SENATE APPROVED STATE MILITARY JUSTICE BILL

By Bob Katzen

The House approved a Senate-approved bill that creates a state-specific code of conduct for National Guard members while doing their job in Massachusetts. When guard members are in federal service, they are subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice but when in the state there is no Code of Military Justice governing their conduct.

“This makes Massachusetts an outlier among our fellow states,” said Gov. Charlie Baker, who filed the original bill. “We are one of only a handful of states that do not have a state Code of Military Justice. It
also creates a situation in which people may be treated unequally based on whether they are serving in a federal capacity or in a state capacity.”

Other provisions increase the minimum daily pay for certain members of the organized militia performing state active duty from $100 per day to $200 per day; increase the age limit for some members of the state militia of the from 45 to 65; and allow all members of the military force under orders of the Commander-in-Chief, to enter upon and occupy public or private lands when on duty.

“Our National Guard includes the oldest serving units in the United States Military,” continued Baker. Since 1636, the Guard has been a vital resource for the nation and for the commonwealth. In support of our national defense, the Guard provides well-equipped, well-trained soldiers and airmen to support national security objectives and interests. As governor and Commander-in-Chief, it is my honor to oversee the Guard’s state mission: assisting civil authorities in the preservation of life and property.”

The new law is estimated to cost the state $250,000. Final approval is needed in each branch prior to the measure going to the governor for his signature.

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