Senate passes gas leaks compromise, ‘Rights to Publicity’ bill

BOSTON (State House) – The Senate on Thursday unanimously passed a House-Senate compromise to address natural gas leaks and approved a celebrity protection bill.

The Senate voted 38 to 0 in favor of the gas leaks bill (H 4164), which establishes a leak classification system and timelines for repairs. Sen. Ben Downing (D-Pittsfield), the Senate’s chief negotiator on the bill, said the legislation prioritizes the repair of leaks around schools and education facilities, and ensures utility companies put forward a 20-year program to address gas leaks.

According to Rep. John Keenan (D-Salem), the House’s chief negotiator, the state has 5,000 miles of leak-prone pipes. The House passed the compromise on Wednesday in a 142-0 vote.

Separately, through a voice vote, the Senate signed off on a bill (S 2022) protecting celebrity images after they die if they are Massachusetts residents. The bill, pushed by comedian Bill Cosby, was filed by Sen. Stanley Rosenberg (D-Amherst). The bill establishes a “right to publicity” covering the name, likeness, and character of the person if it has commercial value, in order to protect the person’s estate and any heirs for a 70-year period.

Rosenberg said celebrities have “great value” in what they produce, and upon death, it’s possible for people to appropriate it without permission.

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