June 2011
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Month June 2011

Restoring Our Commitment to Democracy

by Bob Massie, Democratic Candidate for the United States Senate “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” These 45 simple words are the bedrock of our free society. They have not changed since the Bill of Rights’ ratification in 1793. In the past year, however, they have suffered a series of perverse interpretations by the Roberts Court that threaten to dismantle our democracy, brick by brick. Just last week, the Supreme Court of the United States struck down an Arizona law that grants more money to publicly funded candidates who run against privately funded candidates with deeper pockets. It is the fifth campaign finance decision by the Roberts Court that benefits the powerful over the people. Citizens United undid more than a century of campaign finance law, equating corporations as people worthy of free speech under the First Amendment. Under this latest decision over Arizona law, the Supreme Court is also telling us more money permits more speech. Read those 45 words […]

Why would Scott Brown filibuster his own bill?

In the annals of bizarre Senatorial behavior, this has to be right up there (if you don’t count Larry Craig and David Vitter, that is).  HT to HesterPrynne for calling this to everyone’s attention. Scott Brown (along with John Kerry, 4 other Democrats, and 2 other Republicans – actual bipartisanship!) is a co-sponsor of S. 493, the “SBIR/STTR Reauthorization Act of 2011,” known on the House side as “The Creating Jobs Through Small Business Innovation Act of 2011.”  According to the NIH’s legislative office, S. 493 would reauthorize the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer Programs (STTR) for 8 years; increase the SBIR set aside to 3.5 percent over 10 years and increase the STTR set aside to 0.6 percent over six years; and allow small business concerns majority-owned and controlled by venture capital firms to be eligible for up to 25 percent of the SBIR funds. Some fairly technical stuff, but basically, this is a jobs bill.  It’s also one that seems especially likely to benefit Massachusetts, as both the SBIR and STTR programs “help fund small innovative companies on the brink of new technologies and discoveries” – exactly the kinds of companies that we have […]

Attention Dan Winslow, Care to Debate…

the pros and cons of your ethics reforms and my suggestions? It could help clear things up. I’ll be fair. Argue the facts. No name calling. C’mon. Let’s give it a go. Right here on BMG. You can cross post on RMG if you like.  

MASSterList: Still no budget! – Health care proposals – Bastien wants fireworks – Trouble for Lantigua in possible recall

WHUDGET?: It’s the end of June! That means there must be a shiny new budget all done and ready for the governor’s signature, right? No. No, it does not mean that (Globe). Get angry, Salem News! Keller wants to know why sausage takes so long to make. (WBZ) HEALTH CARE: In health care news, the Ledger looks at the long road ahead, WBUR reports on a proposal to freeze premiums, Sen. Timilty gets yells at (Sun Chron.) and Charlie Baker finds himself on a new board (MHT) BOOM: Known bottle rocket enthusiast Rep. Rich Bastien stares New Hampshire in the eye and demands legal fireworks in Mass. (WWLP) LANTIGUA WATCH: Uh-oh, Willie. (Eagle Trib.) SPEECH: Dan Kennedy brings you the 14th Annual Muzzle Awards! SHERIFF K’S BAD DAY: Fox25 won’t leave Peter Koutoujian alone. Read the rest of the MASSterList, including the Mitt Monitor, today’s legislative headlines, transportation news, new health care headlines, today’s Best of the Blogs and more by signing up for daily email alerts.  

What would you ask Setti Warren?

Your humble editors are looking forward to sitting down with MA-Sen candidate Setti Warren tomorrow over lunch, and we’re wondering what you’d like to know.  Drop your questions in the comments, and we’ll bring back as many answers as we can. Also, here’s a general question about events like this: if we post audio of relevant parts of the conversation, would you listen?  Or is a write-up better?

Join Us in Calling For A Freeze on Health Care Cost Increases. Noon Rally – State House Steps.

Today, HCFA and GBIO are issuing a challenge to insurers to freeze health premiums for one year or until a meaningful long-term cost containment solution is reached, and urged all stakeholders – doctors and hospitals, government, insurers, business and consumers -to do their part to reduce health costs in the Commonwealth. Join us to rally to call for a time out on premium increases today at noon, in front of the State House. Sign our Petition. And join our challenge. Globe story. WBUR report. As we passed health reform, health care cost control demands shared responsibility. HCFA and GBIO are issuing the following challenges: insurers – Deliver relief to policy holders and keep health insurance premiums level for 2012, without reducing benefit packages or increasing patient out of pocket costs. hospitals and doctors- Reduce costs by promoting integrated care, prevention and wellness, and end wasteful and inefficient treatments. If necessary, re-open existing contracts with insurers to end unjustified price increases. government-Enact comprehensive reform of the health care payment and delivery system, and lead by example to move state employees, as well as MassHealth and Commonwealth Care members into alternative payment arrangements with providers by 2013. employers- Join individual consumers in […]

A table showing lobbyist requirements for all 50 states

The link:  http://www.ncsl.org/?tabid=15363 One of your tech types could probably insert it.  What I found of the greatest interest is that Massachusetts already requires, and creates photo IDs for every registered lobbyist.  What is the big deal about popping that photo ID into a lapel holder, or clip on holder, and wearing it visibly when such a paid, professional lobbyist is n a state owned or rented building – included but not limited to the State House?  I would find that helpful and cannot see why anyone would find that “insulting”.  Why?  I remember faces easily but really have to work at it to remember names. Plus, lobbyists are paid to influence government decisions.  Why not wear those state-created IDs as a mark of pride, of membership in a hard working and well paid guild, which lobbyists are at any event? One more thing – every special education school, most employers, already require such badges – and visitors to wear clip on badges for many of the same reasons it makes sense to have lobbyists display their state-issued lobbyist registration ID cards.  Many states already do.  Just review that lovely and instructive table.  

Ethics Schmethics – Reverend Tony Cardinale

So I’m reading through these new ethics proposals by house repubs and I can’t help thinking that these guys are not only stupid they’re phonies. Stupid? yes stupid. One proposal forbids reps from contacting state agencies regarding pending contracts. For instance. If you think the MBTA commuter rail line is not living up to the terms of the contract the provider has with the T, then don’t complain to your rep when the same company is up for renewal. Instead you have to track down some faceless bureaucrat who isn’t elected and reports to some other nameless stiff. You’re on your own. The rep can’t even send a letter to the MBTA saying poor Charley Blandy had to wait and wait for a train to see the Bruins’ rolling rally. Suppose you have a severely handicapped child that recieves state services from a company under contract. Very common. Well don’t tell your state rep how you feel about the company. He  can’t say anything. Imagine that. Make the it more secretive because Sal had a scheme. It violates democratic principles. If you can’t call your rep who can you call. And your rep should be able to call any agency […]

Please join me for a Twitter Townhall

At the beginning of June, I returned from an official congressional delegation trip to Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Kuwait.  Our delegation also stopped in Germany to visit our wounded heroes being treated at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center.  Tomorrow, Thursday, June 30th, from 9:00-10:00 AM, I will be hosting a Twitter townhall to answer questions about the trip and to share my observations.  If you would like to participate, please send questions via direct message or #AskBill. I hope you can join me to discuss this important topic.  If not, I wish you and your families a happy and safe Fourth of July weekend. Sincerely, Bill Keating Member of Congress

Scott Brown Votes to Kill Jobs Bill

Scott Brown along with all of his Republican buddies voted to play politics rather than fighting for jobs and voted to filibuster a re-authorization of long standing jobs bill, one that was created in 1965. A jobs bill that has benefited Republican and Democratic Presidents and had maintained long standing tradition of bi-partisan support. The Economic Development Revitalization Act of 2011, was supported out if committee by Chair Barbara Boxer and Ranking Republican Jim Inhofe. Some details of the bill (pdf): * For nearly fifty years, the Economic Development Administration (EDA) has helped to create jobs and spur growth in economically hard-hit communities nationwide. * Reauthorization of the EDA will help ensure that the agency is able to continue creating jobs and investing in distressed communities. * Since 2005, the EDA has awarded more than $1.2 billion in grants to hundreds of communities nationwide – investments that are expected to create more than 314,000 jobs. * Every $1 dollar in EDA grant funding is expected to leverage nearly $7 dollars worth of private investment. * S. 782 makes changes to the EDA that will: increase flexibility for grantees; lower threshold requirements for grantees to receive an increased federal share; and, […]