News Briefs: Senate approves Dewey Court conveyance to Great Barrington Housing Authority; nonprofit independence upheld as Johnson Amendment protected

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By Friday, Dec 15 News

Dewey Court in Sheffield conveyed to Great Barrington Housing Authority

Boston — State Sen. Adam G. Hinds, D-Pittsfield, has announced that the Massachusetts Senate Thursday engrossed S.2102, “An Act authorizing the Berkshire County Regional Housing Authority to convey a certain parcel of land in the town of Sheffield to the Great Barrington Housing Authority.”

The legislation was sponsored by Hinds and state Rep. William “Smitty” Pignatelli, D-Lenox, at the request of the Berkshire County Regional Housing Authority in May. Prior to Thursday’s Senate approval, the bill was reviewed and favorably recommended by both the Joint Committee on Municipalities and Regional Government and the Senate Committee on Bonding, Capital Expenditures and State Assets. There is no known opposition to S.2102, which also has the support of the Department of Housing and Community Development, the board of the Great Barrington Housing Authority and the BCRHA board of directors.

For five years BCRHA has contracted with the GBHA to provide onsite property management and maintenance at the Dewey Court development, a state-aided public housing development located in Sheffield which hosts 22 elderly units and eight family units. This agreement helped both authorities achieve effective regionalization strategies to meet the fiscal and logistical challenges of remotely managing a small state-housing portfolio. The Dewey Court units provide GBHA greater resources and capacity to meet their residents’ housing needs, while the Pittsfield-based BCRHA benefited from having the more local GBHA manage Dewey Court on a day-to-day basis.

The final goal of the agreement is to convey full ownership of Dewey Court from BCRHA to GBHA so efficiencies realized under the contract are able to continue in perpetuity. Enactment of the legislation will authorize the conveyance and fulfill the authorities’ intent.

The legislation now goes to the Massachusetts House of Representatives for consideration.

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Nonprofit independence upheld as Johnson Amendment protected in final tax bill

Boston — The independence of the nonprofit community was upheld Thursday night as language that would have severely impeded nonprofits’ abilities to pursue their missions was stricken from the final version of the tax reform bill.

During deliberations in the U.S. Senate, the chamber’s parliamentarian blocked language that would have repealed the Johnson Amendment, a provision in the current U.S. tax code that prohibits charitable organizations from endorsing candidates for political office.

“While the final tax bill set to be revealed today will contain a litany of provisions harmful to our sector, nonprofits will be able to operate free from partisan politics, ‘dark money,’ and tax-deductible political contributions,” said Massachusetts Nonprofit Network CEO Jim Klocke.

Over the past few weeks, MNN activated its members in an expansive email-and-phone-call campaign directed toward federal representatives integral in tax reform deliberations, including U.S. Rep. Richard Neal of the Massachusetts 1st Congressional District, who is the ranking Democrat on the House of Representatives’ Ways and Means Committee.

But the fight for the Johnson Amendment is far from over, Klocke noted, as Congressional leaders may try to repeal the Amendment in the near future: “We look forward to continuing our work with our members and colleagues as we pursue our ultimate public policy goal: enacting policies that strengthen and unite, not divide, our communities.”

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