The end of the legislative session is a time when bills that are not controversial can still make it across the finish line. There were five bills that I was particularly pleased to help over the finish line in the waning days of the session. Governor Patrick signed all of these bills, so they are now law.
- Chapter 431. AN ACT ESTABLISHING A TASK FORCE TO PROTECT MASSACHUSETTS CHILDREN AGAINST CHILD ABUSE. See H4305. Signed 12/20/15. This act furthers the goals of our legislation repealing the statute of limitation on child sexual abuse — it creates a task force to make recommendations to youth serving organizations to better prevent abuse.
- Chapter 445. AN ACT RELATIVE TO THE TREATMENT OF THE MENTALLY ILL IN PRISON . See H4545. Signed 1/5/15. This bill provides that people with mental illness cannot be put in isolation without services. This is a bill that Representative Balzer has long pushed and I was pleased to help her make the bill happen on the senate side.
- Chapter 449. AN ACT ESTABLISHING 6-YEAR CAREER PLANS FOR ALL MASSACHUSETTS PUBLIC SCHOOL STUDENTS. See H4527. Signed 1/6/15. This bill fixed an annoying glitch in our child protection laws which forced certain special education teachers to get fingerprinted multiple times — lots of constituents were in touch with me and other legislators on this issue. It was part of a larger package that I was not involved with.
- Chapter 451 AN ACT TO IMPROVE CRIMINAL LAWS RELATIVE TO ORGANIZED RETAIL THEFT: See H1474. Signed 1/6/2015. This bill increases penalties for organized high-volume shoplifting. It also includes language from a bill that I’ve been working on for a few years to end overreaching by retailers who catch kids stealing low value items. There were a group of law firms that were sending parents demand letters for hundreds of dollars, effectively extorting exorbitant fees from parents, often low-income parents. This bill responded to concerns brought to me by parents in Belmont, but is actually a nationwide problem. We got this done in July, but asked the Governor to send it back so we could fix a couple of typos.
- Chapter 485. AN ACT RELATIVE TO LOCAL COMMISSIONS ON DISABILITY. See S1985. Signed 1/8/15. Provides for remote participation in meetings by disability Commission members — this responds to concern from a constituent with a disability who had difficulty participating in disability meetings.