Lawyers e-Journal

Thursday, Nov. 17, 2011
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Legislative News

MBA applauds House and Senate passage of groundbreaking transgender rights bill; Habitual offender legislation heads to conference committee

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MBA applauds House and Senate passage of groundbreaking transgender rights bill

The Massachusetts Bar Association applauds the Senate for its Nov. 16 action in joining the House in passage of a bill that would make transgender persons a protected class under the state's existing anti-discrimination laws, ensuring they cannot be discriminated against in the areas of employment, housing, credit and education. The legislation now heads to the desk of Gov. Deval Patrick, who has indicated he supports the bill and will sign it into law.

"This law is necessary because it makes those protections explicit, uniform and visible -- to businesses, schools, landlords and the general public," MBA President Richard P. Campbell said. "Importantly, the legislation protects transgender individuals, and moreover anyone who does not fit gender stereotypes."

The MBA's governing body, the House of Delegates, voted unanimously in 2007 to support the bill, "An Act Relative to Transgender Equal Rights."

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Habitual offender legislation heads to conference committee

On. Nov. 16, the House of Representatives enacted legislation that would eliminate parole eligibility for third-time violent offenders. While both bills contain provisions on repeat violent felons, the Senate version would also amend mandatory minimum sentences for non-violent drug offenders and reduce school zones, while the House version would not.

The two sentencing bills will now head to a conference committee. The conference committee will then hash out a compromise. Senate President Therese Murray has indicated that she intends to appoint Senators Cynthia Creem (D-Newton), Steven Baddour (D-Methuen) and Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester) to the conference committee.  House conferees have not yet been named.

The Massachusetts Bar Association is a long time opponent of mandatory minimum sentences and will continue to advocate for their elimination. So far during the administration of Gov. Deval Patrick, the MBA has successfully sought changes to our harsh sentencing laws.

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