On January 2, Nika Elugardo was sworn into her first term as the state representative for the 15th Suffolk District. So what's on her legislative plate?
Q: Which of the bills are refiles and which ones are original bills being submitted for the first time?
Elugardo: Of the 15 bills we filed, two are refiles: H2453 An Act to amend the Brownfields tax credit, and H3282 An Act to prevent unnecessary vacancies in foreclosed homes.
The rest were original bills drafted by my team, by advocate partners, or in collaboration with partners.
Q: Which one(s) are most important to you?
Elugardo: My three housing bills and my bill on the tax expenditure commission are particularly exciting. The land equity and deed restriction bills provide creative tools for generating affordable housing. The elder housing bill is an important bipartisan attempt to help low-income home owners and renters age in place. The tax expenditure commission bill sets up an oversight program for recapturing underperforming tax credits, an important potential source of revenue for transportation or other needs.
Q: There's an act to accelerate the renewable portfolio standard. Your predecessor took heat for not supporting stronger renewable energy legislation. How does this bill support stronger renewable energy?
Elugardo: I am a huge supporter of the Decker-Garballey bill that, among other important provisions, mandates fully renewable electricity by 2035. Rep. Connolly and I co-filed a research-based companion that lays out an RPS increase schedule that would get us there, giving us five years at the current levels to prepare for an aggressive series of increases to the standard. It's critical to have clear numbers behind the mandate. This bill presents two unintended consequences that we absolutely have to address. These are the need to develop renewable storage capacity and production at levels that to some seem currently impossible. We have hired a climate fellow to research our options here, and are meeting with local experts to help us understand this challenge and potential solutions.
Q: What would an act to prevent unnecessary vacancies in foreclosed homes do? How does it help people?
Elugardo: This legislation would allow the mortgagor and any household members to be permitted to remain in the home until the binding purchase and sale agreement has been executed by a person who intends to occupy the space as their primary residence and is not a foreclosing owner.
Q: What is the resolution to establish a commission on shifting funds from new nuclear weapons to transportation?
Elugardo: We drafted this bill in collaboration with Mass Peace Action. In essence, this Commission would provide a data-based report and recommended language to the Massachusetts Legislature for a call to the US Congress to reallocate funds from new nuclear weapons development to state transportation and infrastructure projects - "Bridges not Bombs" if you will.