Legislative update

Thursday, Jun. 19, 2014
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The legislative session draws to a close next month, therefore the Legislature remains busy in the last days of the session. Yesterday, the House of Representatives took up several bills of interest to the Massachusetts Bar Association.

Juvenile parole
The House passed legislation, by a vote of 127 to 16, providing for the opportunity for parole for juveniles convicted of first degree murder after serving 20 to 25 years. Juveniles convicted in cases deemed to be pre-meditated, committed with malice or extremely cruel would be eligible for parole after serving 25 to 30 years. This bill also has a look-back provision. The MBA, at its May House of Delegates meeting, adopted a set of parole principles for juveniles convicted of murder. The principles oppose legislatively mandated parole eligibility dates and urge courts be empowered to set a parole eligibility date in each case based on an individual assessment of the factors regarding the offender and the offense. The bill now heads to the Senate.

Burial benefits in workers' compensation deaths
The House passed conference committee legislation to increase the minimum wage in Massachusetts. Included in that bill, was an MBA-backed proposal to increase burial benefits for workers' compensation deaths from $4,000 to eight times the average weekly wage under the Workers' Compensation Statute. The conference committee report now awaits action by the Senate, which could happen as early as today.

Domestic Workers' Bill of Rights
The House passed MBA-backed legislation creating a Domestic Workers' Bill of Rights that would establish labor standards and protect the basic rights of domestic workers. This bill was already passed in the Senate and will now head to Gov. Deval L. Patrick for his review.