The Registry bill was filed by our dedicated sponsors, Senator Michael Moore and Representative Linda Dean Campbell, and made excellent progress in the 190th legislative session. It passed through the Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities and it passed unanimously through the Senate Ways and Means Committee. As the bill came to house consideration, some parties raised concerns about due process for those accused. Negotiations resulted in a revised bill filed as H101 for the 191st legislative session (2019-2020). The Registry will be overseen by the Disabled Persons Protection Commission (DPPC).
The bill was allotted over 2 hours at an April hearing in front of the Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities (Chaired by Rep. Kay Khan and Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz). Testimony was provided by dozens of individuals, organizations and our bill sponsors and other legislators. Some members of the committee and Senator Chang-Diaz had some feedback that would strengthen the bill. Agencies involved were consulted and the DPPC had some final comments as well. It took several weeks for language changes to be made. Our colleagues at the Disability Law Center (DLC) led re-drafting for The Arc and advocates.
Status as of August 2019:
A meeting is being held (presently scheduled for late August) to confirm the changes with all parties, held by House Chair Kay Khan. Once the language is finalized, we expect the bill to move swiftly through to Ways and Means and to the Speaker of the House and the Senate President.
A Few of the Key Issues:
- Through testimony, families indicated feeling “in the dark” when it came to the investigation process regarding substantiating the abuse. Language was added to allow communication to families about the status of the investigation. This did involve some back and forth with CPCS, as their concerns are around privacy.
- The Senate Chair noted that there was no process in place to communicate when the individual was not found to have committed registrable abuse. Language was added to include a communication process.
- Finally, also related to the investigatory process, determining registrable abuse can be done by looking at the act and/or the individual’s likelihood to abuse again. The Arc and the DLC only want the act to be considered. If an act caused serious physical, emotional or sexual harm, then there is no need to determine whether the individual would abuse again. The act is enough to place the individual on the registry.
When the bill details are finalized, we will need our community to continue to speak out, write and visit (many are in district this month) with their legislators. We are confident that the bill will move forward but we must ensure that the legislators match the passion of our community with their commitment to pass this bill. Stay tuned to The Arc. When the bill moves to Ways and Means and leadership, we will need your continued advocacy. Please reach out with any questions.
Contacts for Follow Up:
At The Arc of Massachusetts:
Senator Michael O. Moore
State House, Room 109-B
(617) 722-1485 x1482
Matthew C. Ritter
Representative Linda Dean Campbell
State House, Room 238
Please see attached link for a fuller history of the bill.