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State House Hearing on Noncompete Bill Scheduled for October 7th

Posted by Scott Kirsner  September 28, 2009 07:16 AM

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The Massachusetts legislature's Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development will hold a hearing next week on the bill, submitted by Representatives Will Brownsberger and Lori Ehrlich, that could change our state's law surrounding noncompete agreements.

This bill wouldn't make noncompete agreements unenforceable, but rather would try to limit the employees to which they apply as well as their duration. (Here's a post from Brownsberger linking to some of the recent discussion about this bill in the blogospher, and here's my most recent post on the topic.)

The hearing will take place October 7th at 10:30 AM, in Room A-2 at the State House. (I'm told that testimony on another issue will be heard first, so the noncompete testimony isn't likely to start until at least 11:30 AM. But it may be challenging to get a seat after about 10:15 AM.)

Here's how you can make your voice heard:

Members of the public (that's you) are welcome to submit comments on the noncompete question. Written testimony should go to:


    Senator Thomas McGee, Chair
    Representative Cheryl Coakley-Rivera, Chair
    Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development
    State House
    Boston, MA 02133
    Cc your own state senator and state representative and Rep. Brownsberger (Room 276, State House, Boston)

If you'd like to sign up to testify in person (speakers will be limited to three minutes each), e-mail Caroline Huang at info@ProhibitRestrictiveEmploymentCovenants.net. Huang, an advocate for noncompete reform who has been working with Brownsberger, suggests sending written testimony -- whether or not you plan to be there to testify in person.

Among those who are on the list to testify are venture capitalist Bijan Sabet, who really started this discussion about changing the law surrounding noncompetes (and who would like to see them abolished entirely); MIT professor (and former speech recognition engineer) Matt Marx, who has dedicated the last few years to researching the impact of noncompete agreements on states' economies; Russell Beck from the law firm Foley & Lardner; attorney David Conforto and a client of his, Melissa Campbell; optical design consultant George Seward; attorney Robert Mantell; and Branko Gerovac, a CTO type who has worked most recently in the Internet video space.

Gerovac has been assembling some new data that he hopes to present to support his contention that noncompete agreements have made our state less competitive. You can preview the data on his blog, Empirical Reality.

Will you be at the hearing? What do you plan to say?

And if you can't make it, what would you like to say to our elected representatives who're pondering this issue?

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About Scott Kirsner

Scott Kirsner was part of the team that launched Boston.com in 1995, and has been writing a column for the Globe since 2000. His work has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, The New York Times, BusinessWeek, Newsweek, and Variety. Scott is also the author of the books "Fans, Friends & Followers" and "Inventing the Movies," was the editor of "The Convergence Guide: Life Sciences in New England," and was a contributor to "The Good City: Writers Explore 21st Century Boston." Scott also helps organize several local events on entrepreneurship, including the Nantucket Conference and Future Forward. Here's some background on how Scott decides what to cover, and how to pitch him a story idea.

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