Category: Legislative News

190th Session Recap: Elections Laws and Reform

190th Session Recap: Election Laws

H.4834 – An Act automatically registering eligible voters and enhancing safeguards against fraud

Overview:

  • This was an important priority for Jay, who co-sponsored this bill and advocated for it.
  • Directs the Secretary of State to work with the Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) and MassHealth to automatically enroll eligible individuals to the Commonwealth’s voter rolls.
  • Secretary of State will adopt regulations governing the AVR system, including provisions requiring electronic transmission, data security protocols, and integration with online portals.

Outcome: This bill was passed in both chambers and signed by the Governor on August 9, 2018

To read the full text of the bill, click here.

190th Session Recap: Labor and Workforce Development

190th Session Recap: Labor and Workforce Development

 

H.4640 – An Act relative to minimum wage, paid family medical leave and the sales tax holiday

Overview:

  • Jay was a strong advocate for increasing the minimum wage and for creating paid family leave as a program for Massachusetts and he co-sponsored legislation to accomplish these goals.  Unfortunately, these provisions could not be passed without the inclusion of other provisions that he did not support, such as ending Sunday premium pay.
  • The law incrementally raises the current $11-an-hour minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2023.
  • Raises the current tipped minimum wage in Massachusetts of $3.75 an hour by 60-cent increments each year until it reaches $6.75 in 2023.
  • Beginning in 2021, employees — even self-employed workers — will be allowed to take up to 12 weeks of paid family leave and up to 20 weeks of paid medical leave — with the guarantee that they can return to their previous job or an “equivalent position” with the same pay, status, and benefits.
  • Establishes an annual Sales Tax Holiday in the State of Massachusetts.

Outcome: This bill was passed in both chambers and was signed by the Governor on June 28, 2018

To read the full text of the bill, click here.

H.36380 – An Act establishing the Massachusetts Pregnant Workers Fairness Act

  • Jay was an advocate and co-sponsor of this legislation.
  • Adds pregnancy and  pregnancy related conditions, including lactation and expressing breast milk, to the list of qualifiers employers cannot discriminate against
  • Prevents employers from denying reasonable accommodations for pregnancy or pregnancy related conditions
  • Prevents employer from refusing to hire a pregnant person because of the pregnancy or a pregnancy related condition
  • Includes a non-exhaustive list of reasonable accommodations:
    • More frequent/longer paid/unpaid breaks
    • Time off to recover from childbirth (paid or unpaid)
    • Seating
    • Temporary transfer to a less strenuous position
    • Job restructuring
    • Light duty
    • Private non-private space for expressing breast milk
    • Assistance with manual labor
    • Modified work schedules

Outcome:This bill passed in the House and Senate and was signed into law by the Governor.
To read the full text of the bill, click here.

190th Session Recap: Animal Rights

190th Session Recap: Animal Rights

S.2646 – An Act to protect animal welfare and safety in cities and towns (PAWS II)

Overview:

  • Jay was a co-sponsor and advocate for this animal rights bills, as well as several others that unfortunately were not successful.
  • Builds upon changes to the state’s animal cruelty laws made with passage of the PAWS Act in 2014.
  • Includes provisions to ensure that abuse is reported.
  • Ensures efficient enforcement of animal control laws.
  • Prohibits the drowning of animals – wild and domestic.
  • Updates the animal fighting law to prevent the automatic killing of animal fighting victims.
  • Adds animal crimes to the list of offenses that serve as the basis for a request for a determination of detention and/or release upon conditions.
  • Ensures that landlords check vacant properties for the presence of abandoned animals and clarify the law relating to when animals were abandoned.
  • Updates law against animal sex abuse.
  • Updates a law relating to who/what entities can be charged with certain types of animal cruelty (corporations).

Outcome: This bill was passed in both chambers and signed by the Governor on August 9, 2018

To read the full text of the bill, click here.

190th Session Recap: Human Rights

190th Session Recap: Human Rights

 

H.1190 – An Act relative to abusive practices to change sexual orientation and gender identity in minors

  • Jay was a co-sponsor and advocate for this bill.
  • The bill prohibits health care providers (including but not limited to physician, psychologist, social worker, nurse, or allied mental health and human services professional, including marriage and family therapist, rehabilitation counselor, mental health counselor, or educational psychologist) from advertising for or engaging in efforts that attempt or purport to impose change on the sexual orientation or gender identity of a patient less than 18 years of age.

Outcome: This bill was passed by the House in June 2018 and by the Senate in the last moments of the legislative session on July 31, 2018.  Jay hopes that it will receive final enactment in the informal sessions that will happen now until the start of next term.
To read the full text of the House bill, click here.

S.2260 – An Act negating archaic statutes targeting young women (NASTY Women’s Act)

  • Jay was a co-sponsor and advocate for this bill.
  • Strikes requirement that abortions performed after the thirteenth week of pregnancy be performed in a hospital (unconstitutional via Eisenstadt v. Baird, 405 U.S. 438 (1972)).
  • Repeals:
    • Criminalization of adultery
    • Criminalization of fornication
    • Criminalization of procuring a miscarriage
    • Criminalization of advertisement of abortion services
    • Criminalization of selling or giving away instruments or drugs to cause abortion
  • Removes restriction limiting contraception access to only married couples (unconstitutional via Akron v. Akron Center for Reproductive Health, 62 U.S. 416 (1983).).

Outcome: This bill passed in the House and Senate and was signed into law by the Governor.
To read the full text of the bill, click here

H.1110 – An Act Establishing Three New Commissions on the Status of Women and Girls

  • Jay voted in favor of this legislation.
  • The Eastern Regional Commission will conduct an ongoing study of all women’s matters within those communities and report its findings annually to the Commission on the Status of Women. The Regional commission will recommend solutions to the identified problems.
  • The Eastern Regional Commission consists of 9 people appointed by the Commission on the Status of Women from communities around Massachusetts.

Outcome: This bill passed in the House and Senate and was signed into law by the Governor.
To read the full text of the bill, click here

H.36380 – An Act establishing the Massachusetts Pregnant Workers Fairness Act

  • Jay was a co-sponsor and advocate for this bill.
  • Adds pregnancy and  pregnancy related conditions, including lactation and expressing breast milk, to the list of qualifiers employers cannot discriminate against
  • Prevents employers from denying reasonable accommodations for pregnancy or pregnancy related conditions
  • Prevents employer from refusing to hire a pregnant person because of the pregnancy or a pregnancy related condition
  • Includes a non-exhaustive list of reasonable accommodations:
    • More frequent/longer paid/unpaid breaks
    • Time off to recover from childbirth (paid or unpaid)
    • Seating
    • Temporary transfer to a less strenuous position
    • Job restructuring
    • Light duty
    • Private non-private space for expressing breast milk
    • Assistance with manual labor
    • Modified work schedules

Outcome:This bill passed in the House and Senate and was signed into law by the Governor.
To read the full text of the bill, click here.

190th Session Wrap Up: Criminal Justice Reform

190th Session Wrap Up: Criminal Justice Reform

As we wrap up yet another legislative session, my office has worked to provide recaps on the vast array of subject areas that I have worked on and voted on in the Chamber. Below is an overview of the criminal justice legislation that the House voted on this session (May 19th 2018 & November 15th 2018). 

This session, criminal justice reform finally took substantial steps towards progress for the Commonwealth. Two pieces of legislation were passed on the subject. One, and omnibus criminal justice bill, encompasses a wide breadth of topics including justice system data collection, the juvenile justice system, mandatory minimums and solitary confinement among them. Also relevant, An Act limiting the use of prison labor, was a direct response to the Trump administration suggestion that certain MA inmates travel to the southern border in order to help “build the wall.” This act prohibits MA inmates from doing labor outside the prison’s boundaries. Both of these acts aim to keep our community safe and protect inmates from cruel prison practices.  Jay has been a strong advocate for criminal justice reform since he started in the legislature based on his experiences in the Middlesex District Attorney’s office as a prosecutor.  He was a strong advocate for several provisions that made it into the final legislation, including the elimination of mandatory minimums for drug offenses, diversion to treatment for certain crimes, and bail reform.   

H.4011- An Act relative to criminal justice reform

Topic: Omnibus Criminal Justice Bill

  • Standardizes arrest data collection by requiring the department of criminal justice to obtain arrest data in a format consistent with the FBI’s National Incident-Based reporting System and maintain the information of a publicly accessible website.
  • Establishes a Childhood Trauma Task Force to study and give recommendations on the treatment of juveniles in the justice system.
  • Requires convicted felons to submit required DNA sample upon conviction rather than within one year of conviction.
  • Eliminates minimum sentencing for several drug offenses.
  • Raises the min. age of a delinquent child.
  • Requires the Office of the Child Advocate to record data for the juvenile justice system.
  • Limits the amount of time an inmate can spend in solitary confinement.
  • Extends Good Samaritan protections.
  • Prevents an employer from discriminating against an applicant for employment for failing to provide information on a misdemeanor conviction over three years old.
  • Establishes the criminal offense of manslaughter by a business organization.
  • Includes sections on:
    • Bail reform
    • Criminal records
    • Restorative justice
    • Medical Parole
    • Diversion programs

Outcome: This bill passed through both chambers and was signed by the Governor on April 13, 2018

To read the full text of the House bill, click here.

To read the full text of the Conference Committee Report (Final Version), click here.

Notes:

Diversion to Treatment – This provision to the bill was based on a proposal that I made. The diversion to treatment component makes it so that an alternative route to incarceration can exist for first time offenders of any age. It requires District Attorney’s offices across the State to implement such rehabilitative programs and to ensure access to veterans, juveniles, persons with disabilities, and persons with substance abuse disorders.

Bail Reform – I was proud to jointly file this amendment with Representative Rogers to establish a Bail Commission to study the effectiveness of the current cash bail system and seek the feasibility of a Risk Assessment Tool for the Commonwealth. There is also a component to speak to biases that can occur in such a Risk Assessment.  Changes to our bail laws will have a great impact on our criminal justice system as all defendants are impacted by the bail rules.

 

H.3034- An Act limiting the use of prison labor

Topic: Criminal Justice
SummaryRequires that any inmate work program in MA be performed within its boundaries and prohibits MA’s participation in any national inmate work program to build a wall along the country’s southern border.
Outcome: This bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Ways & Means.

To read the full text of the bill, click here.