Updates

Updates

COMMON-SENSE GUN CONTROL

Gun violence has darkened the doorstep of college campuses, elementary schools, grocery stores, malls, movie theaters, and churches across the United States. Stories of mass shootings have become a familiar part of the news cycle, the recent tragedy at Michigan State University being just one of approximately eighty shootings as of mid-February. But this epidemic is far from inescapable. While no single, simple solution exists, states that have common-sense gun control laws continue to rank lowest in gun violence and gun-related death.

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NLRB MARKS RETURN TO HEIGHTENED SCRUTINY OF EMPLOYEE SEVERANCE AGREEMENTS

On February 21, 2023, the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB” or “Board”) issued a decision significantly limiting the use of general confidentiality and non-disparagement clauses in severance and similar agreements with employees. The Board, in McLaren Macomb, 372 N.L.R.B. No. 58, found that an employer violated Section 8(a)(1) of the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA” or “Act”) when it offered severance agreements to employees that contained broad non-disparagement and confidentiality provisions. In doing so, the NLRB overruled two 2020 decisions that had afforded employers greater leeway with the drafting, use, and offering of similar agreements.

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MHTL STANDS FOR GOOD POLICING

“When you see these types of severe, blatant misconduct, that really has an impact on all police officers.” Those words were spoken by Chief John Carmichael of the Newton Police Department in reaction to the recent release of footage showing several Memphis police officers beating an unarmed black man: Tyre Nichols. Nichols would later die from his wounds in the hospital, sparking yet another moment of reckoning for law enforcement across the country.

To say it has been a difficult time over these last few years would be an understatement, and it would ignore the decades of trauma that preceded the current spotlight on law enforcement. However, in the wake of this most recent tragedy, it is important to reflect on where we are, how far we have come, and where we want to be.

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INCORPORATING THE NEW STUDENT DISCIPLINE LAW INTO STUDENT HANDBOOKS AND SCHOOL POLICIES

Chapter 177 of Acts of 2022, “An Act Addressing Barriers to Care for Mental Health,” signed into law on August 10, 2022, made significant changes to student discipline law, Massachusetts General Law, Chapter 71, Section 37H3/4.

According to the revised Massachusetts General Law, Chapter 71, Section 37H3/4, school principals or their designee, before issuing any disciplinary consequences under Section 37H3/4, must consider alternative methods to re-engage the student in the learning process and cannot suspend a student until alternative remedies have been employed and the use and results of such remedies have been documented.

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MARIJUANA REFORM BILL BECOMES LAW

On August 12, 2022, Governor Charlie Baker signed S. 3096, “An act relative to equity in the cannabis industry,” (“Act”) into law. The Act reforms Massachusetts’s existing marijuana laws, particularly with respect to host community agreements (“HCAs”), community impact fees (“CIFs”), and social consumption sites (e.g. marijuana cafes). The Act empowers the Cannabis Control Commission (“Commission”), the state regulatory agency, to exert greater control over HCAs and their CIFs. Municipalities levy CIFs on cannabis businesses to account for the costs they impose on the municipality as a result of their operations. Additionally, the Act allows municipalities to permit on-premises social consumption of marijuana at designated sites. Other notable provisions of the Act include the new Social Equity Trust Fund (“Trust Fund”), changes to the tax law regarding cannabis businesses, and various provisions concerning those persons and communities most impacted by the prior illegality of marijuana usage and sale. Governor Baker vetoed only one section of the final bill: the provision calling on the state to conduct a study of medical marijuana usage in schools.

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OPEN MEETING LAW TEMPORARY AUTHORIZATION FOR REMOTE PARTICIPATION EXTENDED BY LEGISLATURE – AWAITS GOVERNOR’S SIGNATURE

Last night, the House and Senate enacted S. 3007, which extends the authorization for remote participation for all public bodies until March 31, 2023. The legislature enacted the bill with Emergency Authorization, meaning it will go into effect as soon as the Governor signs it. This measure simply extends the prior authorization, which expired at 12:01AM on July 15, 2022, and allows public bodies the ability to choose to continue the now well-established remote meeting protocols, dating back to March 2020.

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Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization: The Supreme Court Overrules Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey

On June 24, 2022, the United States Supreme Court overruled the landmark constitutional case Roe v. Wade and the key subsequent decision Planned Parenthood v. Casey in a majority opinion authored by Justice Samuel Alito. The Court held that “[t]he Constitution does not confer a right to abortion; Roe and Casey are overruled; and the authority to regulate abortion is returned to the people and their elected representatives.”

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The World Needs to Act

  MHTL supports the international effort to help Ukraine and bring an end to the political and humanitarian crisis that is unfolding.   Too long has the world, and this country also, allowed bad actors to use the weapons of war, including the threat of...

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Latest News

Statutory Regulations Released for Interagency Review of Complex Cases

On March 1, 2024, EOHHS and DESE released the long-awaited, final adoption of the regulations governing the Interagency Review of Complex Cases (published as 101 CMR 27.00). These regulations had been anticipated since the Massachusetts Legislature passed “An Act Addressing Barriers to Care for Mental Health” in August, 2022. The purpose of the law is the establishment of a team that will collaborate on complex cases where there is an urgent need to address a lack of consensus between state agencies about the service needs or placement of an individual. This replaces what was known as the Unified Planning Team, or “UPT”. The co-chairs of the IRT will be the secretary (or a designee) from EOHHS and the commissioner (or a designee) of DESE.

Legal Updates

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION ISSUES REVISED TITLE IX REGULATIONS

On April 19, 2024, the United States Department of Education (“DOE”) issued final regulations for Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (“Title IX”). Title IX prohibits discrimination based on sex in education programs or activities receiving federal financial assistance. The new regulations go into effect on August 1, 2024, so school districts are encouraged to review their policies and procedures and provide staff training on these new regulations as soon as possible. The final regulations continue to list specific elements that must be included in any policy, such as range of disciplinary actions, standards of evidence, and procedures. The DOE has provided template policies here: https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/docs/resource-nondiscrimination-policies.pdf and Murphy, Hesse, Toomey & Lehane will be creating model policies and notice letters as well.

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