Bills to watch in the Mass. State House

The Boston Globe

As the Legislature wraps up its session Thursday, several major proposals remain on the agenda.

On Wednesday, House and Senate negotiators agreed to compromises on issues including gun control, domestic violence, and a state sales tax holiday next month. Thursday, lawmakers came to terms on a deal to increase substance abuse treatment options.

Those deals will need final approval if they are to reach Governor Deval Patrick’s desk before the session expires.


Here’s a look at some of the key items and where they stand.

This story will be updated as the day goes on.

Gun control

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This measure would enroll Massachusetts in a national database for criminal and mental-health background checks. It also gives police chiefs the ability to ask a judge to deny an application to carry a rifle or shotgun.

Status: Passed by House and Senate

House and Senate negotiators agreed late Wednesday to a compromise measure after wrangling over how much discretion to give law enforcement over firearm identification cards that allow people to carry a rifle or shotgun.

READ MORE: Lawmakers agree on deal to tighten Mass. gun laws

Substance abuse

The proposal would curb the prescription of risky narcotics, expand insurance for treatment and recovery, and require doctors to screen patients for potential drug abuse.

Status: Passed by House and Senate

State lawmakers have reached agreement on a final version of a bill intended to address the opioid addiction crisis. The measure includes controversial coverage requirements for inpatient substance abuse care that health insurers had fought.

READ MORE: Final substance abuse bill keeps inpatient care provision

Domestic violence


The bill creates a first offense domestic violence assault and battery charge, establishes a domestic violence offender registry, and provides education for judges and prosecutors about cycles of abuse.

The bill was motivated in part by the case of Jared Remy, who had a long record of assault cases before he killed his girlfriend last August. It would also seal arrest reports and police reports for people who like Remy are accused of domestic violence.

Status: Pending

On Wednesday, a conference committee of House and Senate members agreed on a version of the bill.

READ MORE: Deal reached on domestic violence measure

READ MORE: Bill would seal police reports in domestic violence cases

Sales tax holiday

The Legislature annually sets aside a few days during which consumers are exempt from the state sales tax. This year, lawmakers struggled to agree on when to schedule the holiday.

Status: Passed by House and Senate

Representatives from the House and Senate decided last night to set the reprieve for the third weekend in August. Senators had wanted to offer the reprieve Aug. 9-10.

Abortion protests


The bill gives police more authority to disperse protesters who have substantially impeded access to a clinic. It then allows law enforcement to require protesters to remain 25 feet away from the driveway or entrance of the facility for eight hours or until the clinic closes for the day.

Status: Signed into law

READ MORE: Patrick signs law replacing buffer zone provision