Year in review 2017: Massachusetts passes laws on marijuana, gun control, women’s rights

Boston Statehouse

BOSTON (WWLP)-Lawmakers file hundreds of bills each session, but many of them never reach the Governor’s desk. The ones that did in 2017 brought changes to Massachusetts’ recreational marijuana ballot law as well as more protections for pregnant women on the job.

Lawmakers passed a rewritten version of the ballot law legalizing recreational marijuana for adults in Massachusetts. The revision nearly doubled how much customers will be taxed for purchasing pot, creating a 20 percent total tax rather than the maximum 12 percent rate voters approved.

“The rate that was set by the ballot question wasn’t enough to implement the regulatory structure that would be required for a brand new industry such as marijuana. we can always revisit this if something’s not working,” State Rep. Michael Finn (D-West Springfield) said.

The year brought on two new laws supporting Massachusetts women: one is a piece of legislation that guarantees access to free contraception. The other law prohibits companies from taking adverse action against an employee because of their pregnancy; it’s known as the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act. The law prohibits employers from denying pregnant workers “reasonable accommodations,” such as more frequent paid or unpaid breaks and time off as well as assistance with manual labor.

“It’s a common sense piece of legislation. Certain accommodations should be made and I think employers understand that as well,” State Senator Jim Welch (D-West Springfield) said.

In 2017, Massachusetts also became the first state in the nation to adopt a ban on bump stocks following a deadly mass shooting at a Las Vegas music concert.

Lawmakers are expected to resume formal sessions this month.

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