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Patrick to push for ban on non-compete deals

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BOSTON (AP) — Gov. Deval Patrick praised an economic development bill proposed by Democratic House leaders but said Friday he planned to urge lawmakers to restore a provision that would discourage non-compete agreements in the private sector.

Patrick had proposed eliminating the agreements which restrict workers at cutting-edge technology firms from quitting their jobs and taking their knowledge to other companies, saying they stifle competition. He instead sought to beef up trade secret protections.

"This is an issue that we didn't dream up," Patrick said. "It came to us directly from the tech community."

Speaker Robert DeLeo, D-Winthrop, did not include the language to eliminate non-competes in the legislation he and other House lawmakers introduced earlier this week. The bill, which has yet to go to the House floor, would focus more state investment on computer education, startup technology firms and affordable housing.

Supporters of non-compete clauses said employers who spend money training and educating employees have legitimate concerns if an employee then opts to work for a competitor.

Though "delighted" in general with the House economic development bill, Patrick said he would continue to meet with legislators to urge them to include the language on non-competes along with the companion proposal to implement the Uniform Trade Secrets Act in Massachusetts.

"I do want to be clear that nobody is talking about a license to carry intellectual property from one company to another," the governor said.

Patrick met with reporters on Friday one day after returning from a nine-day trade mission to Israel and the United Arab Emirates that he described as demanding but productive.

He also had praise for a wide-ranging gun control bill that was recently unveiled by House leaders, saying it reflected many of the proposals made by his administration in recent years. But he noted the bill did not include a proposal to bar individuals from purchasing more than one gun in a single month.

He said a one gun per month clause could help address the problem of guns being legally purchased in bulk and then distributed through illegal channels.

Also Friday, Patrick described as "careful and thoughtful" a decision by the state parole board to grant parole to a man who had been imprisoned since age 17 on a first-degree murder charge for his role in a deadly 1994 robbery. Frederick Christian was the first inmate in Massachusetts to be granted such a ruling since the state's highest court struck down life sentences without the possibility of parole for juveniles.

Patrick noted the parole board decision came with several conditions that Christian must meet before his release.

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