Gun laws, minimum wage among local legislators’ efforts

August 8, 2014
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With the state’s legislative session wrapping up last month, Rep. Jeffrey Sánchez and Sen. Sonia Chang-Díaz are touting their achievements in drafting new laws.

Sánchez focused his efforts on legislation related to domestic violence, gun violence and substance abuse, the environment and economic development.

“I am proud of our work in creating laws which protect rights, improves conditions and creates opportunities for so many people in our Commonwealth,” he said in a release.

The State House passed domestic violence legislation that creates new crimes for domestic assault and strangulation; gives victims 15 days of leave from work to receive counseling or medical attention; and creates a six-hour “cooling off” period during which anyone arrested for domestic violence would be held in custody.

This legislation also delays bail for offenders to provide the victim with time for safety planning and authorizes the revocation of bail in certain cases.

The gun violence legislation allows local authorities to deny issuances of a firearm identification (FID) card and authorizes licensed gun dealers to access criminal offender record information (CORI).

To address any loopholes created by secondary sales, the legislation also requires the Department of Criminal Justice Information Services (DCJIS) to create an online portal for private sales.

It further requires schools to develop plans to address the general mental health needs of students and staff, and requires at least two hours of suicide awareness and prevention training every three years for all licensed school personnel.

The House passed legislation that aims to increase opportunities for long-term substance abuse recovery.

“Substance abuse is a very personal yet public health crisis, and we need to be there for people when they need us,” Sánchez said in a release. “This legislation will increase access and coverage to care for those who are affected by the scourge of addiction.”

The bill removes the need for a patient to have prior authorization for substance abuse treatment if the provider is certified or licensed by the Department of Public Health.

Sánchez also worked to pass an economic development bill that included $10 million for the Brownfields Redevelopment Fund to encourage the development of vacant, blighted or abandoned parcels of land by providing loans and grants for environmental site assessment and cleanup.

“These funds have and continue to be instrumental in various development projects throughout the district to in include Jackson Square in Jamaica Plain and Parcel 25 in Mission Hill. I am happy that the resources will be there when Jackson Commons and Parcel 25 move forward,” he said.

Housing authority reform legislation aimed at making sure the local agencies and those in charge of public housing are properly trained and audited also passed.

A $2.2 billion, four-year environmental borrowing bill for energy, parks and conservation projects also cleared the branches.

Chang-Díaz focused on raising the minimum wage from $8 per hour to $11, the equivalent value it had in 1968.

“The bill also indexes the minimum wage to inflation, to protect it from repeated erosion in future years. I’ve been proud to co-sponsor legislation to accomplish this wage restoration since my first term and am thrilled to see it pass the Senate…with such a resounding vote,” she said in a release.

The state Senate unanimously passed a bill to strengthen reporting requirements for independent expenditure committees and bring a higher level of transparency to elections.

“With this bill, the Senate pushes back: requiring wealthy individuals to step into the light and be accountable for the ads they’re funding. Voters in Massachusetts can also be particularly proud that this was a bipartisan bill—unanimously supported by Democrats and Republicans alike, as well as by good-government groups,” she said.

The Senate also passed legislation authorizing up to $999.2 million in long-term borrowing for the improvement of information technology infrastructure and equipment in Massachusetts, including a $38 million authorization for expanding information technology services and broadband access public schools.

Chang-Díaz also supported bills that allows for early voting, online registration and pre-registration for 16- and 17-year-olds; a two-part anti-bullying law; gun safety legislation that requires owners to report if their guns were stolen or lost when they renew their licenses; and investment in water infrastructure and provides local aid to municipalities facing water access challenges.

State Rep. Jeffrey Sánchez testifies at a House gun hearing on June 3. (Courtesy Photo)

State Rep. Jeffrey Sánchez testifies at a House gun hearing on June 3. (Courtesy Photo)

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