- Associated Press - Wednesday, June 1, 2016

BOSTON (AP) - The Latest on a Massachusetts bill to prohibit discrimination against transgender people in public accommodations (all times local):

6:05 p.m.

The Massachusetts House has overwhelmingly approved a bill that would bar discrimination agasint transgender individuals in public accommodations and allow them to use bathrooms and locker rooms that correspond with the gender they identify with.

The 116-36 vote came after six hours of debate in the Democratic-controlled House and one day after Republican Gov. Charlie Baker announced he would sign the House version of the measure if it reached his desk.

The House bill includes language - not in a version passed earlier by the Senate - that seeks to punish “improper” claims of gender identity.

Critics of the bill have suggested that sexual predators could make false claims to gain access to women’s restrooms or locker rooms.

Hundreds of people for and against the bill crowded the Statehouse to hear the debate.

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2:05 p.m.

The Massachusetts House is debating a transgender rights bill that Democratic leaders expect to be passed and Republican Gov. Charlie Baker has promised to sign if it reaches his desk.

The atmosphere was highly charged Wednesday at the Statehouse, where hundreds of people for and against the bill were gathered.

The bill would expand existing protections for transgender people to public accommodations and allow them to use the restroom or locker room that matches their gender identity.

Rep. John Fernandes, a Milford Democrat who presided over hearings on the bill, urged his colleagues to put aside fear and emotion, consider the facts and vote in favor of the measure.

Rep. Marc Lombardo, a Billerica Republican, argued it would put the safety of children in restrooms and locker rooms at risk.

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12:45 p.m.

The Massachusetts House is considering a transgender rights bill that Democratic leaders expect to pass, and Republican Gov. Charlie Baker has promised to sign if it reaches his desk.

Debate began shortly before noon Wednesday with Rep. John Fernandes, a Milford Democrat who presided over hearings on the bill, urging colleagues to put aside fear and emotion, consider the facts and vote for the measure.

The bill would expand existing protections for transgender people to public accommodations, including restaurants and malls, and allow people to use restrooms and locker rooms that match their gender identity.

The House proposal includes language that seeks to prohibit “improper” claims of gender identity. Critics of the bill have suggested that sexual predators could make false claims to gain access to private areas for women.

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12:25 a.m.

House leaders are predicting passage of a transgender rights bill that Republican Gov. Charlie Baker is promising to sign if it reaches his desk.

The Democratic-controlled House is expected to debate and vote Wednesday on the bill, which would bar discrimination against transgender people in public accommodations, including restrooms and locker rooms.

The House version includes a provision calling for penalties against anyone who makes an “improper” claim of gender identity. Critics of the bill have argued that male sexual predators could falsely claim gender identity to access women’s bathrooms or locker rooms.

Baker announced Tuesday he would sign the bill if the language in the House bill is included when it reaches his desk. The language was not part of a bill passed earlier by the state Senate.

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