In time for last Friday's Jan. 18bill filing deadline in the State House, state Sen. Mike Barrett, D-Lexington, has embraced legislative proposals to protect women’s health, ban tobacco sales in pharmacies and other places where health professionals work, and require manufacturers of computer electronics to be responsible for the disposal, recycling and reuse of old equipment.
“People in the district are contacting me with a lot of ideas,” Barrett, who represents the Third Middlesex District, said in a statement released Friday, Jan. 18, “And these will be reflected in the comprehensive list of legislative sponsorships and co-sponsorships we release at the end of the month. Today’s survey of three items reflects the diversity of district thinking.”
One of the bills Barrett is supporting would repeal or amend outdated laws that remain on the books and restrict women’s choices around family planning. One outmoded statute outlaws birth control for unmarried couples while another compels women to have abortions in hospitals only. Barrett is pro-choice and has been involved in women’s issues for four decades.
At the suggestion of a Chelmsford constituent, Barrett is also sponsoring a bill to prevent pharmacies and other retail establishments with specialized health functions from selling cigarettes and other tobacco products.
“If a store is supposed to be promoting public health,” Barrett says, “it shouldn’t at the same time promote and sell nicotine.”
As an environmental matter, Barrett is supporting legislation to require manufacturers of computers, TVs, cell phones and other electronics to be responsible for their collection, disposal, recycling and reuse. At the same time, the bill provides incentives to electronic manufacturers to produce less-toxic products. Barrett is not alone in taking this approach:182 cities and towns in Massachusetts have passed nonbinding resolutions to this effect.
Meanwhile, Barrett is hearing from constituents on a huge variety of topics. Since being sworn in earlier this month, he’s received 28 emails on the single issue of so-called “breed neutral” laws – animal control laws that permit individual dogs to be found to be dangerous, but which do not extend “dangerous dog” designations to entire breeds.