Both the House and Senate engrossed major criminal justice reform bills in the last weeks of formal session in November, 2017. Because there are differences in the bills passed by the respective branches, the bills are currently being reconciled in conference committee. The bill that the conference committee releases will then be enacted, presumably, by both chambers - this will be an up or down vote, without any amendments.
This bill has been many years in preparation, thanks to the advocacy of many, and substantial preparation by members of the legislature, especially members of the Harm Reduction Caucus and the Progressive Caucus. Because I've never practiced criminal law, I did a lot of reading, and attended many briefings about topics from bail to probation, criminal records to solitary confinement. The new House Chair of the Judiciary committee, Claire Cronin, herself a criminal defense lawyer, kept an open door and invited all House members to talk to her about what we wanted to see in the bill the House produced.
The House bill was thoughtful and comprehensive. Although it did not go as far as some of us would have liked, it made historic - and overdue - changes in Massachusetts criminal law. As part of the Progressive Caucus, I followed the bill closely, and helped to craft a detailed letter to the conference committee, commenting on the two versions and making suggestions for producing the best possible bill that we can hope to see as the culmination of this unprecedented lawmaking process.