Sen. Lesser Issues Statement After Governor Signs Economic Development Bill Boosting Support for Workforce Training and Infrastructure Projects
SPRINGFIELD — Senator Eric P. Lesser praised the signing of the Economic Development Bill today, which authorizes millions of dollars in grants for technical education programs across the state and bonds to the MassWorks Infrastructure Program to rebuild roads and bridges. Sen. Lesser also expressed disappointment that Gov. Charlie Baker vetoed a measure included in the bill to defend young entrepreneurs and inventors from questionable business practices.
After Gov. Baker signed the act into law, Sen. Lesser issued the following statement:
“The Economic Development Bill will put thousands of people to work rebuilding our roads and bridges, and will help prepare the next generation by making strategic investments in workforce training and technical education programs. I was proud to work on this legislation with a fellow Western Mass. partner, Representative Joseph Wagner, who understands the importance of investing in our future.
“In addition to the investments in this bill, reforms to our Commonwealth’s non-compete laws will help workers and make our state’s companies more competitive. It has been a decade-long effort to achieve this reform, and with it, we have rebalanced the scales to benefit employees in an economy where companies compete for the best talent.
“However, I am disappointed that Governor Baker chose to veto an important safeguard against patent trolling. This provision was widely supported in the tech and startup communities as a way to protect entrepreneurs and inventors from patent trolling tactics. These shakedown operations sap resources from new startups and scare people out of inventing things here in Massachusetts, costing us thousands of jobs and potentially billions of dollars in new investment. That’s why dozens of other states have protections similar to the provision the House and Senate included in our Economic Development Bill. “Massachusetts is a global leader in innovation and an incubator for countless new startups, and those entrepreneurs need the protections provided by the section Governor Baker vetoed. “Nevertheless, we will continue to fight for patent troll reform and will be filing new legislation to do so. Our Commonwealth’s inventors and entrepreneurs are counting on us to do nothing less.”
The “patent trolling” measure included in the House and Senate bill enforced a ban on making bad faith assertions of patent infringement, a practice known as “patent trolling.” Trolling firms buy up multiple patents only to use them as leverage to launch lawsuits, entangling new startups in costly legal battles that hamper their productivity and sap their early investment funds.
The bill, H. 4868, authorizes more than $1 billion in grants to workforce training programs and public infrastructure projects across Massachusetts, including:
- $75 million in competitive grants for technical education and workforce training programs.
- $250 million in bonds to the MassWorks Infrastructure Program that will support thousands of jobs rebuilding roads and bridges, restoring historic ports and completing community revitalization projects.
- $500 million in local economic development aid.
The technical education grants will provide funding for new lab equipment such as microscopes, robotics training kits and 3D printers in classrooms across the state, allowing for new programs in robotics and other high-tech vocational fields.
In addition to workforce development, the bill also invests in the state’s cultural economy, promoting the arts and tourism industries. It also establishes a two-day sales tax holiday this year, which will take place on Aug. 11 and 12 ahead of the back-to-school shopping season.
Sen. Lesser and Rep. Joseph F. Wagner, as the chairs of the Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies, had worked in the final hours of the legislative session to reconcile the House and Senate versions, bringing a final bill to the Governor’s desk.