With the legislature set to break for holidays on November 19th, there is less than a month remaining for lawmakers to bring the issue of full transgender non-discrimination protections up for a vote.
SB 735 and HB 1577—legislation to update Commonwealth non-discrimination laws to include protections for transgender Bay Staters in public space—have been sitting in the Joint Committee on the Judiciary since the public hearing earlier this month. And with no firm commitment from lawmakers on when they’ll bring a vote, there’s mounting concern that it might not move this year at all.
In order to reach a final decision on this critical non-discrimination legislation in 2015, the Joint Committee on the Judiciary must first vote to approve it and send it to the House of Representatives and Senate. Both chambers must also vote. And then, if it receives a majority approval, the legislation will go to the Governor for signing.
After breaking for the holidays, the legislature typically does not re-adjourn until after the New Year. Because 2016 is an election year, legislation like SB 735 and HB 1577 won’t be on the agenda.
In other words, if the legislation does not hit the Governor’s desk before November 19th, then a decision on full transgender equality is unlikely until 2017.
We saw a strong response from the general public, business community and from within the Statehouse during the lead up to the public hearing when community engagement on the issue was active.
For the next month we will be rigorously lobbying legislators, both from within the Statehouse and without, to send a clear message: The issue of full transgender equality in the Bay State cannot wait until 2017.