WBA Legislative Achievements
RECENT LEGISLATIVE ACHIEVEMENTS
Alimony: The WBA worked to update/reform Mass. alimony law by creating different categories of alimony with set limitations. The law also permits courts to exhibit discretion in alimony orders when addressing a family’s needs (Signed into law September 2011).
Domestic Violence: An Act Relative to Domestic Violence establishes new criminal offenses related to domestic violence, 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 (signed into law in August 2014 as Chapter 260 of the Acts of 2014).
An Act Relative to Housing Rights of Victims of Domestic Violence, Rape, Sexual Assault and Stalking prevents housing laws from discriminating against victims of domestic violence, rape, sexual assault and stalking. The bill allows victims to defend themselves against discriminatory eviction, and allows victims to vacate their rental agreements without penalty (signed January 2013).
Section 49, Chapter 209A of the General Laws allows domesticated animals to be included in abuse protection orders. Studies show 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 (National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges) (signed July 2012).
Employment: An Act to Establish Domestic Workers Bill of Rights requires employers to provide domestic workers with provisions for maternity leave, and requires employers to provide their employees with written contracts and notice of termination (signed into law June 2014 as Chapter 148 of the Acts of 2014).
Human Trafficking: An Act Relative to the Commercial Exploitation of People made human trafficking a crime in Massachusetts. The law makes participating in commercial sexual activity with a human trafficking victim a crime and includes higher penalties for engaging with underage victims. This law also allows forfeited assets and fines related to human trafficking to be distributed to victims. It further created an inter-agency task force to study human trafficking in the Commonwealth (signed November 2011).
Midwifery: An Act Relative to Enhancing the Practice of Nurse Midwives increases the autonomy of certified nurse-midwives, authorizes certified nurse-midwives to issue written prescriptions and order/interpret tests and therapeutics (signed February 2012 as Chapter 24 of the Acts of 2012).
Parental Leave: An Act Relative to Parental Leave made it explicit that parental leave benefits apply to men as well as women (signed into law in January 2015 as Chapter 484 of the Acts of 2014).
Reproductive Rights: An Act to Promote Public Safety and Protect Access to Reproductive Health Care Facilities established a 35-foot fixed buffer zone around driveways and entrances of reproductive health care facilities. The bill was filed in response to McCullen v. Coakley, which struck down portions of the Massachusetts buffer zone statute, G.L. c. 266, §120E1/2 (signed into law July 2014).
Transgender Civil Rights: Language regarding “gender identity or expression” was added to laws regarding hate crimes, employment, housing, credit and education discrimination. This recognizes transgender people as a protected class in Mass. (signed November 2011).
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) prohibits shackling during delivery and requires pre- and post-natal healthcare services (signed into law May 2014 as Chapter 103 of the Acts of 2014).
(The WBA's legislative policies do not necessarily reflect the views of our sponsors.)