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Credit: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

Massachusetts lawmakers are considering a proposal that would extend anti-discrimination laws to venture capital investment decisions.

Why it matters: The goal is to increase the pitiful percentage of VC dollars disbursed to women and minority-led startups, which often are hampered by systemic "pattern matching" and "old boy networks" within the white male-dominated industry.

  • Laws against discriminating on the basis of gender or race already are on the Massachusetts books when it comes to employment, including within VC firms, but not when it comes to investments.
  • Yes, this is exactly as thorny as it sounds, perhaps proving that the road to headaches are paved with good intentions. In short: How would founders prove they didn't get an investment because of gender or racial discrimination, save for some sort of smoking gun? So many VC deals are more about gut feeling than anything else, with investors turning down the vast majority of opportunities.
  • Perhaps plaintiffs could make their case via statistical percentages, aided by discovery, but it's hard to imagine a startup founder wanting to spend her valuable time, resources and reputation on such an endeavor.
    • It also could raise the legal liabilities for Massachusetts VC firms, thus making LPs less likely to fund the local ecosystem.
    • A local VC trade group also argues that the law could make VC firms less likely to take meetings with female and minority founders, for fear of being sued if they don't do the deal. But that seems fairly remote ⁠— again because it's not likely in a founder's interest to sue, save for explicit cause, and because not taking the meeting could open up the same potential liability.

The proposal also would extend anti-sexual harassment rules to investor-founder interactions, which is a much more sensible policy and one that was recently applied in California.

Go deeper

Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Senate action on stimulus bill continues as Dems reach deal on jobless aid

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Democratic leaders struck an agreement with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) on emergency unemployment insurance late Friday, clearing the way for Senate action on President Biden's $1.9 trillion stimulus package to resume after an hours-long delay.

The state of play: The Senate will now work through votes on a series of amendments that are expected to last overnight into early Saturday morning.

Capitol review panel recommends more police, mobile fencing

Photo: Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

A panel appointed by Congress to review security measures at the Capitol is recommending several changes, including mobile fencing and a bigger Capitol police force, to safeguard the area after a riotous mob breached the building on Jan. 6.

Why it matters: Law enforcement officials have warned there could be new plots to attack the area and target lawmakers, including during a speech President Biden is expected to give to a joint session of Congress.

Financial fallout from the Texas deep freeze

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Texas has thawed out after an Arctic freeze last month threw the state into a power crisis. But the financial turmoil from power grid shock is just starting to take shape.

Why it matters: In total, electricity companies are billions of dollars short on the post-storm payments they now owe to the state's grid operator. There's no clear path for how they will pay — something being watched closely across the country as extreme weather events become more common.