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March

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Lawyers Journal

MBA legislation for the 2003-2004 session

The MBA drafts a wide variety of legislation with various sponsors in leadership positions at the State House. The following MBA bills are currently pending before the legislature.

•  An Act Relative To Immunity: This legislation would provide for qualified immunity for health care providers who administer public health vaccinations.

•  An Act Relative To Health Care Records: This legislation would codify a reasonable fee to be charged for copies of medical records provided by health care providers.

•  An Act Clarifying The Effect Of Findings On Motor Vehicle Surcharge Appeals: This legislation would eliminate the preclusive effect of a finding by the Board of Appeals on Motor Vehicle Liability Policies and Bonds on subsequent property damage or personal injury claims.

•  An Act Granting Discretion To The Superior Court To Allocate Certain Settlement Proceeds: This legislation would grant to the Superior Court the power to apportion liens in third party workers compensation actions in response to Rhode v. Beacon Sales.

•  An Act Relative To The Liability Of Certain Non-Profit Corporations: This legislation would raise the present $20,000 charitable immunity cap provided to hospitals to the sum of $500,000.

•  An Act Providing For The Equitable Apportionment of Certain Liens: This legislation would apportion the expense of attorney's fees and costs incurred in personal injury actions among all medical provider lien holders in response to Pierce v. Christmas Tree Shops.

•  An Act Improving The Workers' Compensation System: This legislation would address the inequity caused by a recent decision by the Division of Industrial Accident's which held that an injured worker who returned to work on a part-time basis following an industrial accident, and then was subsequently re-injured, would only receive benefits based on the average weekly wage of the part-time employment. The legislation would also allow for attorney's fees and costs in instances when insurers withdraw motions to discontinue workers benefits.

•  An Act Relative To Impartial Medical Examiners: This legislation would eliminate mandatory impartial examinations in workers compensation cases and allow parties to enter into evidence their own doctor's report and records by removing the current barriers on the introduction of evidence.

•  An Act Relative To Workers Compensation Benefits: This legislation would clarify statutory conflicts regarding attorney's fees in workers compensation cases. The legislation would also allow parties to agree to matters, short of lump summing a case, without the need for litigation. In addition the legislation would provide for a minimum compensation rate for workers.

•  An Act Relative To Injured Workers: This legislation would eliminate in workers compensation cases the utilization review mandate and streamline workers benefits. The legislation would also eliminate the current cap on partial benefits and remove the arbitrary caps on the number of weeks an employee may collect partial benefits.

•  An Act Relative To Contempt Judgments: This legislation would expand the presumption that a party is entitled to attorney's fees to all contempt judgments in the Probate Court.

•  An Act Relative To Judgments Ordering Conveyance Of Real Estate: This legislation would expand the occasions where a Family & Probate Court judgment can be recorded to effectuate a transfer of real estate.

•  An Act Relative To The Rights Of Children Adopted By Unmarried Persons: This legislation would codify the rights of unmarried persons in determining custody, visitation, support and other obligations for adoptive children.

•  An Act Relative To The Uniform Probate Code: This legislation would codify the majority of existing probate law into a uniform probate code for Massachusetts. The legislation is a product of six years of effort by the association to simplify and clarify the probate statutes.
Co-sponsored by BBA
•  An Act Improving To The Spousal Elective Share: This legislation would rewrite the existing statutory law on forced elective share by significantly increasing the size of the elective estate and clarifying procedures necessary to the election of the spousal share.

•  An Act Relative To Zoning Protection of Lawful, Nonconforming Single-Family and Two-Family Residences: This legislation would eliminate the requirement of Board of Appeals approval of straightforward additions or alterations to single or two-family homes on undersized lots on which homes do not conform the dimensional requirements of a local zoning bylaw.

•  An Act To Prohibit The Use of Certain Liability Waivers As Against Public Policy: Under this amendment employers would not be required or permitted to require employees to sign third party waivers, releasing third parties from liability for claims which might be brought as workers compensation claims. Co-sponsored by MATA
•  An Act Relative To Probation Violations: This legislation would allow the court to continue probation with or without extending the conditions of probation, when probation is violated. Currently, when suspensions are revoked, judges impose the entire original sentences.

•  An Act Relative To Divorce Procedure and Judgment of Divorce NISI: This legislation would significantly shorten and streamline the procedural time periods in divorce actions under G.L. c. 208 s. 1A and s. 1B.
Co-sponsored by BBA
•  An Act Reducing Income Taxes on Employee Relocation: This legislation would allow a foreign earned income exclusion or other exemption from state income taxes for individuals who are on temporary assignment abroad. Massachusetts is one of the few states that do not permit this exemption.

•  An Act Relative to Bail Revocation: This legislation would allow the court to hold probation violators on bail. Currently, probation violators are held in custody or await their final surrender hearings on the street. Probation violators could be held without bail for upward of a month awaiting a final surrender hearing.

•  An Act Relative to the Removal Statute: This legislation would provide that a child could only be removed from the state with the consent of both parents or by court order. Also, it would amend the removal statute to apply the statute to divorcing parents; currently it only applies to divorced parents.

•  An Act Relative to the Massachusetts Limited Liability Company Act: This legislation would update the current MLLCA by replacing it with an act based on the Uniform Limited Liability Company Act.

•  An Act Relative to Long Term Care Insurance: This legislation would require long-term care insurers to include at home care and limited "waiting periods" provisions in all long-term care policies.

•  An Act Relative to the Durable Power of Attorney Act: This legislation updates the statute regarding the durable power of attorney.

•  An Act Relative to the Business Corporations Law: This legislation would amend the business corporations law to allow as few as one director regardless of the number of shareholders and to allow written consent by the shareholders holding the number of votes that would be required to vote on the matter at a meeting.

•  An Act Relative to the Limited Partnership Act: This legislation would amend the Massachusetts Limited partnership Act to more closely mirror federal law thus allowing federal estate tax advantages.

•  An Act Establishing a Parent Child Testimonial Privilege: This legislation would establish a parent-child privilege stating that a parent cannot be compelled to testify against an unemanicipated, minor child unless the crime is against a family member or the parent possess exculpatory information.

•  An Act Calling for the Accountability of the Commissioner of Insurance by Converting the Position to an Elected Office: This legislation would require that the Commissioner of Insurance be an elected position that would come up for re-election every four years.

•  An Act to Clarify the Terms of Motor Vehicle Liability Bonds and Policies: (duty to defend bill) This legislation would restore coverage protection for motor vehicle insurance policy holders that was removed in a January 1, 1993, "policy change" by the Commissioner of Insurance, this requiring insurers to continue to defend their insureds even after the policy limits have been paid.

•  An Act Relative to Uninsured Motorist Coverage Benefits: (Alguilla/Pascar bill) This legislation would correct Massachusetts automobile insurance law where there are multiple parties injured in an accident where there is only a single bodily injury policy available to compensate them.

•  An Act Relative to Uninsured Motorist Coverage: (trigger bill) This legislation would remove the so-called "trigger" from underinsured motorist coverage.

•  An Act to Protect Consumers in the Issuance of Automobile Insurance Policies and Bonds: (policy changes bill) This legislation would benefit all purchasers of automobile insurance by providing consumer input into the process by which the Commissioner of Insurance approves changes to the terms and conditions of the automobile insurance policy.

•  An Act Relative to the Antenuptial Statute: This legislation will remove antiquated language requiring a party from doing a recording if they want record notice of an agreement relative to land.

•  An Act Relative to Establishing Paternity: This legislation codifies the SJC decision in Paternity of Cheryl establishing paternity guidelines.

•  An Act Relative to Civil Vacate Orders: This legislation would allow the court to separate parties in a divorce when health or welfare is in issue without having the removed party be subject to criminal penalties.

•  An Act Relative to Cohabitation After Divorce: This legislation would repeal an antiquated statute saying that divorced parties who live together are guilty of adultery.

•  An Act Allowing a Court to Appoint Counsel Before Imposition of a Jail Sentence: This legislation would provide that counsel be provided to indigent persons before the probate and family court in a contempt proceeding before the court imposes a jail sentence.

•  An Act Relative to the Uniform Child-Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act: This legislation creates uniform guidelines for child custody jurisdiction and enforcement.

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