BOSTON (WWLP) – The anti-upskirting law was crafted and passed within 24 hours. 22 News spoke with western Massachusetts lawmakers about why it takes some bills years to become law.
In Massachusetts, anyone can propose a bill through their state senator or representative. It is called “Right of Free Petition” and it is unique to the state, but it also means that thousands of bills are filed every two-year session.
“We have eight to twelve thousand bills a year. Most legislatures basically have a few thousand at most so there’s no way they can all be debated, not on the floor,” said Sen. Majority Leader Stan Rosenberg, D-Amherst.
So not only do we have a very complicated legislative process, there are thousands of bills to go through. The anti-upskirting law was passed so quickly mainly because the House and the Senate unanimously agreed that the law at the time had to be revised.
Holyoke State Representative Aaron Vega said, “When both the House and the Senate agree on something, when both the Speaker and Senate President agree on something, things can move quite quickly and this was one of those things that for many people it was a no brainer.”
But that is rarely the case. With every bill, there is almost always conflict. Laws that would benefit those in Boston may not necessarily benefit those in western parts of the state. That is when bills can take several months and sometimes YEARS to pass into law.
“It’s so much easier to slow things down on Beacon Hill than it is to move it up, very frustrating. It often takes a good piece of legislation years to pass and I don’t blame people for being upset about it. I would be too; I am,” said Sen. Don Humason, D-Westfield.
Bills can take years to pass because there is no rule against refiling a bill if it is rejected. Anyone in Massachusetts can continuously file a bill year after year.