"Beacon Hill will likely be a busy place in 2017.
Local lawmakers have identified a range of priorities for the new year, including criminal justice reform, budgeting and continuing to support the communities they serve.
Here's a look at some priorities for several local incumbent lawmakers:
State Sen. Richard Ross, R-Wrentham:
- Marijuana law: Ross says the new recreational marijuana law needs to be improved. "It is imperative that we do it the right way, and address the serious public health and safety issues that were not properly outlined in the ballot language," he said in a statement.
- Patent trolls: These are people or companies that falsely allege patent infringement and seek payment from victims. Ross plans to pursue legislation to stop patent trolling, which "has had an extremely detrimental effect on many businesses in my district and across the commonwealth," he said.
- Ross said he also plans to focus on district priorities "such as local aid, education funding, public safety, and economic development, while striving to maintain a cost effective and transparent government."
- Teen sexting: Roy plans to again pursue legislation to give police a new tool for handling teen sexting incidents. Police currently can only charge a minor who sent or received an inappropriate picture with a felony child pornography charge. Roy would like to see a new misdemeanor charge available for police to charge youth 17 and younger. Education is also important, he said.
- Explosive gas detectors: These devices detect highly volatile gases such as propane and should be required in homes where these gases are present, Roy said. They are similar to smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, he said.
- Education: Roy wants to increase the study of civics and genocide in schools and improve protection of student data.
State Sen. Karen Spilka, D-Ashland:
- Budget: Spilka, the Senate Ways and Means chairwoman, said she will focus on developing a responsible fiscal 2018 budget, which should support people in need and cities and towns while helping stimulate the economy. Officials also need to find ways to reign in increasing health care costs, she said.
- Spilka supports the paid family and medical leave bill, which passed the Senate in 2016 but did not become law. Reducing income inequality should also be a focus. People who work 40 hours per week should not be living in poverty, she said.
- Criminal justice reform: Officials need to look at alternatives to jail for adults and juveniles and consider raising the ages the juvenile justice system serves. Research shows people's brains are not fully developed until they are in their mid-20s. And, putting someone as young as 7 years old in the juvenile system is not solving what is likely a problem with the child's family, she said.
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