This page lists important Ballot Questions and Massachusetts State Legislation that Individual Artists of All Disciplines should know about as well as key information on the State's Budget process. Join this site's list serve to be notified when action is needed. First step, however, is for you to introduce yourself to your elected State Legislators (and Federal elected officials) and you can find out who they are on our the Policy Makers section.

Also see our News Section to keep up with other important issues. To learn more about how legislation becomes law see Lawmaking in Massachusetts. To register to vote and/or find out who represents you in government - ie How to find your state representative and your state senator (Note they are listed under District Representatives and Senator):http://www.wheredoivotema.com/bal/myelectioninfo.aspx

(This page was updated on 11/5/17)

Massachusetts State Budget Process

The State's budget process for 2018 is over and it will restart in January 2018 with the Governor filing his budget on January 25th. There is a key page on the state's official website that allows one to learn about and track the Budget Process and the Budget Documents.

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Massachusetts Film Tax Credits Program: One of the key programs worth following and protecting is the Massachusetts Film Tax Credit Program.


2017- 2018 Massachusetts Legislative Session-is now underway. (PDF of the Key Legislation listed in this section)

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You can easily track pieces of legislation

EMERGENCY AID FUND FOR ARTISTS OF ALL DISCIPLINES

H.1787 An Act establishing a disaster and emergency aid fund for Massachusetts artists, filed by Rep. Chris Walsh & its counter part in the Senate S.1893 filed by Senator Linda Dorcena Forry

The bill was originally filed in 2008 and was been refiled in 2009, 2011 and 2013 and 2015. It would allow for the State Treasurer's Office to establish a specific state fund for Disaster/Emergency Aid for Massachusetts Artists working in all disciplines. This fund will be used to help artists who have had a health care emergency (i.e. could not pay their medical bills or medical insurance) as well as to help those artists who suffered other types of emergencies (fires, floods, theft). The funds would be generated from funds raised from the private sector.

SUPPORTING ARTISTS, PUBLIC ART AND ARTISTS IN RESIDENCY PROGRAMSRIGHTS/LABOR ISSUES & INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY

H.1788 An Act relative to procurement services for artists, filed by Rep. Chris Walsh & its counter part in the Senate, S.1900 An Act furthering growth in the creative economy, filed by Senator James T. Welch

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ Public Procurement Act, Chapter 30B, has precise language on the process for the procurement of supplies, services or real property by a governmental body. Currently, under 30B, it is not possible to pay artists to develop with a concept. The competitive bidding process does not take into account subjective value, which is intrinsic to art. These two pieces of legislation correct this and if passed will allow more public art, artists in residency programs and artists of all disciplines to be hired by our municipalities. It is revenue neutral. States that have this exemption: AK, Delaware, FL, GA, ID, IL, KY, NJ, NM, NC, PA, RI, SC, and SD.

H.2717 An Act to establish a Massachusetts percent for the arts program, filed by Rep. Chris Walsh & its counter part in the Senate, S.1896, filed by Senator Eric P. Lesser

The Commonwealth needs a percent for art program. The structure of the program is well thought out and has both a public art commission and a paid coordinator of the program. This legislation supports Massachusetts artists by giving them preference and also protects artists’ intellectual property rights.

ARTISTS RIGHTS/LABOR ISSUES & INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY

H.1043 An Act Relative to the Creative Economy Bill -filed by Rep. Chris Walsh & its counter part in the Senate, S.1030, filed by Senator Michael O. Moore

The Independent Contractor 2004 law change has been an issue that has been negatively impacting those in the Creative Economy. These two identical bills fix this issue for our sector with an intellectual property carve out. The 2004 Independent Contractor law change made it next to impossible for people to be classified as independent contractors in this State. Once you are classified as an employee you do not own or control your intellectual property*. It is the property of the employer. These bills exempt artists of all disciplines from the Indepedent Contractor Law and has language to safe guard someone being forced into being an indepedent contrator. The indivudual needs to "freely and voluntarily identifies, markets or promotes oneself as a freelancer, as self-employed, as a sole proprietor or as an independent business; (ii) controls and regularly negotiates the use of the individual’s intellectual property; and (iii) meets the federal standards for being an independent contractor including, but not limited to, standards developed by the United States Internal Revenue Service or Department of Labor."

OF note these bills keep" language" that passed in the Senate last session- S2451.

Background information on the issue

These are important pieces of legislation and need to be supported. Note: there were several other Independent Contractor Bills filed. None of them fix it for artists working in all disciplines.

*Intellectual property encompasses copyright, patents, trademarks, royalties, licensing rights, publishing rights, etc.

H.1642- An Act Relative to Artistic Contributions, filed by Rep. Chris Walsh

House Bill 1642 is modeled after a federal piece of legislation (Artist-Museum Partnership Act (HR 1830)) which would allow artists to deduct (on their federal taxes) the fair market value of work they donate to a nonprofit collecting institution: This bill would help to better support Massachusetts of all disciplines who donate or are asked to donate their work to non profit collecting institutions such as museums, libraries, and archives. Presently, artists can only deduct the cost of materials on their state and federal taxes for work they donate to a collecting institution, while those who donate a work of art they own (ie did not create it) may deduct the full fair market value of the art work on their state and federal taxes. Passing this law will also help our collecting institutions, most of which have very limited collecting funds/budgets, to acquire and preserve more arts works for future generations.

H.1786 An Act relative to resale royalties for artists, filed by Rep. Chris Walsh

The need for this legislation to become law is urgent. Visual artists should be able to earn royalties when their work is resold. Artists in other disciplines (musicians, songwriters, writers etc.) have such needed revenue streams. The Massachusetts Cultural Council would be part of this needed solution to ensure visual artists are paid for their work when it is resold in the market place.

There is also a Federal version of this legislation: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/christopher-rauschenberg/artists-deserve-royalties_b_5588388.html

NEEDED ECONOMIC INITIATIVE FOR MASSACHUSETTS ARTISTS

S.1895 An Act to foster artist businesses in Cultural Districts, by Senator Eric P. Lesser

This legislation not only builds upon the Massachusetts Cultural Council’s important and successful state wide Cultural Districts program, but it supports Massachusetts artists by exempting one of a kind works of art from the state’s sale tax when sold in a MCC approved cultural district.

LAUREATE PROGRAMS

H.1784 An Act to create the position of poet laureate for the commonwealth of Massachusetts, filed by Rep. Denise Provost 

This is a good bill but it needs to offer a modest stipend to at least cover the poet laureate's travel costs. There must also be administrative support from a designated state agency to help them fulfill their role (help with outreach and PR, etc.). A good model is the private/public partnership the National Poet Laureate position uses as a model to follow. The link that model: http://www.loc.gov/poetry/about_laureate.html Artists should be compensated for their work.

H.1785 An Act relative to the architect laureate, filed by Rep. Chris Walsh

Again this is a good bill but it needs to offer a modest stipend to at least cover the poet laureate's travel costs. There must also be administrative support from a designated state agency to help them fulfill their role (help with outreach and PR, etc.). A good model is the private/public partnership the National Poet Laureate position uses as a model to follow. Artists should be compensated for their work.

OTHER PIECES OF LEGISLATION

H.1782 An Act to expand membership opportunities in local cultural councils, filed by Rep. Kenneth Gordon

It is important to encourage more residents of the Commonwealth to become involved with the arts. The Local Cultural Councils, a program of the Mass Cultural Council, does this. This legislation will enable more people to engage with the arts and our local governments.

H.3017 An Act to preserve affordable housing through a local option tenant's right to purchase, filed by Rep. Denise Provost

This legislation authorizes municipalities to grant tenants of residential buildings with three or more units the right of first refusal to purchase such buildings at fair market value.