PAYANO: Three Groundbreaking Senate Bills Champion Consumer, Animal Protection

By: Senator Pavel Payano – Feb. 2024

In a series of landmark decisions, the Massachusetts State Senate recently passed three crucial bills aimed at enhancing consumer and animal protection across the Commonwealth. Here are some of the bills that passed the Senate and are waiting for the Massachusetts House of Representatives to further consider.


The Massachusetts Senate has taken a significant step toward enhancing consumer protection in real estate transactions by passing S.2550—An Act providing consumers with equal protection for all real estate appraisals. This legislation aims to establish comprehensive statewide standards for real estate appraisals, necessitating that all evaluations be exclusively conducted by certified or licensed appraisers.
Presently, Massachusetts law permits individuals, regardless of their education or experience, to perform valuation services for various purposes, such as estate settlements, divorces, and business dissolutions.

This lack of regulation exposes consumers to undue risks, as unlicensed individuals may offer unsupported valuations without accountability or oversight. Moreover, the absence of licensure leaves consumers with no recourse through the state’s Division of Occupational Licensure when harm occurs.

In stark contrast, 42 other states ensure consumer protection by mandating the involvement of certified or licensed appraisers in all real estate appraisals, according to the Appraisal Subcommittee of the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council. Massachusetts currently falls short in safeguarding consumers, as licensing is only obligatory for federally related transactions like certain mortgages. This gap allows unlicensed individuals to conduct real estate valuation services for any other purpose.
The proposed legislation outlines stringent criteria for individuals seeking state certification or licensing for appraisals.

These standards include completing 200 to 300 hours of classroom appraisal education, passing exams, participating in 15 hours of classroom instruction on the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice, accumulating 1,000 to 3,000 hours of supervised appraisal experience, passing a 4- to 6-hour national licensing examination, and completing 28 hours of continuing education every two years, with 7 hours focused on the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice.

Real estate appraisal professionals strongly support the effort to increase appraisal licensure, emphasizing the importance of qualified professionals in the appraisal process. With the Senate’s approval, the legislation now advances to the Massachusetts House of Representatives for further consideration, marking a critical move toward standardized and consumer-focused real estate appraisals in the Commonwealth.


In a dedicated effort to safeguard the well-being of feline companions, the Massachusetts Senate has unanimously passed S.2552—An Act prohibiting inhumane feline declawing. If enacted, this legislation would position Massachusetts as the third state in the nation to prohibit the cruel practice of declawing cats, permitting it only in cases of medical necessity as determined by a licensed veterinarian.

The act of declawing involves the amputation of the first bone on each toe, while tendonectomies entail cutting a tendon in each toe responsible for controlling claw extension. Cats subjected to declawing procedures are at an increased risk of experiencing various health issues, including paw pain, back pain, infection, tissue death, and potential difficulties in using their legs properly. The Humane Society of the United States reports that declawed cats are more prone to nerve damage and bone spurs due to claw regrowth. It is important to note that declawing is often performed for human convenience and to prevent damage to furniture, rather than for medical necessity.

The legislation specifically targets the prevention of declawing for non-medical reasons, introducing civil penalties for violations. This groundbreaking move positions Massachusetts alongside New York and Maryland as the third state to institute a ban on declawing, eliciting commendation from prominent animal rights and welfare organizations, including the MSPCA-Angell, the Animal Legal Defense Fund, and The Humane Society of the United States. As the bill progresses, advocates hope it sets a precedent for humane treatment of animals, signaling a positive shift in the approach to feline welfare across the nation.


In a unanimous decision, the Massachusetts Senate gave the green light to S.2541—An Act expanding wheelchair warranty protections for consumers with disabilities. This law beefs up the rights of wheelchair users, making it mandatory for all wheelchairs to have warranties, extending the minimum warranty period to two years, and laying down standards for repairs and replacements.

Under this law, all wheelchairs sold or leased in Massachusetts must now include express warranties. This is a notable change from the current rule, which only requires express warranties for customized wheelchairs. The legislation also extends the warranty period for wheelchairs from one year to two years, aligning Massachusetts with states like Rhode Island and Connecticut.

To address delays in repairs, the bill insists that wheelchair service providers remotely diagnose repair issues within three business days after a consumer reports a problem. An in-person assessment must then be provided within four business days.

If a wheelchair user can’t use their in-warranty chair during repairs, the bill mandates that manufacturers or dealers either reimburse them or provide a loaner wheelchair within four business days for most wheelchairs, or within eight business days for highly customized ones.

The bill further requires manufacturers and dealers to cover any additional costs during the repair process for in-warranty wheelchairs. For out-of-warranty wheelchairs, the legislation puts a stop to insurers requiring consumers to go through a complicated prior authorization process for repairs under $1,000. Additionally, the bill empowers the Attorney General’s office to take legal action against service providers engaging in unfair or deceptive practices.

Now, as the legislation heads to the Massachusetts House of Representatives, advocates are optimistic about its passage, solidifying Massachusetts as a leader in protecting the rights of individuals with disabilities. Notably, a similar version of the legislation passed the Senate in 2022, but unfortunately, it did not progress further in the legislative process. ◊