‘Bathroom’ bill conference is no big deal, Rosenberg says

Printed from: https://newbostonpost.com/2016/06/06/bathroom-bill-conference-is-no-big-deal-rosenberg-says/

BOSTON – Days after theMassachusetts House of Representatives followed the Senate’s lead and passed a “bathroom bill” giving transgender individuals access to the sex-segregated public facilities of their choice, Senate President Stanley Rosenberg said Monday that “timing” will be most significant question to resolve between the branches.

Democratic leaders of both chambers have been working to provide legal access for transgender individuals in places of public accommodation. But the House version of the bill includes a provision that would establish penalties for people trying to take improper advantage of the law that isn’t in the Senate version. Gov. Charlie Baker, a Republican, indicated last week that he would sign the House version, should it get to him.

But the Senate’s version calls for the measure to take effect immediately, while the House version allows until January 2017 for implementation.

The House bill also tasked the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination and the attorney general with drawing up rules on how to determine gender identity and how to deal with anyone “who asserts gender identity for an improper purpose.”

“The House language that came out of the Judiciary Committee, which was improved on the House floor, is we believe unnecessary but it’s not harmful so I don’t think that’s a flashpoint. The issue is about the timing,” Rosenberg, an Amherst Democrat, said Monday.

Ahead of last week’s debate in the House, Baker said he would sign the House version, but has not weighed in specifically on whether the effective date would be a deal-breaker for him. House Speaker Robert DeLeo, a Winthrop Democrat, has said he would like to avoid a conference if possible with time running down on the two-year session.

“One way or another we want to get this done and if we can avoid a conference that would be nice, but I don’t think conference committee is the end of the world,” Rosenberg said.

Written by Matt Murphy