• An Act Clarifying the Scope of the Local Mandate Law

    This bill would clarify the scope of municipal protection pursuant to Section 27C of Chapter 29 of the General Laws, the so-called Local Mandate Law. The statute provides that any law taking effect on or after January 1, 1981 that imposes any additional costs upon a city or town will be effective only if fully funded by the Commonwealth or if locally accepted. In addition, it provides that that any post-1980 administrative regulation or law granting or increasing exemptions from local taxation will not be effective unless fully funded by the Commonwealth.

    Over time, however, several court decisions have led to confusion about when the Local Mandate Law applies. Accordingly, and consistent with the original intent of the law, this bill would define the term "local mandate" to include state laws and regulations that increase the cost of programs and services that localities undertake voluntarily, such as providing foreign language courses for high school students and curbside trash pick up. Court interpretations indicate that the current text might limit application of the Local Mandate Law to laws and regulations that increase the cost of local activities that are explicitly required by state law, such as, for example, conducting state elections. The bill would also clarify that the Local Mandate Law applies to a costly amendment to a local option law, when the amendment is enacted after the municipality has voted to accept the original law.