Gov. signs the Safe Access Bill into law

BOSTON (WWLP) - Conference committees have until 8 p.m. to come up with a compromise on controversial bills. Top state leaders made it clear: safe access to abortion clinics was a priority.

Governor Patrick signed the “Safe Access” bill into law Wednesday. It allows police officers to order protesters to disperse if they are blocking an entrance to an abortion clinic. Those protesters would have to stay 25-feet from the entrance for up to eight hours. If they fail to keep their distance, they can be charged with a misdemeanor.

“We are confident that this law respects the rights of everybody involved; the first amendment rights of protesters and the rights of all people to seek health care here in Massachusetts,” said Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley.

Other high-profile bills are still stuck in conference committees – among them: stronger penalties for domestic violence, stricter gun laws and a job growth bill that would impact western Massachusetts.

State lawmakers can not even decide on whether to have the annual sales tax holiday on the second or third weekend in August.

Senate Majority Leader Stanley Rosenberg told 22News, it is all a part of the legislative process.

“People have different ideas, different motivations. We know there will be a tax holiday if the Governor signs it into law, and we know it’s going to be one of those two weekends.”

The formal legislative session ends at midnight on Thursday.

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