Sunday on This Week in Business, Jim Lowell, Chief Investment Officer at Adviser Investments & Editor off fidelityinvestor.com, joined hosts Paul Guzzi and NECN anchor Mike Nikitas to discuss the impact of international unrest on the US economy and the latest Massachusetts employment data. Watch this segment here.
In the Briefing Room, Tony Kingsley, Executive Vice President of Global Commercial Operations for Biogen Idec, joined to discuss the company’s latest drug development efforts to combat Alzheimer’s and MS. Watch this segment here.
On the Business Beat, NECN’s Peter Howe weighs in on the audit of the Boston Redevelopment Authority, the latest in casinos, and a new state budget provision that allows wineries to ship directly to Massachusetts residents. Watch this segment here.
On Thursday night, Chamber EVP Jim Klocke went On the Record with NECN’s Mike Nikitas to discuss the latest progress made on the new MA Health Connector website, key issues still in play on Beacon Hill as the current legislative session winds down, and a new practice facility for the Boston Bruins. Watch the interview here.
As of the last week in June, Governor Patrick, the House, and the Senate had all proposed economic development bills that would promote innovation and strengthen the state’s economy. Each bill includes a Chamber proposal to create a state Financial Services Advisory Council.
The Chamber has been working on several fronts to strengthen the state’s financial services sector, which makes such a large contribution to the Greater Boston and Massachusetts economies. As part of this effort, the Chamber filed a bill for the 2013-2014 legislative session to create a Financial Services Advisory Council. The language creating the council is similar in all three bills, with only minor differences to be resolved in the days ahead.
The bills have larger differences on other issues, including non-compete agreements and research and development (R&D) tax credits. The House bill preserves the state’s policy allowing non-compete agreements, a position the Chamber supports. The Senate bill proposes a number of restrictions on those agreements, as well as changes to intellectual property laws, both of which would affect companies in a wide range of industries. That bill also contains an expansion of research and development tax credits which the Chamber supports.
The Chamber will continue to work with leaders in the House, Senate, and Patrick Administration for final passage of an economic development bill by July 31, the end of the 2014 legislative session.
In late June, changes to the state’s unemployment insurance (UI) system became law that will bring significant cost relief to the Massachusetts business community, helping to address a longstanding competitive disadvantage for the region. They follow months of advocacy by the Chamber and other groups on UI issues, and were part of a bill that also increased the state’s minimum wage. This is the first time in over a decade that employers have seen real UI cost relief.
The reforms provide real UI cost relief in 2015, and preserve that relief through at least 2017. The vast majority of employers will experience an average savings of more than 25 percent, and most other employers will see an average savings of 15 percent.
These changes follow a one-year freeze that was passed earlier in the year, keeping 2014 UI rates at 2013 levels. Rates in 2015, 2016, and 2017 will be lower than those in 2014. A Chamber analysis released in March showed that Massachusetts employers had the fourth highest UI cost burden in the country, and that without that rate freeze and further UI reform, it would have become the highest among the 50 states.