CRIME VICTIMS’ PHOTOS

By Bob Katzen

The House gave near final approval to and sent to the Senate legislation that would prohibit first responders from taking photos of crime scene victims, accidents or emergencies unless it is in the course of their official duties or with the consent of the victim. If the victim is unable to consent, an immediate family member of the victim is allowed to give consent.

The House gave initial approval to the bill two weeks ago.

Supporters said the privacy of accident victims should not be violated by first-responder government workers who are entrusted with rescuing them. They noted it is outrageous that the photos are often posted online.

Following initial approval two weeks ago and following last week’s near-final approval of the bill, co-sponsors Sen. Eric Lesser (D-Longmeadow) and Rep. Joe Wagner (D-Chicopee) did not respond to repeated requests by Beacon Hill Roll Call to comment on the approval of the legislation.

SEVERAL BILLS ON THEIR WAY TO A “STUDY” COMMITTEE – House and Senate committees recommended that several bills be shipped off to a study committee where bills are rarely actually studied and are essentially defeated. It is a way to kill a proposal without holding a vote on the bill itself. Here are some of the bills that will soon be sent off to a study committee:

USE ELECTRICITY INSTEAD OF OIL AND NATURAL GAS (H 4477) – Would require all new construction of and major renovations to buildings to use electricity or thermal solar instead of oil and natural gas for space heating and cooling, cooking, clothes drying and hot water.

Sponsor Rep. Kay Khan (D-Newton) said she filed this bill because the state is facing a climate emergency and it is imperative that the state eliminate the use of fossil fuels as quickly as possible. “Natural gas, the most common fuel used for heating, is responsible for very significant greenhouse gas emissions,” said Khan. “The emissions come from burning natural gas to heat our homes and cook our food but also from … the old, decrepit pipes under our streets, and from our stoves even when they are turned off. Natural gas presents a danger of explosions, and exposure can aggravate asthma and lung conditions.

“Electricity can be generated with renewable power like solar and wind, while the natural gas and heating oil we use to heat buildings cannot be made cleaner,” continued Khan. “The offshore wind industry in Massachusetts is about to take off, making it a particularly opportune time to require that new construction be all-electric. I filed [the bill] to ensure that we are moving in the direction of electrification as quickly as possible and that we stop constructing new buildings with infrastructure that will need to be replaced almost immediately.”

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