Transportation officials review new driving, license laws for MA residents


Legislators heard a variety of bills today that aim to crack down on distracted driving while increasing gender inclusion in the Massachusetts transportation system.

Members of the Joint Committee on Transportation gathered Thursday to hear testimony on Governor Baker’s public safety proposal.  

Senate Bill 7 would strictly enforce seatbelt laws, making an unfastened seatbelt a primary offense for which a driver could be pulled over.

It would also crack down on distracted driving.

The hands-free aspect of the Governor’s bill sparked debate among transportation officials who are worried about an increase in racial profiling. 

Transportation committee members also heard from Northampton state Senator Jo Comerford who filed a bill to expand the number of gender options on a Massachusetts drivers license. 

Under Senate Bill 22-55, individuals could mark their gender as “X,” instead of limiting them to just Male or Female on a license or state issued ID. 

“Many of us, many of our neighbors, family, friends want another option, want an X so that they can self determine,” Senator Comerford said. 

Senate President Karen Spilka spoke in support SB 22-55 and brought a constituent who contacted her for help regarding the non-binary gender option. 

“For the time being, I don’t know whether I would choose M or F, I would want to refrain from that choice, I don’t think the state should be making me choose between two options that don’t represent myself,” El said. 

Lawmakers said they support road safety measures, but they also want to allow people to be who they truly are. 

The committee didn’t vote on any of the bills on Thursday, but lawmakers said they are optimistic that their efforts will receive bipartisan support this session.

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