Bill To Automatically Register Voters Sails Through Mass. Senate

The Senate accepted two conference committee reports — authorizing billions of dollars in environmental borrowing and voter enrollment reforms — during the early part of its session Monday morning.

A bill (H 4834) under which eligible voters would automatically be registered to vote when they interact with the Registry of Motor Vehicles, unless they choose to opt out, was adopted unanimously. It cleared the House on Friday.

Sen. Cynthia Creem, who led the slate of Senate negotiators, said the conference committee agreed that agencies that register people to vote will send voter information directly to the secretary of state's database instead of to town clerks.

The Senate also unanimously OK'ed a $2.4 billion package of long-term environmental investments, authorizing state borrowing to repair coastal infrastructure, fix up parkways and trails, shore up state dams and improve air and water quality.

Sen. Anne Gobi said 16 of the Senate's 24 outside policy sections were adopted by the conference committee "verbatim from what we passed" and that four others were included with changes.

Four Senate policy sections were dropped from the bill in conference, including a Senate-approved statewide ban on single-use plastic bags. Sen. Jamie Eldridge, who sponsored the bag ban amendment, said he hopes the next legislative session will feature "a more concerted effort to pass environmental legislation that in many cases has been stalled for decades."


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