Bills > 2017-2018 Session

Session 2017-2018, Bills filed

Filed with Senator Joan Lovely, S456
Lead is a potent neurotoxin, and exposure can cause a variety of health problems, including intellectual and behavioral disabilities, stunted growth, hearing loss, and anemia. Children are particularly at risk to lead poisoning, as the physical and behavioral effects of lead occur at lower exposure levels for younger people. Despite the overall decline in lead levels in drinking water, many places still have dangerous amounts of lead in their water systems. Flint, MI is experiencing an ongoing crisis, with some drinking water classified as hazardous waste, prompting a State of Emergency. In Massachusetts, a recent round of water sample testing found that out of 300 public schools tested, 164 buildings (over half) had a lead level above the high 15 ppb threshold, and at least two dozen other schools have not been tested for lead in over six years. This legislation requires measures to eliminate the public health threat of lead in drinking water at schools and early childhood programs, including yearly water testing requirements and the purchase of filters and the removal of exterior lead service lines.
·         Water Sampling Results from MA School Testing: Lead Levels in MA Schools
       Daily Hampshire Gazette Editorial State Regulations needed to ensure safe water in schools
Filed with Senator Joan Lovely, SD1989
Massachusetts is one of only 15 states that does not have a law protecting minors who call for medical help when either they or a friend has consumed a life-threatening amount of alcohol. These policies have been shown to reduce barriers to calling for help, and save lives. This legislation implements one of these policies by providing minors with immunity from punishment when they seek emergency medical services for alcohol overdose.
This legislation creates a task force to develop a model sexual assault climate survey for the campuses of public and private institutions of higher education in the Commonwealth. It also mandates that all higher education institutions in the Commonwealth annually implement either the model survey or an internally developed survey and report the results to the Commissioner of Higher Education.
For subscribers to Mass Lawyers Weeklyhere is a link to an article discussing this bill and several others. Excerpt: "The benefit of this approach is that the feedback from the survey would be uniform," Ehrlich said. That, in turn, would allow valid comparisons to be made and conclusions to be drawn about aggravating and positive circumstances and best practices. Ehrlich said the results could assist prospective students as well as policymakers. "Colleges will hopefully see this as another statistic that potential students will use to judge them and seek to make the best possible environment," she said. Colby Bruno, senior legal counsel for the Boston-based Victim Rights Law Center, said her organization "unequivocally supports" the bill and believes the surveys would ensure any legislation that may follow will be based on good data. Even Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier, D-Pittsfield -- cosponsor of a more comprehensive bill in the House -- said if "we could only do one thing, the most important is the campus climate survey."

PASSED! This bill was absorbed into the House budget and passed by a vote of the House.

Filed with Representative Marjorie Decker
With the recently expanded Earned Income Tax Credit, Massachusetts will be sending almost $8 million to about 20,000 filers who are residents of other states. This bill would clarify language partial-year residents and disallows the credit for nonresidents. The bill also expands access to the EITC for survivors of domestic abuse by allowing them to claim the credit while filing their taxes as “married, filing separately.” As of now, individuals are often impeded from claiming the EITC unless they file their taxes jointly with their spouse.
·         Commonwealth Magazine: Rep: Millions in Tax Credit go out of State 
The Boston Globe Chesto Means Business: Bill is included in the Budget!
This bill forbids health insurers from assigning a tobacco use factor to insurance premiums, which impedes treatment for cessation of smoking. This bill is supported by the American Cancer Society.
Filed with Senator Will Brownsberger, S988
This legislation would limit enforcement of noncompete agreements in Massachusetts, bringing relief to workers and creating a better environment for growth and innovation. Recent focus has been on overuse of noncompetes in every sector of the economy in jobs such as from camp counselors, sandwich makers at Jimmy John's, event planners, pesticide applicators, yogurt shop workers, and many others. This bill as filed is very close to the version that passed unanimously in the House last session.
                  The New York Times Paul Krugman: The Unfreeing of American Workers
                  The New York Times: Signing away the right to a new job
·         The Boston Globe: House unanimously approves limits to noncompete agreements
·         State House News/WBUR: House passes bill with restrictions on noncompetes        
·         BostInno: This is the Year Boston Eradicates Noncompetes                      
·         COMPUTERWORLD: As Noncompete use expands, backlash grows 
·         The New York Times: focus on Massachusetts: Noncompetes increasingly popping up in an array of jobs 
·         State House News: Beacon Hill considering Noncompete Law Changes
·         Fortune Magazine: Are Noncompete Agreements Hurting Tech Innovation?
·         Boston Globe columnist Dante Ramos: Employers want noncompetes, but what is it worth to them?
Filed with Senator Kathleen O’Connor Ives
This legislation would ban the use of circus elephants in all traveling animal acts in Massachusetts. Feld Entertainment, the parent company of Ringling Bros., plans to close its doors but there are still other smaller traveling shows featuring elephants that need the same protection.
                  National Geographic Why all of American's Circus Animals will soon be free
·         Associated Press: Ringling phasing out iconic elephant act by 2018
·         The Boston Globe Editorial: Ringling's elephant move is a start
·         The New York Times Editorial: Why not retire the circus elephants now? 
·         Lowell Sun: Outlaw this Cruel Treatment of Circus Elephants
·         Sacramento Bee: Lawmakers send Jerry Brown bill to ban use of bullhooks on elephants                                                                                                                                   
Filed with Senator Jason Lewis
The near extinction of African elephants, killed at a rate of approximately 96 per day, is being driven by a thirst for ivory. The United States is the 2nd largest market for illegal ivory trafficking, and the Boston/Cambridge market is the 7th largest in the country. Driven by global demand, wildlife trafficking of ivory and rhino horns is one of the world’s most lucrative criminal activities, valued at $7-$10 billion annually. Although President Obama has strengthened federal regulations which were riddled with loopholes, enforcement has been lax, and any ivory that makes its way into Massachusetts can still be sold within our borders. This legislation would help to save these majestic creatures from the brink of extinction by reducing demand, strengthening enforcement, and increasing penalties.
·         Bi-Partisan Congressional letter in support of stricter Federal rule on trade, import, and export. 
·         **The Boston Globe: Massachusetts sees Brisk Trade in Illicit Ivory
·         The Boston Business Journal: reports on a Concord, MA woman charged for shipping an entire rhino head from MA to China Concord Business Owner charged with smuggling ivory, rhinocerous horns from U.S. to China
·         The Washington Post: has covered this topic extensively: Overwhelmed U.S. Port Inspectors Unable to Keep up with Illegal Wildlife Trade Losing two majestic species for what? Trinkets.
·         Financial Times: Op-ed by Sec. of State Clinton and Chelsea Clinton We all have a role to play in ending the ivory trade                                          
·         National Geographic: Citizens spur states to ban trade in Ivory and Rhino Horn                
·         Marblehead Reporter: Taking their case to Clinton
·         Swampscott Reporter: State Rep. Ehrlich meets with Pres. Clinton
·         Wicked Local: Bill takes aim at Ivory sales in Massachusetts
Filed with Representative Ann-Margaret Ferrante and Senator Michael Moore, SD654
This legislation updates penalties for poaching and enters Massachusetts into the interstate law enforcement compact, which protects tourism and business.
Filed with Senator Jamie Eldridge, S1104
This legislation implements a one year phase-out of single-use plastic bags, which clog our gutters and storm drains, litter our sidewalks, and harm marine life, by placing a minimum ten cent fee on single-use plastic bags, paper bags, and reusable bags. After one year, retailers and grocers may no longer provide plastic bags. 41 communities in Massachusetts have already passed their own ordinances and many have ordinances pending.
·         Boston Globe: Cambridge City Council Approves Ban on Plastic Bags
This bill allows the owner of a motor vehicle, upon their death, to transfer their vehicle to a person of their choice. This keeps the inheritance process for vehicles out of probate court, easing the transition of a significant asset.
This bill compels banks to inform consumers that they may designate someone to receive their account upon their death, avoiding probate court.
This legislation adds volunteer EMT vehicles to the list of vehicles allowed to have a siren mounted on top of the vehicle. Currently, fire engines, ambulances, volunteer firefighter vehicles,  vehicles operated by persons with police powers and operated in official line of duty, and vehicles used in official line of duty by any member of the police or fire fighting forces of the commonwealth, may have a siren mounted on top of the vehicle.
Filed with Senator Thomas McGee
This legislation would change the definition of “low-speed vehicle” in Chapter 90 to include vehicles with either three or four wheels. Currently, the definition only includes vehicles with four wheels.
Voted out of committee with a favorable report!
This legislation protects consumers by ensuring that payments made to banks on discharged mortgages following a bankruptcy are reported to the major credit reporting agencies.