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Election 2016: one call to make the day after

October 26, 2016:- With less than a fortnight to go until the general election, now is the time to start thinking about the day after.

In addition to choosing the state’s presidential electors, in 13 days’ time Massachusetts voters will elect the state legislature, officially known as the Great and General Court of Massachusetts. Perhaps “elect” is too strong a word given that almost 80% of the seats are uncontested, earning Massachusetts a competitiveness ranking of 44 out of 50. Nevertheless, even without the ordeal of an actual race many freshly re-elected politicians tend to experience feelings of relief and generosity of spirit, which makes Election Day + 1 an ideal time to ask them for a favor.

If you are willing to make one post-election request of your state representative and senator, please consider asking them to co-sponsor a bill to restore some balance to the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD). The goal is quite modest. If enacted, this piece of legislation would require the MCAD to make sure that it only handles cases that fall within its jurisdiction. In fact it does not even go that far. It puts the onus on the respondent (the person being accused of discrimination) to file a motion to dismiss, which would automatically stay, i.e. pause, the investigation until the MCAD determines that it does, in fact, have jurisdiction.

Why is this necessary? Because, as a report by the State Auditor showed, the MCAD routinely investigates cases that are outside its statutory remit, which not only contributes to the agency’s four-year backlog but is unfair to the individuals who are haled in and investigated without justification. Click here for my article on the subject in the Massachusetts Bar Association’s Lawyers Journal.

Invidious discrimination is real, and there are enough cases that do fall within the MCAD’s jurisdiction without the agency having to spend its budget investigating cases that do not. The new legislation would restore some balance. If you would like a copy of the bill and a bill summary for legislators and their aides, email peter@petervickery.com with the words “MCAD Bill” in the subject line.

justice

 

Emergency Regulation on Crowdfunding: Public Hearing

If you are thinking of using crowd-funding to help your business take wing, please note:  Massachusetts is considering a regulation that would define how much money you can raise, over what period, and from whom. Earlier this year the Commonwealth’s securities division adopted an emergency regulation on this subject, and — with an eye to crafting a more permanent version — is currently accepting comments. In addition to the temporal, geographic, and dollar-amount limits, the regulation requires that entrepreneurs publish certain “risk disclosures.”

To its credit, the division’s official request for public comment poses questions about the relationship of the state regulation to its federal equivalents and the potential for Massachusetts collaborating with other states. Given the fact that the emergency regulation is already on the books and that the state securities division is on the verge of promulgating the updated version, I suppose it’s too late to call the whole thing off. But small-business owners may well wonder, do we really need state-level rules and an interstate compact to further regulate (and hamper) this particular online activity?

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Peter Vickery, Esq.

A pubic hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, March 24, at 10:00 a.m. in Boston.  In the meantime, if you have an interest in building businesses through crowd-funding, I recommend that you (1) take a look at the mandatory Small Business Impact Statement (scroll down past the public hearing notice) which states that the regulation’s purpose is to “foster job creation by helping small and early-stage Massachusetts companies find investors and gain greater access to capital with fewer restrictions; (2) read the regulation; and then (3) ponder the compatibility of points (1) and (2).