Noncompete reform: Update on negotiations

Negotiations in the Conference Committee—consisting of Reps. Dempsey, Scibak, and Barrows, and Sens.Wolf, Brownsberger, and Fattman— are ongoing, as lawmakers attempt to reconcile the Senate and House versions of noncompete reform. Last Friday, Governor Baker’s office issued its first statement on the issue, and indicated an inclination toward the House version.

Where we have been

When Speaker DeLeo’s House unanimously passed its version, we applauded this landmark moment for reform, but pointed to a single, glaring loophole—the addition of the words “or some other consideration” to the all-important Garden Leave provision—that effectively neutered the bill’s intent: to tie mandatory compensation to the enforcement of noncompetes.

When the Senate overwhelmingly passed a bill that closed the House loophole, and went much farther, we cheered it as an indication that lawmakers were taking a momentous stand on behalf of workers, innovators, and the economy at large. However, we noted that given the distance between the two bills, the final product would likely resemble a synthesis.

Where we are now

While we continue to believe that the brightest future for Massachusetts is one without noncompetes—and that the Senate version of the bill most closely resembles that vision—we also believe that time is of the essence, and change now is imperative. Compromise is at hand, but our core tenet remains unchanged: the enforcement of a noncompete must be tied to set, mandatory compensation.

Where we are going

With the support of the Alliance for Business Leadership (ABL) and other forward-thinking business leaders, we are working with Senate and House leadership, and the Conference Committee, to ensure we seize the momentum of this legislation and create meaningful change now, this session. From the onset, we have believed that the House version of the bill– while not as sweeping or revolutionary as the Senate’s– represented such reform, as long as the loophole is eliminated. We continue to impress upon them that imperative.