GOV. CHARLIE BAKER on Tuesday signed six bills with statewide implications, including a bill to provide more rights and resources to students involved in cases of sexual misconduct on campus and a long-sought after deal between craft brewers and their distributors.
The flurry of action came on myriad bills that landed on the governor’s desk in the final days of the legislative session, which included a marathon all-night session January 5.
The sexual assault bill was pushed for by survivors of sexual assault on campus, and aims to provide more resources to victims while setting out clear standards for how cases will be dealt with.
The new law will require campuses to provide free access to sexual assault crisis services and to have a confidential “resource provider” to help victims connect with services and explore their options for reporting the incident. It requires colleges to publicly post sexual misconduct policies; develop memorandums of understanding with local police departments; conduct regular surveys on campus sexual misconduct; train students and staff on sexual assault prevention; and create a mechanism for anonymous incident reporting.
The beer bill resolves a years-long dispute over when a brewer can sever ties with their distributor.
Baker also signed a bill that would require sewage systems that discharge pollutants into a public body of water to notify the public within two hours, with regular notifications until the discharge ends. These discharges often occur during heavy storms in communities whose wastewater and storm water drainage systems are combined, and they can cause diseases. It is a particular problem for communities along the Merrimack River.
Baker signed two bills modernizing the laws governing credit unions.
He signed another bill giving an indigent, long-time guardian of a minor child the right to a court-appointed attorney in a proceeding where the guardian is at risk of losing their guardianship.
Baker on Monday signed a bill creating a commission to recommend changes to the state seal and state motto, which Native American communities have called racist. The seal shows a hand holding a sword over the head of a Native American man with the motto, “By the sword we seek peace.”
Still on the governor’s desk are three major bills with multiple components.
A climate change bill would lay out specific methods by which the state would achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050. Read more here.
An economic development bill would authorize the spending of $627 million on economic development projects, including various funds to aid the state’s recovery from COVID-19. It also includes several policy items, such as zoning reform, a cap on the fees food delivery services can charge restaurants, and a state licensing scheme for student loan servicers.
A transportation bond bill would authorize $16.5 billion in spending on transportation projects. It would hike fees on ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft. Read more about the economic development and transportation bills here.