Massachusetts Legislation

Massachusetts Legislation 2017-09-27T12:50:52+00:00

Current Legislation

House Bill 3556 – An Act relating to digital citizenship and media literacy in public schools.

H 3556 – An Act relating to digital citizenship and media literacy in public schools

January 23, 2017 – House; Referred to the Committee on Education.
January 23, 2017 –  Senate; Senate concurred.
June 22, 2017 – Joint; Hearing scheduled for 06/27/2017.

Massachusetts H 3556 – An Act relating to Digital Citizenship and Media Literacy in public schools

Authorizing the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to develop best practices and recommendations for instruction in digital citizenship, internet safety, and media literacy.

This new bill was introduced by Rep. David M. Rogers (D-24th Middlesex). The bill is based on Media Literacy Now’s national model, successful in Washington state.

Senate Bill 2113 – An Act relative to healthy youth; legislation relative to student sex education.

SB2113 – An Act relative to healthy youth; legislation relative to student sex education.
Replaces MA SB2128

May 18, 2017 – Senate; SB2071 reported from the committee on Education; New draft of S234; Bill reported favorably by committee and referred to Senate Ways and Means.
July 13, 2017 – Senate; Ways and Means Committee voted to approve bill with clause suggesting analysis of media messages in teaching sex ed: Amendment filed (Sen. Creem) to make media analysis a requirement : Senate debate 7/20/17.
July 20, 2017 – Senate; Reprinted as amended.

Massachusetts SB2113 – An Act relative to healthy youth; legislation relative to student sex education.

SB2113 (formerly S2071 and S234) proposes an amendment to Chapter 71 of the General Laws, requiring that if a school district is teaching sex ed, it must be comprehensive, and include contraception, negotiating and communication skills as a basis for healthy relationships, and must not discriminate based on gender or sexual orientation, among other things. Parents have the choice to opt out for their child.

Because media literacy is a crucial component of health and sexuality education, Media Literacy Now advocated to add a media literacy amendment. As a result, the bill additionally requires “opportunities for students to analyze societal and media messages that encourage risky or unhealthy behaviors regarding sexual activity and sexual development.”

This proposed language is based on the CDC’s National Health Education Standards and ‘Characteristics of an Effective Health Education Curriculum.’

We expect an amendment with stronger language to be introduced on the floor of the Senate.

Massachusetts House Bill 329 – An Act to establish more rigorous thinking in MA public education; relative to improving education in the public schools.

H 329 – An Act to establish more rigorous thinking in MA public education; relative to improving education in the public schools.

Jan 23, 2017 – House: Referred to the committee on Education; Senate concurred.
June 22, 2017 – Joint : Hearing scheduled for 06/27/2017.

Massachusetts H 329 – An Act to establish more rigorous thinking in MA public education; relative to improving education in the public schools.

This bill would amend the state’s General Laws to conduct a pilot study which would establish a curriculum based on the following principles:

• Logic, critical thinking, and evidence-based research are increasingly more important with the rapid pace of scientific and technological advancements.
• America is increasingly importing scientists and engineers from other countries.
• These skills help to offset the impact of students being in an “echo chamber” in their daily life.
• Many professional fields benefit from the use of logic, critical thinking, and evidence based research.
• Using logic, critical thinking, and evidence based research greatly increases the ability for a person to make informed decisions that can prevent harm to themselves or others.
• Future generations will influence legislative policies that will require logic, critical thinking, and evidence-based research in order to develop well informed viewpoints.
• Teaching and cultivating these skills aids in preparing students for success in college and future jobs.
• The Massachusetts Curriculum Framework requires students to use logical thought process in various subjects but doesn’t actually teach the concept of logic or logical fallacies.
• Students, who are exposed to the Internet and a variety of mass media, can learn to better scrutinize the information they come in contact with much earlier in their development.
• Early and ongoing application of Scientific Method increases students understanding of how scientists come to the conclusions that they come to.
• Reinforcing Scientific Method will aid students in making more informed decisions in regards to legislation based on scientific findings as adults.

Senate Bill 1562 – Legislation to promote healthy alternatives to sugary drinks.

S 1562 – An Act to promote healthy alternatives to sugary drinks

January 23, 2017 – Senate; Referred to the Committee on Revenue.
January 23, 2017 – House; House concurred.
May 26, 2017 – Joint; Hearing scheduled for 06/20/2017.

Massachusetts S 1562 – To promote healthy alternatives to sugary drinks

This proposed Act, designed to promote healthy alternatives to sugary drinks, includes the following media literacy language:

“The department of elementary and secondary education shall encourage school districts to implement instruction in media literacy skills from the third grade to the twelfth grade, and in any of the core subjects or other subjects, to equip students with skills for accessing, analyzing, evaluating, and creating all types of media. Instruction shall include, but not be limited to, teaching of skills for analyzing and evaluating advertising content for food, beverages, drugs and alcohol.”

House Bill 2858 – Relative to prohibiting the marketing of sugary drinks on school grounds.

H 2858 – An Act to protect youth from the health risks of sugary drinks.

January 23, 2017 – House; Referred to the Committee on Education.
January 23, 2017 – Senate; Senate concurred.
Sept 18, 2017 – House; Discharged to the Joint Committee on Public Health.
Sept 21, 2017 – Senate; Senate concurred.

Massachusetts H 2858 – An Act to protect youth from the health risks of sugary drinks.

This proposed Act, designed to protect youth from the health risks of sugary drinks by prohibiting the marketing of sugary drinks in schools, includes the following media literacy language:

The department of elementary and secondary education shall encourage school districts to implement instruction in media literacy skills from the third grade to the twelfth grade, and in any of the core subjects or other subjects, to equip students with skills for accessing, analyzing, evaluating, and creating all types of media. Instruction shall include, but not be limited to, teaching of skills for analyzing and evaluating advertising content for food, beverages, drugs and alcohol.

House Bill 3329 – To establish a tiered system of tax incentives to promote healthy alternatives to sugary drinks.

H 3329 – To establish a tiered system of tax incentives to promote healthy alternatives to sugary drinks. 

January 23, 2017 – House; Referred to the Committee on Revenue.
January 23, 2017 – Senate; Senate concurred.
May 31, 2017 – Joint; Hearing scheduled for 06/20/2017.
July 12, 2017 –  Joint; Hearing rescheduled to 07/18/2017.

Massachusetts H 3329 – to establish a tiered system of tax incentives to promote healthy alternatives to sugary drinks.

This proposed Act, designed to establish a tiered system of tax incentives to promote healthy alternatives to sugary drinks, includes the following media literacy language:

The department of elementary and secondary education shall encourage school districts to implement instruction in media literacy skills from the third grade to the twelfth grade, and in any of the core subjects or other subjects, to equip students with skills for accessing, analyzing, evaluating, and creating all types of media. Instruction shall include, but not be limited to, teaching of skills for analyzing and evaluating advertising content for food, beverages, drugs and alcohol.

Senate Bill  278 – For legislation relative to civics and new media literacy education in schools.

Massachusetts S278  | 2017-2018 | 190th General Court

Jan 23, 2017 – Senate referred to the Joint Committee on Education; House concurred.
June 7, 2017 – Joint Hearing scheduled for 06/13/2017.

Massachusetts S278
An Act relative to civics and new media literacy education in schools.

  • The department of elementary and secondary education shall encourage school districts to implement instruction in news media literacy skills at all grade levels, and in any of the core subjects or other subjects, to equip students with the knowledge and skills for accessing, analyzing, evaluating, and creating all types of news media, including print, online, television, and social media.
  • The department shall implement a required project in civics participation, also known as action civics, for all students at least once in elementary school and at least once in high school. The department shall also implement an assessment designed to measure the civics learning objectives…
  • The department … shall establish a pilot program … on news media literacy. Said program shall be voluntary and shall be used to evaluate the effectiveness of teaching news media literacy, with the ultimate goal of requiring news media literacy be taught in all schools across the commonwealth.

Senate Bill 307 / House Bill 315 – An Act to involve youth in civic engagement.

Massachusetts S307  | 2017-2018 | 190th General Court
Jan 23, 2017 – Referred to the Joint Committee on Education; House concurred.
June 7, 2017 – Joint Hearing scheduled for 6/13/2017.

Massachusetts H315 | 2017-2018 | 190th General Court
Jan 23, 2017 – Referred to the Joint Committee on Education; Senate concurred.
May 31, 2017 – Joint Hearing scheduled for 6/6/2017.
June 7, 2017 – Joint; Hearing scheduled for 06/13/2017.

Massachusetts S307  |  Massachusetts H315
An Act to involve youth in civic engagement.

  • The department of elementary and secondary education shall develop …model curriculum units addressing the following topics: the function and composition of the branches of local, state, and federal government, the history of social movements, current events, and community-based action and service-learning projects.
  • The department shall also consider the incorporation of media literacy education into the model curriculum units…
  • The department shall consult with a youth advisory committee in the development, review, enhancement, and evaluation of the model curriculum units.

House Bill 948 – Relative to the transmitting of indecent visual depictions by persons younger than eighteen years of age.

Massachusetts H948  | 2017-2018 | 190th General Court

Jan 23, 2017 – Referred to the Joint Committee on the Judiciary; Senate concurred.

Massachusetts H948
An Act relative to transmitting indecent visual depictions by teens.

This Act would amend the General Laws by adding the following:

…Any person less than eighteen years of age that uses a telecommunications or other device to knowingly transmit or distribute to another person an indecent visual depiction… shall be punished by a fine of not less than fifty nor more than five hundred dollars or by commitment to the department of youth services for not more than six months, or both.

A person who has been convicted under this section shall not be required to register with the Sex Offender Registry Board and no data relating to such conviction shall be transmitted to the Board…

If a child is alleged to be a juvenile delinquent … the court shall … indefinitely stay arraignment and direct that the child enter and complete an educational diversion program approved by the district attorney…

A comprehensive educational diversion program (shall be created), designed to provide teenagers with information about the legal consequences of and penalties for transmitting indecent visual depictions known as “sexting” or posting indecent visual depictions online; the non-legal consequences of sexting or posting such pictures, including the effect on relationships, loss of educational and employment opportunities, and being barred or removed from school programs and extracurricular activities; how the unique characteristics of cyberspace and the Internet can produce long-term and unforeseen consequences for sexting and posting such photographs; and the connection between bullying and cyber-bulling and juveniles sexting or posting sexual images.

The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education shall encourage school districts to implement instruction in media literacy skills at all grade levels, and in any of the core subjects or other subjects, to equip students with the knowledge and skills for accessing, analyzing, evaluating, and creating all types of media.

Recent Legislation

House Bill  4370 – Relative to transmitting indecent visual depictions by teens.

Massachusetts H4370  |  2015-2016  | Prior Session Legislation

June 6, 2016 – Introduced.

Bill reported favorably by committee and referred to the House Ways and Means Committee.

25% progression, Died in committee.

This bill, sponsored by State Rep. Jeffrey Roy and with language suggested by Media Literacy Now, addressed youth sexting as an issue that needs a media literacy solution.

The bill, “relative to transmitting indecent visual depictions by teens,” focused on reducing the over-prosecution of teen sexting and advocated for a basic educational foundation – about illegal sexting and its potential broader, non-legal consequences.

MA H4370 text at Massachusetts Legislature

House Bill 471 / Senate Bill 2338 – An Act concerning media literacy in schools.

H471  |  2015-2016  |  Prior Session Legislation

  • January 2015 – Introduced; Referred to Joint Committee on Education.
  • August 29, 2016 – Accompanied a study order, see H4591.

25% progression, Died in chamber.

S2338  | 2015-2016  | Prior Session Legislation
  • June 20, 2016 –  Senate Discharged to the committee on Senate Rules.
  • June 16, 2016 – Reported from the committee on Education; Order reported favorably by committee and referred to the committee on Rules of the two branches, acting concurrently.

25% progression, Died in committee.

The language of this legislation was revised from a bill introduced in the previous session. In the previous session, Media Literacy Now made a strong case for the need for media literacy for civics education. As a result, the bill was reported out of the Joint Committee on Education in a redraft that would have elevated media literacy within civics curriculum.

The bills, identical in both houses, would elevate media literacy education as a priority in Massachusetts schools by requiring the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to encourage school districts to implement media literacy education in all grades.

 

Bill Language

SECTION 1. The second paragraph of Section 1 of chapter 71 of the General Laws is hereby amended by adding the following sentence: – The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education shall encourage school districts to implement instruction in media literacy skills at all grade levels, and in any of the core subjects or other subjects, to equip students with the knowledge and skills for accessing, analyzing, evaluating, and creating all types of media.

Senate Bill 2253 – An Act to involve youth in civic engagement.

S2253  |  2015-2016  |  Prior Session Legislation

April 28, 2016 – Bill reported favorably by committee; referred to Committee on Senate Ways and Means.
April 28, 2016 – New draft of S249 and S332.
April 28, 2016 – Reported from the committee on Education.

25% progression, Died in chamber.

This bill instructed the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to develop model curriculum units.

The Joint Committee on Education reported the same bill during the previous legislative session. This year, language referencing media literacy (“The department shall also, in consultation with national or statewide organizations focused on media literacy, consider the incorporation of media literacy education into the model curriculum units”) was excluded.

Bill S.2253 – An Act to involve youth in civic engagement

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