Negotiators agree to October implementation date for ‘bathroom bill’
By State House News Service | July 7, 2016, 6:22 EDT
STATE HOUSE — A deal regarding transgender individuals in places of public accommodation, such as restaurants, locker rooms and pools, was struck Wednesday between House and Senate negotiators.
The compromise (S 2407) would allow transgender individuals to use the facilities that match their gender identity, and not necessarily their anatomical sex.
While opponents criticized the legislation for potentially putting women and children and their privacy at risk, supporters pointed to states across the country that have implemented similar laws without much incident.
A six-member conference committee – led by Sen. William Brownsberger and Rep. John Fernandes – adopted a provision from the House-approved bill that would instruct Attorney General Maura Healey to develop guidance for how and when a case could be brought against someone who asserts a specific gender identity for improper use of a facility.
The clause was seen as critical to winning Gov. Charlie Baker’s support for the bill. Baker helped spur action in the Legislature earlier this year when he said he would sign the House’s version of bill. Baker would still need to sign off on the changes, though Fernandes described them as minor.
The negotiating panel also compromised on the effective date of the anti-discrimination protections, allowing until Oct. 1 for full protections of the law to take effect, giving Healey and her office time to develop recommendations by Sept. 1 and allow a month for the public and businesses to understand how the laws will work in practice.
The Senate bill had called for the law’s immediate implementation, while the House initially proposed waiting until Jan. 1. Transgender advocates said the compromise was acceptable.
Both Fernandes and Brownsberger said they hope the conference report will be taken up as soon as possible by both branches. A senior House aide confirmed the House plans to take up the compromise on Thursday.