Massachusetts State Legislature Committee Backs Bill to Form Commission on Nuclear Weapons Threat

Protesters demand abolition of nuclear weapons, Raytheon Cambridge facility, January 2021
Protesters demand abolition of nuclear weapons, Raytheon Cambridge facility, January 2021

May 6, Boston — On Wednesday, May 4, the Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security in the Massachusetts State House voted favorably on Resolve H.3688 / S.1555. Providing for an Investigation and Study by Special Commission Relative to the Existential Threat Posed by Nuclear Weapons to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

On the day before this vote, Tuesday May 3rd, a poll revealed that 63% of Massachusetts adults – including 80% of those who identify as Democrats – support the establishment of a Citizens’ Commission to investigate and report on what measures may be necessary and appropriate to protect Massachusetts citizens from nuclear weapons. Only 16% say they do not support such a commission, and the remaining 21% are undecided.

The poll also reveals, in the context of recent nuclear threats made by Vladimir Putin and talks of nuclear escalation in Ukraine, that 65% of Massachusetts adults are either “somewhat concerned” (43%) or “very concerned” (22%) about the possibility of a nuclear war taking place in their lifetime. Additionally, it found that 51% of Massachusetts adults and 76% of Massachusetts Democrats think that the US should work with the other nuclear armed countries to eliminate all nuclear weapons from all countries.

The favorable vote on this bill comes at a time when other states across the country are taking similar legislative actions. On the day before this vote, Tuesday May 3rd, the Rhode Island Senate adopted a resolution urging the federal government to pursue a broad range of measures to reduce the danger of nuclear war, to sign and ratify the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), to make nuclear disarmament the centerpiece of U.S. national security policy, and to spearhead a global effort to prevent nuclear war. The resolution was passed by a vote of 32-4.

The growing concern about nuclear war is reflected in the number of related bills and resolutions which have been put to the State House in Boston in recent years.

This bill was initially introduced in 2019 by State Representative Lindsay Sabadosa of Northampton and State Senator Jo Comerford, representing Hampshire, Franklin and Worcester District.