This Bad Bill Alert is about HB2811 – “An Act establishing an office of access and opportunity.” Despite the name, the law would not expand access or opportunity. Instead, it would simply create a duplicative government agency, cost taxpayers money, and do nothing that the existing anti-discrimination organizations don’t already accomplish.
Sponsored by Rep. Byron Rushing (D – Boston), the bill would create the Office of Access and Opportunity. The new agency would be headed by, “an assistant secretary for access and opportunity who shall be appointed by the secretary with the approval of the governor. The assistant secretary shall be a person who has at least 5 years experience in the area of civil rights or diversity and inclusion efforts.” This new assistant secretary would also hire other employees to carry out the office’s mission. In total, this could cost taxpayers millions of dollars.
The office would be responsible for “[promoting] non-discrimination and equal opportunity in all aspects of executive agency decision-making and operations.” This is important but it’s already happening. There are already strict anti-discrimination laws on the books in Massachusetts. State agencies already have human resources departments responsible for promoting equal opportunity. Some agencies have a specialized employee whose sole job is ensuring non-discrimination. There is no evidence that these agencies aren’t doing their jobs, so there is no reason to create a redundant department.