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Legislative Issues

Why weren't we notified about these hearings? Did anyone know about them? Is the legislature holding secret hearings on important legislation? We have to protest this policy. This legislature is as corrupt and unethical as can be. The MA Constitution says, "Article V. All power residing originally in the people, and being derived from them, the several magistrates and officers of government, vested with authority, whether legislative, executive, or judicial, are their substitutes and agents, and are at all times accountable to them.
Article VII. Government is instituted for the common good; for the protection, safety, prosperity and happiness of the people; and not for the profit, honor, or private interest of any one man, family, or class of men: Therefore the people alone have an incontestable, unalienable, and indefeasible right to institute government; and to reform, alter, or totally change the same, when their protection, safety, prosperity and happiness require it.
Article XIX. The people have a right, in an orderly and peaceable manner, to assemble to consult upon the common good; give instructions to their representatives, and to request of the legislative body, by the way of addresses, petitions, or remonstrances, redress of the wrongs done them, and of the grievances they suffer.
Article XXI. The freedom of deliberation, speech and debate, in either house of the legislature, is so essential to the rights of the people, that it cannot be the foundation of any accusation or prosecution, action or complaint, in any other court or place whatsoever.
Article XXII. The legislature ought frequently to assemble for the redress of grievances, for correcting, strengthening and confirming the laws, and for making new laws, as the common good may require."
We have to hold them to their oath of office and not let them usurp the Constitution of the People.
Dominic Tringale

--- "mike.oneil@juno.com" <mike.oneil@JUNO.COM wrote:

From Ned Holstein of Fathers and Families:

The Judiciary Committee of the Massachusetts Legislature held public hearings today on 77 bills. The Fathers & Families Legislative Affairs Committee screened all 77, and identified four that required our testimony. Three of them concern 209A restraining orders, and the fourth concerns changing a child's name.

Here is the gist of our testimony.

SB975, "An Act Relative to Teen Violence" The existing 209A law applies not only to household members, but people who "are or have been in a substantive dating or engagement relationship." SB975 adds language in Section 1 referring only to "a dating relationship," instead of a substantive dating relationship. We opposed this bill because it would make the language of the law internally inconsistent; more important, it would open up the restraining order process to people who had only dated once, even if that occurred a long time ago.

SB1050, "An Act Relative to Abuse Prevention" Suppose a police officer comes to the scene of a domestic disturbance and finds, as is often the case, two people who both appear to have committed a crime, such as screaming threats at each other, throwing things at each other, or attempting to hurt each other. This ill-conceived bill requires the police officer to determine who is the "primary aggressor," and instructs the officer that the "preferred response" is to arrest the "primary aggressor." This kind of language has been enacted in other states, usually at the request of domestic violence advocacy organizations. It is based on the notion that women are rarely or never the primary aggressor, but that even when they break laws such as assault and battery, they are usually acting in self-defense. The ordinary street experience of police officers tells us otherwise.

We opposed this bill because in practice it is a bill that profiles a certain class of people - males - and urges police officers to arrest them, and to simultaneously exonerate another party, usually female, even though she appears to have committed one or more crimes. The bill does not give the police officer any direction on how to identify who the "primary aggressor" is. It essentially requires the police officer to become judge and jury.

SB1071, "An Act Concerning Abuse Prevention" This bill expands the reach of the 209A restraining order law to situations "where one person attempts to engage the other in a substantive dating relationship." What, exactly, does it mean to "attempt to engage?" Giving her your class ring? Calling her up for a date? If you can't define it, don't legislate it. Also, I can see it now: some hapless, freckled thirteen-year-old nervously calls up the girl who has caught his fancy, and she slams him with a restraining order which stays on his record for life!

HB677, "An Act Protecting a Minor's Identity" School nurses found themselves in a bind. Occasionally, parents were coming to them insisting that the child's medical school records be kept under a name different from that on the birth certificate. Under existing law, the nurses have no basis for resisting.

So they went to Representative Karyn Polito of Worcester, and asked for help. Representative Polito authored a bill four years ago that simply required the parent to go to Probate and Family Court to get the name change official. Fathers & Families learned of this, and worked with Representative Polito to protect a divorced father from having the names of his children changed by the custodial parent without his knowledge or consent. The result was a pretty good bill, which was passed by the Massachusetts House in the last session, but was not acted on in the Senate.

Now, Representative Polito has re-filed the bill. Unfortunately, it now suddenly contains a provision by which the custodial parent is not even required to give notice to the non-custodial parent of the intended name change in certain cases of domestic violence. We opposed the bill as written, but will meet with Representative Polito to see how the bill might be amended so we can support it.