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WBA Legislative Achievements



Parental Leave: an Act Relative to Parental Leave making it explicit that parental leave benefits apply to men as well as women was signed into law in 1/15 as Chapter 484 of the Acts of 2014.


Domestic Violence:  An Act Relative to Domestic Violence, signed into law in 8/14 as Chapter 260 of the Acts of 2014 establishes new criminal offenses related to domestic violence including provisions dealing with strangulation, creates new legal protections for victims, prohibits the use of accord and satisfaction in domestic violence cases, corrects flaws in MGL ch. 265 § 13M and adds workplace protections to victims of domestic violence, requiring employers with 50 or more employees to provide up to 15 days of leave per year for a victimized employee to take time to deal with court, housing, health or other issues related to the abuse.  


Reproductive Rights: An Act to Promote Public Safety and Protect Access to Reproductive Health Care Facilities, which was signed into law 7/14, was filed in response to the McCullen v. Coakley decision by the United States Supreme Court, which struck down portions of the Massachusetts buffer zone statute, G.L. c. 266, §120E1/2, that established a 35-foot fixed buffer zone around driveways and entrances of reproductive health care facilities.  This law balances public safety and access with free speech concerns and prohibits certain conduct outside reproductive health care facilities that threatens access and public safety.


Employment: An Act to Establish Domestic Workers Bill of Rights was signed into law 6/14 as Chapter 148 of the Acts of 2014  


Women in Prison: An Act Relative to Safe Pregnancies and Related Health Care for Female Inmates (in State Prisons, County Houses of Correction and Jails) which prohibits shackling during delivery and requires pre- and post-natal services signed by Governor 5/14 as Chapter 103 of the Acts of 2014.


Domestic Violence/Housing: An Act Relative to Housing Rights of Victims of Domestic Violence, Rape, Sexual Assault and Stalking was signed by Governor 1/13.  It amends the existing housing discrimination laws to prohibit discrimination against victims of domestic violence, rape, sexual assault and stalking (while also preserving the rights of property owners), to create a defense to eviction if the landlord attempts to evict a tenant because he/she was the victim of one of these crimes and a vehicle for victims, with appropriate documentation, to vacate their lease or rental agreements without penalty.


Domestic Violence: The Governor signed a law in 7/12 which included language that allows domesticated animals to be included in abuse protection orders.  There is a well documented correlation between animal abuse and domestic violence.  Studies showed that up to 48% of people in a violent relationship will not leave, or will return to, the relationship due to a fear for the animal’s safety.


Midwifery: An Act Relative to Enhancing the Practice of Nurse Midwives, was signed into law by the Governor on February 2, 2012 as Chapter 24 of the Acts of 2012.  The law increases the autonomy of certified nurse-midwives, and among other provisions authorizes certified nurse-midwives to issue written prescriptions and order and interpret tests and therapeutics.


Transgender Civil Rights: The law to add “gender identity or expression” to hate crimes and employment, housing, credit and education non-discrimination laws, joining 15 other states in recognizing transgender people as a protected class, was signed by Governor 11/23/11.


Human Trafficking: The WBA supported anti-human trafficking legislation, which was signed by the Governor on 11/21/2011.  This law makes human trafficking a crime in Massachusetts.  The law makes patronizing a human trafficking victim a crime and creates higher penalties for victims who are minors.  This law also allows forfeited assets and fines related to human trafficking to be distributed to victims. It further creates an inter-agency task force to study human trafficking in the Commonwealth.  


Alimony: The WBA worked to update/reform Mass. alimony law which benefits all parties to alimony arrangements by creating different categories of alimony with set limitations.  The law also provides an important safeguard for families that do not fit squarely within the guidelines by including discretion for courts to address their needs in alimony orders.  Signed by Governor 9/11


Guardianship Reform: Because of concern for children and families and about exploitation of dependent elders and other incapacitated persons, the WBA supported the guardianship reforms provisions contained in Article V of the Mass. Uniform Probate Code.  Signed into law 1/09; Article V to take effect 7/1/09.


Nursing Mothers: An Act to Promote Breastfeeding gives women the right to breastfeed in a public place and makes it clear that a woman nursing her child in public is not engaged in lewd or lascivious behavior or indecent exposure under MGL c. 272 §§16 and 53.  Signed into law 1/9/09


Equal Rights Amendment: An Act Relative to Equitable Coverage in Annuity Policies ended annuity pricing and practices which violate our state ERA, prohibiting discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, marital status or national origin. Signed by Gov. Patrick in 2008.


Civil Rights: The WBA supports full implementation of the Goodridge decision on same sex marriage. One barrier, the 1913 anti-miscegenation law, was repealed and signed into law 7/31/08


Reproductive Rights: An Act to Provide Timely Access to Emergency Contraceptive by requiring appropriate health care for rape survivors and allowing pharmacists to provide emergency contraception directly to women. Signed into law in 2005.


An Act Providing Equitable Coverage Under Health Plans –to require contraceptive and hormone replacement therapy coverage under insurance plans regulated by the state.  Signed into law in 2/02.

The WBA supported legislation which ended the discrimination suffered by, and lifted the ban on abortion coverage for, public employees and their families.


(The WBA's legislative policies do not necessarily reflect the views of our sponsors.)