Massachusetts Senator, Mike Moore, was the speaker at the October 16th club meeting. As did Rep. Hannah Kane several weeks ago, Sen. Moore noted that the Massachusetts legislature is made up of 160 Representatives and 40 Senators. The legislative session is a 2-year cycle.
Sen. Moore noted that from 5-6,000 bills are filed each year and, ultimately, 3-400 are passed in a 2 year cycle. It is when bills get to a committee that issues arise. One example that he noted is legislation that reacts to the fact that Massachusetts lags in offering college credit for high school students taking college level courses. Not all state institutions accept credits from high school study, and the bill would force them to accept it. This issue bogs down in discussion of issues of reciprocity with other states and questions of whether one college/university's credit is equal to all others.
An issue that the senator discussed was a "Safe Community Act" which essentially proposes that Massachusetts be a "sanctuary state." There are questions of whether state law enforcement has authority to detain persons based on INS detainer requests. Courts have said that they do not, unless the person has violated certain specific acts. The Baker Administration has offered a bill to authorize detaining; the legal community says that that bill will not work.
Sen. Moore discussed a land zoning bill introduced in the last session and passed by the senate. The bill is intended to address overdevelopment and access to affordable housing by standardizing land zoning across the state. Sen. Moore has voted against this bill. He noted, however, that there are both positives and negatives to the bill. One positive would be the simplifying of actions brought before local planning boards and would give property owners greater discretion over the use and/or sale of their land.
Also discussed was the issue of sexual assault on college campuses. A pending bill would provide for representation for both victims and alleged perpetrators. Schools would also be required to file more data on allegations that take place on their campuses. Finally the senator noted that there is legislation pending to take action against bump stocks and other devices that effectively turn weapons into automatic weapons.