End of session roundup

(History suggests there is a point after which increases in individual financial inequality and concentration of corporate power prompt a revolt. Usually when the economy stumbles. Are we there?   - promoted by Bob)

Lots to talk about today, the final day of the MA legislature’s 2007-08 session.  All business of any consequence must, under the rules, be completed by midnight tonight.  

Here’s the most important thing, before we get to the roundup: if there is a bill still pending on which you want to see action (EDR, anyone?), call your Rep, your Senator, and the Speaker’s and Senate President’s offices.  These calls really do matter.

Now, to the matters at hand:

  • Big items remaining on the agenda include the aforementioned election-day registration, the Turnpike rescue (the Senate version significantly differs from the House), a health care cost bill, and of course veto overrides.  At this point, one wonders how many overrides the legislature can realistically push through.  Each of them requires a roll-call vote in both chambers, and roll-calls are time-consuming.  With so many important bills left to consider, don’t be surprised to see a lot of pet projects left on the cutting room floor.
  • One legislator not present for all the fun is Sen. James Marzilli, against whom new charges were filed yesterday.  A clerk-magistrate decided to issue a criminal complaint based on the allegations that Middlesex DA Gerry Leone found inadequate to justify a charge.  Leone is now faced with the awkward task of deciding what to do with charges he declined to file.  But let’s get one thing clear: Leone is not the kind of guy who would shy away from charging someone just because the someone is politically connected.  If you doubt that, talk to someone who knows him before reaching your conclusion.
  • Speaking of Marzilli, I have to take issue with a false equivalence set up in Joan Vennochi’s otherwise quite interesting column in today’s Globe.  The column — which references BMG and the fact that David Guarino (Sal DiMasi’s spokesman) has been posting frequently here recently — talks about the bind in which liberals find themselves.  They (we) are generally happy with DiMasi’s highly effective championing of important priorities, like 1913, global warming, and other progressive energy legislation, as well as his late conversion to Patrick-administration priorities like closing corporate tax loopholes — while uncomfortable with the ongoing revelations about DiMasi’s ethical issues (the Herald has this new allegation about an optometry bill today).  This issue has gotten lots of attention here before; Ryan posted some reaction to Vennochi today.

    But then Vennochi veers off the rails:

    Should liberals close their eyes to problematic behavior, just as they are doing with another liberal, state Senator James Marzilli?

    Uh, excuse me?  Who, exactly, is “closing their eyes” to Marzilli’s behavior?  No one around here — I’ve called on him to resign, and other stalwart lefties on this site have done the same.  AmberPaw has talked a lot about the effects of undiagnosed mental illness, but there’s a big difference between explaining and excusing.

    In any event, though, Vennochi is right about this:

    Self-interest in the promotion of a certain ideology shouldn’t trump accountability for certain actions. If the contrast between DiMasi’s two sides ["Sal DiMasi, champion of progressive causes. Sal DiMasi, champion of insider deals."] grows sharper, it will get harder to let the speaker off the hook. At least it should.

    Much of this will play out behind closed doors, as the Rogers/DeLeo brouhaha continues to fester.  EB3 has some, well, strongly-worded thoughts on that subject.

  • This item isn’t exactly end-of-session, but it does relate to pending legislation, namely, the ballot question to ban dog racing.  It turns out that Wonderland, one of the state’s two remaining dog tracks, is the city of Revere’s biggest tax delinquent.  Wonderland owes the city nearly $800,000 in back taxes, and has been delinquent since 2006.  Yet, somehow, its liquor and other licenses kept getting renewed.  The head of the License Commission claims he had no idea that Wonderland was a tax delinquent.  Hmm.  Anyway, the city has begun foreclosure proceedings.  By the time the ballot question comes around, there may be only one functioning dog track left.

More to come, no doubt, as business moves ahead at breakneck speed on Beacon Hill.

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Thu 27 Nov 5:27 AM