committee, which is helmed by Consumer Protection Committee co-chairs Sen. Barbara L'Italien and Rep. Tackey Chan, seems "to have wrapped that up potentially yesterday," Fattman said.
"My hope is that details will be forthcoming on that, and I'm not sure how forthcoming I should be on those details just yet," he said.
Reps. Daniel Hunt and Randy Hunt and Sen. John Keenan are the committee's other members.
Once conference committees file their compromise bills, the legislation must be approved by both branches.
With 19 days remaining before the July 31 end of formal sessions, the four other bills being negotiated by conference committees are the overdue fiscal 2019 budget, veterans benefits legislation, and bills dealing with civics education and health care.
Fattman called it "unacceptable" that the budget was late. Massachusetts is the only state in the country where lawmakers have not yet passed a budget for this year.
"We need to do better at getting that in time, and I think that that's not a criticism of any one individual," he said. "It's just both bodies, we need to get better. I know that they're working hard trying to get differences knocked out, but we're the only one in the country."
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