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    Story by Maj. Brett Walker 

    65th Press Camp Headquarters

    BOSTON – The Massachusetts legislature is considering a vote to grant better pay and greater control to the Massachusetts National Guard. The Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security gave the draft legislation a favorable report following a hearing on Thursday.

    Gov. Charlie Baker filed Senate Bill 2236, entitled an Act Establishing the Massachusetts Code of Military Justice, in December 2017. The bill proposes to double the minimum pay for some soldiers and airmen of the Massachusetts National Guard performing State Active Duty service as well as institute a criminal code for servicemembers performing most duties within the boundaries of the Commonwealth.

    “This legislation also makes a number of updates to the National Guard’s enabling statute, Chapter 33 of our General Laws,” said Baker in a written submission accompanying the bill. “These updates modernize and streamline parts of the statute.”

    Details on the bill, including the full text and key dates, are available at

    The proposed pay improvements pertain specifically to service members performing State Active Duty, which means they are operating under the exclusive authority of the Governor of Massachusetts rather than the federal Department of Defense.

    Periods of weekend drills, annual training and combat deployments are covered by Title 10 and Title 32 of the Unites States Code. State Active Duty is invoked when soldiers and airmen are mobilized by the governor during storm and flooding responses in Massachusetts, in state security roles like the 4th of July celebration on Boston’s Esplanade and mustered for homeland defense such as the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013.

    According to Baker, the most recent instance of State Active Duty was the 65th Press Camp Headquarters deploying to Puerto Rico to assist in hurricane recovery.

    Under the current law, compensation for State Active Duty service is linked to a Guardsman’s military rank, but it cannot be less than $100. When on federal orders some junior soldiers can earn less than $100 per day, but Massachusetts law requires they receive at least $100 per day for their labor shoveling snow along train tracks, distributing water to isolated communities, or patrolling the streets for terrorist.

    “Senate Bill 2236 will double the minimum daily pay for State Active Duty from $100 to $200, ensuring that your junior airmen and soldiers will be compensated appropriately when called to duty here in the Commonwealth for a typical twelve hour duty day,” said Maj. Gen. Gary Keefe, the Adjutant General of the Massachusetts National Guard, testifying before the state senate in favor of the bill.

    For service members already earning more than $200 per day on State Active Duty by virtue of their seniority, the bill will not increase their pay. However, Senate Bill 2236 will affect all members of the Massachusetts National Guard, regardless of rank, by establishing a Massachusetts Code of Military Justice. The Massachusetts Code of Military Justice is as a set of rules applicable to soldiers and airmen serving on State Active Duty and during most in-state training periods.

    “The bill will establish a much needed state military code,” said Keefe. “The bill applies only to military related crimes.”

    Should a service member’s conduct offend the good order and discipline of the unit mission while performing routine training pursuant to Title 32 of the federal code or serving on State Active Duty, the Massachusetts Code of Military Justice establishes criminal offenses that can be charged against that soldier or airman. It also announces a process by which an in-state court martial could be convened to deliberate upon charged offenses.

    “The bill does not replace the state criminal justice system and allows the Attorney General’s office and District Attorneys to prosecute under existing state criminal statutes,” said Keefe.

    Massachusetts is in the minority among states in as much as it does not have its own code of military justice. Until such a code is adopted by the state legislature, the military will be limited in its ability to enforce its internal rules on soldiers and airmen conducting weekend or summer training as well as those serving on State Active Duty.

    “This legislation is modeled on the American Bar Association’s Model State Code of Military Justice,” said Baker in his written remarks to the State Senate. “It establishes a series of military crimes that parallel those found in the [federal] Uniform Code of Military Justice. It also establishes procedures for the convening and conduct of courts-martial.”

    State Representative Harold Naughton (D – Clinton, MA) is co-chair of the Massachusetts legislature’s Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security, which recommended Senate Bill 2236 be presented for a vote. He is also a major in the Massachusetts Army National Guard.

    “The citizens of the Commonwealth depend on their National Guard,” said Naughton. “It is difficult work they are called to do and we need to ensure those Guardsman are paid fairly for that work.”

    Naughton expects the state legislature to vote on the bill sometime in the spring.

    Story by Maj. Brett Walker, Massachusetts National Guard Public Affairs.



    Date Taken: 02.03.2018
    Date Posted: 02.23.2018 11:19
    Story ID: 265806
    Location: BOSTON, MA, US 

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