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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Desperately seeking Beacon Hill

It's Feb. 24. Do you know where your state Legislature is? On vacation.

The State of the State has been stated. The budget presented. Almost two full months into the election year-shortened schedule -- and one month after those two benchmarks -- and the Great and General Court has enacted 32 session laws. An accomplishment? If you are a community looking to create liquor licenses or set up a voting precinct, you bet. If not, meh.

Members of the ways and means committee from both branches are fanning out across the state, holding hearings on the budget while the unsung worker bee analysts on these committees are burning the midnight oil.

But the members, not so much. Maybe they are hunkered down, awaiting the bombshells expected to emerge from Worcester after imprisoned former Speaker Sal DiMasi tells what he knows about the probation department's hiring practices.

Like the promotions struck down by a Superior Court judge as invalid.

And we are told that lawmakers are finally "close" to an agreement on a sentencing reform bill they have been haggling about for months.

Meanwhile, the elephant in the room, the $161 million MBTA deficit, its strangling debt and how to deal with it in a way that's equitable from Provincetown to Pittsfield has drawn virtual silence from Deval Patrick on down.

Legislative bodies tend to act best when faced with a deadline. Just look at Congress. OK, bad example.

Actually it's a pretty good one. Act in haste, repent (or attack) in leisure isn't the best way to deal with the challenges we face as a state and nation.

Tick, tock.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually in the past two months the Legislature has adopted a number of significant bills. There was the sweeping overhaul of the state's Educational Collaboratives, enacted in swift response to the alleged misuse of funds at a Merrimack Valley organization. That was sent to the Governor's desk yesterday. Then there was a $150 million supplemental budget that included significant restorations for low-income heating assistance and day health services for Masshealth members. That was signed by the Governor last week. There was the freeze on unemployment insurance rates, that saved businesses over $400 million. That was enacted this year. And in the individual branches, this year the Senate has already passed significant legislation dealing with prescription drug abuse and storm response plans by utilities. The House just passed a 150 page bill reforming state finance law. All of this in the first 6 weeks of the year. As for the two issues you mention, the budget and the MBTA, there is a public hearing process in place that rightly precedes any action by the Legislature. So, while I know it is easy to attack the Legislature as "lazy" or "scared" because of the probation investigation, the actual facts do not hold that to be true.

February 24, 2012 8:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe they could do somthing about the Rule 28 Coalition. The house members can bring to the floor bills that the corrupt leaders of the house just let sit in commitee, maybe waiting for the bribes to go up. Just get the bills to the floor, then members can vote however they want. Then we won't have 4(5) speakers of the house indicted because their power goes to their head.

February 24, 2012 9:04 AM  

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