SECTION 1. Chapter 23A of the General Laws is hereby amended by adding the following section:-
Section 68. (a) There shall be a grant program within the department known as the Western Massachusetts Remote Worker Incentive Program, hereafter referred to as the program, for the purpose of encouraging new remote workers who work for in-state and out-of-state employers to live in Hampshire, Hampden, Franklin or Berkshire County, by providing financial assistance for qualifying remote worker expenses. The program shall be administered by the department. Nothing in this section guarantees an individual a right to the benefits provided in this section.
As used in this section, the following words shall have the following meanings unless the context clearly requires otherwise:
“New remote worker” means an individual who (i) is an employee of a business with its domicile or primary place of business outside of Hampshire, Hampden, Franklin or Berkshire County; (ii) becomes a full-time resident of the commonwealth in Hampshire, Hampden, Franklin or Berkshire County; and (iii) performs the majority of her or his employment duties remotely from a home office or a co-working space located in Hampshire, Hampden, Franklin or Berkshire County.
“Qualifying remote worker expenses” means actual costs a new remote worker incurs for one or more of the following that are necessary to perform her or his employment duties, including but not limited to (i) relocation to Hampshire, Hampden, Franklin or Berkshire County; (ii) computer software and hardware; (iii) broadband access or upgrade; and (iv) membership in a co-working or similar space.
(b) A new remote worker may be eligible for a grant under the program for qualifying remote worker expenses in the amount of not more than $5,000 per year, not to exceed a total of $10,000 per individual new remote worker over the life of the program.
(c) The department of economic development shall award grants under the program on a first-come, first-served basis, as follows: (i) not more than $250,000 in calendar year 2020; (ii) not more than $500,000 in calendar year 2021; (iii) not more than $250,000 in calendar year 2022.
(d) The department shall design and implement the program, which shall include a certification process to certify new remote workers and certify qualifying expenses for a grant under this section. Applications for the program shall be reviewed and grants shall be awarded on an annual basis.
(e) The department shall, at a minimum, (i) adopt procedures for implementing the program; (ii) promote awareness of the program, including through coordination with relevant trade groups and by integration into the department’s economic development marketing campaigns; and (iii) adopt measurable goals, performance measures, and an audit strategy to assess the utilization and performance of the program. The department shall promulgate regulations on or before January 1, 2020.
(f) On or before October 1, 2020, the department shall submit a report to the house and senate ways and means committees, the joint committee on economic development and emerging technologies and the joint committee on labor and workforce development concerning the implementation of this section, including but not limited to (i) a description of the procedures adopted pursuant to subdivision (e)(i) of this section; (ii) the promotion and marketing of the program pursuant to subdivision (e)(ii) of this section; (iii) any additional recommendations for qualifying remote worker expenses or qualifying workers that should be eligible under the program, and (iv) any recommendations for changes to the maximum allowable amount of the grant.
SECTION 2. Section 68 of Chapter 23A, inserted by Section 1, is hereby repealed.
SECTION 3. Section 2 shall take effect on January 1, 2022.
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