The Legislature wrapped up its formal session on
Although, they will continue to meet for the rest of the year, it
will be on an informal basis. However, in informal legislative
sittings, just one objection by a legislator can derail a
At the time Lawyers Journal went to press, there was
action on a number of issues of great interest to the bench and
Habitual Offender Bill
Late last month, the Legislature enacted the so-called habitual
offender bill. Along with addressing repeat offenders, it calls for
a reduction in school zone drug offenses from 1,000 to 300 feet,
which the Massachusetts Bar Association supports. It also alters
mandatory minimum sentences for certain non-violent drug offenses
by raising the amount of drugs necessary to trigger a mandatory
minimum sentence. Several key legislators have indicated their
desire to revisit mandatory minimum sentences in the new
legislative session beginning in January 2013, including House
Judiciary Chairman and Conference Committee Co-Chair Rep. Gene
O'Flaherty (D-Chelsea), Rep. David Linsky (D-Natick) and Rep. Brad
Hill (R-Ipswich), as well as Gov. Deval L. Patrick.
The habitual offender piece of the bill covers over three dozen
crimes. Felons sentenced for at least three years for one of the
enumerated crimes would trigger the three strikes provisions. For
felons serving two life sentences or for felons who get a third
strike, parole eligibility will be eliminated.
The MBA, while not having a position on the habitual offender
portion of the legislation, is a long term opponent of mandatory
At press, the bill was awaiting final action by Patrick.
The conference committee charged with brokering a compromise on
foreclosure legislation finished its work as Lawyers
Journal went to press. The final bill seeks to prevent
unnecessary foreclosures. This bill focuses on loan modifications
and does not contain the Senate-backed mandatory mediation between
banks and homeowners. The MBA will urge the Legislature to revisit
the mediation proposal during the next legislative session.
Work Place Safety
A bill strongly supported by the MBA, referred to as the
"Temporary Workers Right to Know Bill," had passed the House at
press time and was being considered by the Senate. The bill
protects temporary workers by requiring employers to provide them
with written notice of key details of their work assignments and
the legal protections available to them.