BOSTON- Senators from the Cambridge delegation recently joined their colleagues in the Massachusetts Senate to pass legislation covering veterans, public education and social media privacy. These votes came during the last formal legislative session for the legislature until January.
>“I was proud to stand with my colleagues in the Senate in passing multiple pieces of legislation that honor and support our veterans, punish drug traffickers, protect social media privacy for students and workers, as well as promote solar growth in the Commonwealth,” said Senator Sal DiDomenico. “I would also like to thank my colleagues for their support of my Healthy Youth Bill, which will help to ensure that Massachusetts students receive the comprehensive health information they need to make healthy life choices. I look forward to continue advocating for the passage of this bill in the House.”
“The Senate passed several important pieces of legislation that will positively impact the lives of veterans, students, and employees among others,” said Senator Pat Jehlen. “I look forward to the New Year when the Senate will be back in session and can continue working on issues that matter very much to our constituents.”
The veterans’ legislation passed by the Senate covers numerous areas of protecting and providing benefits to our veterans:
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.
Several other bills passed by the Senate impose additional fines and penalties for the destruction of veterans’ gravesites, including for the destruction or removal of gravestones and gravemarkers and the removal or destruction of veteran, police, and firefighter commemorative flag holders and flags.
In addition to the veterans bills the Senate also passed an updated amendment of the solar net metering legislation that would increase the cap on residential and commercial projects. Notably, the amendment seeks to ensure the future growth of community shared solar and virtual metering while grandfathering in existing projects. Promoting continued solar growth is essential to help the Commonwealth reach the goals for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions established in the Global Warming Solutions Act.
Other legislation passed by the Senate includes:
S. 2013, An Act Relative to Healthy Youth, requires each school district, public school and charter school that offers sexual health education to provide medically accurate, age-appropriate education. The bill also requires schools that offer sexual health education to adopt a written policy ensuring notification to the parent or legal guardian and the right of the parent or guardian to withdraw a child from the education program.
S.2034, An Act Relative to Social Media Privacy Protection, prohibits any public or private institution providing elementary, secondary or higher education from requiring a student or applicant to disclose a user name, password or other means of access to a personal social media account or service. The bill also prohibits any employer from requiring an employee or applicant to disclose a user name, password or other means of access to a personal social media account or service. In addition, the legislation prohibits any employer from requiring an employee or applicant, as a condition of employment or consideration for employment, to include any employer or employer’s agent on a list of contacts associated with a social media account or service.
S. 1976 An Act to Promote Quality Physical Education, updates the current statutory requirement that physical education be taught in all public schools to include charter schools. The bill re-defines physical education to include physical activity, fitness, nutrition and wellness and requires physical education to be age appropriate and evidence-based
H. 3798, An Act Relative to the Trafficking of Fentanyl, this bill would penalize, with up to 20 years in prison, anyone who traffics in fentanyl, a dangerously strong narcotic often mixed with heroin. In addition any derivative of fentanyl, and knowingly or intentionally manufacturing, distributing, dispensing, or possessing with intent to manufacture, distribute, and dispense within the Commonwealth is subject to the same penalties. The bill now goes to the Governor for his signature.