The following is a press release from the office of Senator Brian A. Joyce:
House Bill 2366, An Act relative to public access of private restrooms, sponsored by Representative Lou Kafka, and Senators Cynthia Creem, James Timilty and Brian A. Joyce, has now passed both the State Senate and House of Representatives, and will soon be sent to the governor for his signature.
The bill allows public access to private restrooms for people with Crohn's disease or colitis, forms of inflammatory bowel diseases.
“I’m proud of the fact that this bill will provide peace of mind to people suffering from diseases on the colitis spectrum, that they will be able to shop without fear of a publicly embarrassing situation,” said Representative Kafka, a Stoughton Democrat.
“I am pleased that the Legislature has taken the necessary steps to address a major public health issue,” said Senator Timilty. “This bill provides healthier, happier and safer environments for people living with diseases and I am hopeful that this measure is signed into law soon.”
“This legislation addresses a significant public health problem,” said Senator Creem. “I believe that its commonsense and reasonable provisions to allow access to restrooms in commercial establishments for persons suffering from IBD will provide increased confidence to the many people diagnosed with this condition.”
“This bill will mean a great deal to people living with these diseases,” said Joyce, who represents Stoughton in the State Senate. “It will mean they will not need to fear going out in public without having to factor in the locations of public restrooms. Living with IBD shouldn’t imprison our residents, especially young people, from living their lives, and I’m happy to see the bill pass before the end of the legislative session.”
The bill was originally filed by Representative Kafka on behalf of a teenage constituent from Sharon.
According to Joyce, the compelling advocacy of Catherine Rutley was instrumental in gaining support in the Senate, along with the efforts of Catherine’s father, Jonathan, Attorney Steve Marcus, and the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of New England.
If signed into law, Massachusetts will join 12 other states with similar laws. Roughly 30,000 Massachusetts residents suffer from Crohn’s or Colitis with at least 10 percent of those being under the age of 18.