Throughout 2023, The New England Council’s policy committees and cross-sector working groups continued to work with our members to advocate for federal policies that support economic growth and a high quality of life in the region. These groups also provided forums for networking and information sharing, and hosted a variety of informative meetings and discussions with key federal policymakers and subject matter experts.
Energy & Environment Committee
- Inflation Reduction Act – Following the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act in late 2022, the committee hosted a briefing in February on the landmark legislation’s many energy-related tax provisions. The briefing was presented by former Senate Finance Committee Chief Counsel Mike Evans, now a partner at K&L Gates.
- Economic Impact of Climate Change – In May, the Council hosted a special program in Boston called “The Economic Impact of Climate Change.” The event, hosted by the New England Aquarium, featured keynote remarks from Senator Ed Markey, followed by a panel discussion with Council members representing a wide array of industries who offered insights on how climate change is impacting the region’s economic well-being, and how the business community is working to mitigate these impacts. Watch Here.
- Committee Meetings & Guest Speakers – Over the course of 2023, the Energy & Environment Committee hosted a variety of meetings with key leaders in the energy and environmental policy field, including:
- Congressional Energy Outlook Discussion with Todd Wooten of Holland & Knight and Chris Hodgson & Stacy Rich of Cornerstone Government Affairs
- Massachusetts Secretary of Energy & Environmental Affairs Rebecca Tepper
- Staff to Sen. Angus King (I-ME)
- U.S. Department of Energy’s Grid Deployment Office
- Rachel McCormick, Canada’s Director General of International and Intergovernmental Affairs for the Strategic Policy and Innovation Sector of Natural Resources Canada
Financial Services Committee
- Banking Regulation Briefing – Following a series of unexpected developments in the banking industry in early 2023, the Committee convened a special briefing in March focused on the expected regulatory response to the developments. The Committee heard from two banking policy experts who offered their insights on how the Biden Administration and Congress might respond to the recent events. Watch Here.
- E-Delivery – In July, the Council sent a letter to the New England House Delegation urging members to support H.R. 1807, the Improving Disclosure for Investors Act of 2023. This bipartisan bill would direct the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to transition the default method for receiving investor documents and disclosures from paper to digital (E-Delivery). Read the Letter.
- Insurance Regulations – In September, the Council submitted a comment letter to several federal agencies regarding a proposed regulation that would negatively impact Council members who provide short-term, limited-duration insurance (STLDI). The Council expressed concerns that the proposed rule would significantly restrict cost-effective financial protection insurance options for individual consumers while also subjecting policyholders to new taxes on the benefits received under the impacted policies. Read the Letter.
- Cannabis Banking – Building on a long history of support for legislation that would improve access to banking and other financial services for legal cannabis businesses, in November, the Council endorsed S. 2860, the Secure and Fair Enforcement Regulation (SAFER) Banking Act of 2023. In a letter to the New England Senate delegation, the Council urged passage of the bipartisan measure to support this growing new industry in the region. Read the Letter.
- Committee Meetings & Guest Speakers – In order to keep Council members updated on the latest policy developments impacting the financial services industry, the Financial Services Committee hosted a variety of informative meetings with senior members of the House Financial Services Committee, including:
- U.S. House Majority Whip Tom Emmer (R-MN)
- U.S. Representative Jim Himes (D-CT)
- U.S. Representative Stephen Lynch (D-MA)
- COVID-19 PHE Waivers – With the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency (PHE) expiring in May 2023, the Healthcare Committee developed a set of recommendations for policymakers highlighting the immediate and long-term benefits that the flexibility associated with the PHE has provided, as well as spotlighted the many new tools that were created as a direct response to the COVID-19 PHE. The recommendations were provided to all New England Congressional offices, and presented during a virtual briefing in March 2023. Read the Recommendations.
- Access to Telehealth – In March, the Committee submitted a comment letter to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency in response to a proposed rule that would limit the ability of providers to prescribe certain controlled substances via telemedicine appointments. The Council stressed the importance of telehealth as a key tool to ensure access to treatment for mental health challenges and substance use disorder. Read the Letter.
- Behavioral Health Forum – In November, the Healthcare Committee presented a special event, “Behavioral Health Forum: Regional Challenges and Solutions.” The program featured a fireside chat with U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan and U.S. Representative Annie Kuster, both champions for policies to expand access to behavioral health care. The event also featured a panel discussion with Council members with expertise in behavioral health who discussed key challenges in the region and initiatives to ensure access to quality and affordable care in the region. Watch the Program or View the Agenda.
- Committee Meetings & Guest Speakers – Over the course of the year, the Committee held several meetings with key healthcare policy experts, including:
- Staff to U.S. Representative Annie Kuster (D-NH)
- Marvin Figueroa, Director of Intergovernmental and External Affairs, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
Higher Education Committee
- Pell Grant – Building on the Council’s long history of support for the federal Pell Grant Program, which provides financial assistance for low-income college students, the Council wrote to the region’s Congressional delegation in March to urge them to support doubling the maximum Pell Grant amount for FY2024. Read the Letter.
- National Science Foundation – The Council has also long advocated for federal investment in scientific research, and to that end, in April, wrote to the region’s Congressional delegation urging them to support an increase in funding for the National Science Foundation (NSF) to $11.9 billion in FY2024. This amount is consistent with the NSF funding increase authorized in the 2022 CHIPS and Science Act that the Council supported. Read the Letter.
- Economic Impact of Higher Education – In May, the Council partnered with the New England Board of Higher Education (NEBHE) to release a series of fact sheets detailing the economic impact of the higher education sector in New England. The fact sheets included data for each state, as well as the region as a whole, on overall economic impact, employment, jobs created, and federal tax revenue generated, among other key data points. View Fact Sheets.
- Committee Meeting & Guest Speakers – Throughout 2023, the Higher Education Committee hosted a series of meetings to help keep members updated on the latest policy developments impacting the sector, with guest speakers including:
- Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP) Committee Staff
- U.S. Undersecretary of Education James Kvaal
- New England Commission on the Future of Higher Education in Prison
Technology & Innovation Working Group
- Research & Development Tax Deductions – Throughout 2023, advocating for a change to the federal tax code to promote research and development (R&D) was a top priority for the Council. The 2017 Tax Cuts & Jobs Act included a provision that went into effect in 2022 and requires businesses to amortize R&D expenses over five years, rather than fully deduct the expenses each year, as they were able to do prior to the law’s passage. This change has had a significant impact on a wide array of industries. stifling innovation and making the US less globally competitive. In the spring, the Council endorsed bipartisan legislation introduced in both the House and the Senate to reverse this change. In September, the Council convened a Hill Day where representatives of various member businesses gathered on Capitol Hill to meet with Congressional offices to advocate in support of these bills. And in November, as Congress considered a year-end tax deal, the Council wrote to key committee leaders negotiating the deal to urge them to include this provision in any package. Learn More.
- New England Innovates: The Blue Economy – In September, the Council hosted the latest installment of its popular “New England Innovates” series, this time focusing on challenges and opportunities for growing the region’s Blue Economy. The program, hosted by the New England Aquarium, featured keynote remarks by Dr. Richard Spinrad, Administrator of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Following Dr. Spinrad’s remarks, a panel of Council members highlighted their own innovations in the Blue Economy, and discussed how federal policymakers can continue to foster growth in this burgeoning sector. Watch the Program or View the Agenda.
- Artificial Intelligence Legislation – Due to significant new developments in the field of Artificial Intelligence (AI), Congressional leaders have been actively exploring approaches to the regulation of this new technology, which presents a variety of opportunities, as well as many risks. To help Council members navigate the array of legislative proposals introduced during the 118th Congress, Council staff prepared a comprehensive overview of current proposals that were released in November. The Council plans to continue to monitor new legislative developments, and will release updated versions of the resource in the months ahead. View the Overview
- Working Group Meetings & Guest Speakers – The Technology & Innovation Working Group hosted a variety of informative briefings with key federal agencies and staff, including:
- U.S. Department of Commerce CHIPS for America Office
- White House Office of the National Cybersecurity Director
- Former FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler
- U.S. Department of Commerce Tech Hubs Program
Transportation & Infrastructure Committee
- Bipartisan Infrastructure Law Implementation – In January, just over a year after the signing of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act – more commonly known as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law – the Council hosted a briefing on the implementation of the landmark legislation, featuring a presentation by Samantha Silverberg, Deputy Infrastructure Implementation Coordinator, and Special Assistant to the President for Transportation and Infrastructure Policy at the White House.
- FAA Reauthorization – In June, as the House of Representatives considered legislation to reauthorize the programs and policies of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the Council wrote to the region’s House delegation urging them to support the bill. In particular, the letter stressed the importance of updating policies related to the FAA in light of the travel industry’s ongoing recovery following the COVID-19 pandemic. Read the Letter.
- Committee Meetings & Guest Speakers – Over the course of the year, Council members had the opportunity to meet with several members of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee to discuss key issues before the committee. Committee Meeting guests included:
- U.S. Representative Chris Pappas (D-NH)
- U.S. Representative Jake Auchincloss (D-MA)