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Gov. Baker reviewing slew of bills approved by lawmakers

August 1, 2018

BOSTON (AP) — Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker is reviewing a slew of bills shipped to him by state lawmakers.

On Wednesday, the Republican returned an amended version of one of those measures to the Legislature. Baker recommended changes to a bill that would apply state and local lodging taxes to short-term rentals, such as those offered through Airbnb and other online platforms.

Baker said in a letter to House and Senate lawmakers that the bill should exempt from the tax homeowners who rent out rooms fewer than 14 days a year. He said that would reduce projected revenues from the expansion of the lodging taxes by about $300,000 annually or 1 percent.

He also said the bill could jeopardize the privacy of those renting out rooms by requiring personally identifiable information be included in a short-term rental registry. Baker recommended tweaking the registry to remove that information while still keeping the street name and city and town where the short term rental property is located.

Baker said he was pleased lawmakers approved several key pieces of legislation including an opioid bill, an economic development bill and an environmental bond bill.

He said the bill meant to help address the state’s opioid crisis builds on an earlier law and would create a credentialing program for recovery coaching, which he said is key to helping people get clean and stay clean.

“We got an environmental bond bill which includes hundreds of millions of dollars for resiliency and adaptation which for cities and towns especially in climate change areas is going to be really important,” Baker told reporters. “We also got a really solid economic development bill which we’re very excited about.”

Baker said he was frustrated lawmakers failed to address the state’s housing crisis.

“We had a housing bill that would have made it possible for a state that really needs to build more housing to put 135,000 new units of housing up over the next five or six years,” Baker said. Lawmakers didn’t approve the bill.

Tuesday was the last day of the Legislature’s formal session for the year.

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