Welcome to the 2017-2018 Legislative Session
Updates at the enf of the legislative cycle 7/31/2018:
The Automatic Voter Registration bill passed the legislature at the end of the legislative cycle (July 31st). The Governor signed the bill late last week. AVR does not go into effect until 2020. Between now and then, we are expecting the Secretary of State's office to invest in a new program for the VRIS. That will be critical to AVR with the RMV and MassHealth as the Automatic Voter Registration Agencies (the SOC can include others at a later date) being able to interface with the SOC and us through the VRIS. Also, same day registration will become possible down the road as there is much interest in this outside the clerk world and is being pushed heavily by some special interest groups. It is also critical for us as the current system is being held together by scotch tape and bandages.
As the formal legislative session concluded on July 31st, Tom Joyce was closely watching the action for us. Typically there is a lot of action at the end of the session and we are making calls to our legislators to push our agenda. This time very little of substance (for us) happened. According to Tom only very large scale bills were taken up by the legislature. There was no action on early voting for the primary, so that appears to be dead but we will have it for the November election.
Unfortunately the polling places and restricted records bills which had made it through third reading did not get any further action. These will be part of our legislative agenda for the next session. In addition to those bills, we have four other initiatives for our agenda. There will be a bill to change Unenrolled to Unaffiliated; a bill to allow unenrolled voters to be registrars if democrats or republicans do not fill an open seat; a bill to limit voter registration sessions to normal business hours; and a bill to set a date certain for the September primary. Most of these have been filed in the past but continue to be of interest to many of our members. The association also voted to approve these initiatives as our legislative platform for the next session. The Legislative Committee will be working with Tom to get sponsors for these bills and get them filed in January when the next session begins.
The legislative committee will be meeting on Thursday of the Springfield Conference, time and location of the meeting to be determined. I will keep you updated.
MTCA Legislative Committee Chair
The Massachusetts Legislature runs in a two year cycle by calendar year, with each new cycle beginning in the January after the biennial state election.
View all bills filed in the current legislative session: https://malegislature.gov/Bills
The Legislative Committee put forth the following bills to the legislature for consideration:
1. Restricted Record Bill
2. Polling Place Bill
3. Elimination of Extended Hours Bill
4. Newspaper Posting Requirements
Current Bills being monitored:
1. Automatic Voter Registration (HB 2091 and S 373)
2. State Primary Update / Early Voting Addition
3. Same Day Registration
Ideas under consideration for the 2019-2020 legislative cycle*:
*Per MTCA Bylaws, the Legislative Committee must bring forth their legislative agenda for the following cycle at the MTCA Annual Meeting (June) prior to the cycle.
Is there a topic you feel the Legislative Committee should take initiative on, or should watch closely, please let us know!