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Lawmakers move on raising tobacco age, IDs for homeless

Gerald Herbert/Associated Press/File/Associated Press

The Senate moved on several bills Thursday in a last-minute flurry before the holiday week:

Raising the age to buy tobacco

Senators followed their House counterparts in overwhelmingly passing a bill to raise the minimum legal sales age for tobacco products from 18 to 21. It would also bar the sale of vaping products to anyone under 21. The chambers must now reconcile the differences between the two versions. The House bill, for example, would preempt cities and towns from raising the minimum age any higher than 21 in the future.

ID cards for homeless persons

The Senate OK’d a bill that would offer free state identification cards to
homeless people. The legislation would create special standards for the kind of documentation homeless people would need to get IDs, and would waive all fees associated with the process. Acceptable identification would include documents from state service providers, but no permanent address would be required. If approved by the House and the governor, the bill would apply to adults and unaccompanied homeless youth under the age of 24.

Protections for cyclists


New protections for cyclists and pedestrians could be en route via a new bill that passed the state Senate this week. It would require mirrors and sidebars on some government vehicles, red lights on the back of bicycles, and a minimum passing distance from “vulnerable users” such as pedestrians, cyclists, and construction workers on roads with certain speed limits.

Lower speed limits in construction zones

The Senate also passed a bill that would allow the state’s Department of Transportation to set a lower speed limit — and double the fines for speeding — in active construction zones. The bill was originally filed by Governor Charlie Baker, whose administration said that currently it can only suggest, but not require, a lower speed than the posted limit.


Reach Matt Stout at matt.stout@globe.com. Follow him on twitter @mattpstoutJamie Halper can be reached at jamie.halper@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @jamiedhalper.