Senators Take Action on Bills to Protect Public
Nov 27, 2015 02:43PM
● By Pamela Johnson
Includes Support for Veterans and Expanded Solar ProjectsThe MA State Senate took action on a wide-ranging set of bills which honors the valor and contributions of our veterans, establishes penalties for fentanyl drug trafficking, adds privacy protections for social media users, and enhances student physical education.
The meeting, which represents the final formal Senate session until January, also included debate on legislation that would expand solar energy projects in the public and private sectors. Senators took action to increase the metering cap which allows electric users to capture credits and lower utility bills. More than 12,000 people are employed in the industry in Massachusetts.
“I am proud to be a part of moving legislation forward to honor our veterans, punish drug traffickers, protect the privacy rights of social media users, and expand solar energy in our state,” said State Senator Ryan C. Fattman (R-Sutton). “These issues are important to my district and the constituents I represent, many of which I have heard from on these issues.”
The Senate also backed a bill which updates the state’s drug trafficking laws to include a penalty for trafficking fentanyl. Although fentanyl is significantly more potent than drugs such as heroin or morphine, under existing law, traffickers can only be charged with the lesser crimes of dispensing. Under the new law, convictions for trafficking could result in up to 20 years in state prison.
Members of the Senate unanimously adopted an amendment offered by Senator Tarr to a bill requiring school districts that offer sexual health education to also include information designed to raise awareness of child exploitation and signs of abuse. Senators also supported a change to the bill authored by Tarr which secures at least 30 days for parents and guardians to review the curriculum before it is offered.
Other bills that were approved by the Senate in the session include:
S.757 – An act regulating notaries public to protect consumers sets the terms, qualifications, and requirement for notaries and prohibits a notary, who is not an attorney, from; advising clients with regards to immigration issues, real estate closings, or providing legal advice. The bill creates fines for initial and subsequent violations of law up to $5,000 and up to one year in jail.
S.2054 – An act relative to social media privacy protection prohibits employers, or schools from requiring a person to disclose a user name or password for personal social media accounts.
S.2048 – An act relative to healthy youth requires school districts that offer sexual health education to provide content that is medically accurate and age appropriate. Mandates that all schools must adopt a written policy ensuring notification to parents and guarantees an opt out mechanism for them to withdraw a child from the program without penalty.
S.2047 – An act to promote quality physical education which includes age appropriate physical activity, fitness and nutrition. The bill updates the requirements that physical education be taught in all public schools including charters.
H.1641, The Stolen Valor Act criminalizes the practice of falsely representing oneself as military personnel, a veteran or a recipient of specific military honors in order to receive money, property or a tangible benefit. This crime would be punishable by a fine of $1,000 and imprisonment of not more than one year.
H.3243, An Act providing free park access to Purple Heart recipients waives entrance or parking fees at state parks, forests, and reservations for recipients of the Purple Heart. Under current law, only disabled veterans or handicapped persons whose vehicles bear distinctive license plates are allowed free access to these public spaces.
The Senate will continue to hold frequent informal sessions through the end of the year to advance bills that do not require debate or roll call votes.