Who Do Massachusetts State Legislators Think They Are?

Printed from: https://newbostonpost.com/2022/02/22/who-do-massachusetts-state-legislators-think-they-are/

The Massachusetts State House re-opened – if that’s what you call it – to the public today. All’s you need is a vaccine passport or evidence of a negative coronavirus test within the last 24 hours to enter what in theory is the People’s House.

Even Michelle Wu, the totalitarian-visionary mayor of Boston, caved on requiring proof of vaccination to enter restaurants, bars, and health clubs in the Hub of the Universe. The nutty idea was so untenable under her so-called “metrics” of the virus that she dropped it Friday, February 18.

How nutty was it?

Not even Somerville and Cambridge went along.

Yet there go the leaders of the Massachusetts House and Senate, who kept the State House closed needlessly long after every state in the union except Hawaii had opened theirs, tacking on an absurd and intrusive requirement to enter the august domain they temporarily administer.

The coronavirus vaccine famously doesn’t prevent the Omicron variant of coronavirus. It may – emphasis on “may” – prevent some people who get the virus from being as hard hit as they would have been otherwise.

In other words:  It’s a purely personal health care decision.

But it’s not a private health care decision – not if you want to enter the Massachusetts State House and try to talk to your state legislator face to face. You have to disclose your vaccination status to a stranger. And if you’re not vaccinated, good luck getting that coronavirus test and rapid results in just the right timeframe.

If you were to make it past the Praetorian Guard, one of the questions you might want to ask your state legislator is:  How did you vote on such-and-such a bill?

Because it’s not always obvious. Here’s an example.

Five years ago, NewBostonPost predicted a problem with driving while stoned, shortly after the new law legalizing marijuana took effect. Now, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker is pushing a drugged-driving bill that would help police detect and prove intoxication from marijuana.

The Legislature’s Joint Committee on the Judiciary junked the bill earlier this month. Which state representatives voted to kill that bill (and others) by sending it to “study”?

Well, the House co-chairman of the committee, when asked by State House News Service, “only provided a number of votes in the affirmative and declined to identify who cast them.” He cited “the House rules proposal.”

Imagine that.  You’re an elected state representative sitting on a committee with life-or-death power over a bill that somebody spent time and care putting together and filing. Not only can you vote to kill a bill – no one need know how you voted.

You’re getting $70,530 a year in public funds for a job that allows a different full-time job to be done at the same time, with potential add-ons that can push the take-home pay into six figures, with a potential healthy pension if you stick around long enough …

And no one need know how you voted on a committee?

Why should the voters have confidence in you?

Nor is making votes public the only concern.

How about written testimony submitted to a legislative committee?

In Connecticut, the legislative committee provides a link on its web site offering all the documents the committee received.

In Massachusetts, the documents aren’t public and aren’t provided.

This is what state legislators with a straight face call a “public hearing”:  Spoken comments are public; written comments are private.

These practices are poor. They thrive in an environment where no state legislative leader fears the other legislators and no state legislator fears the voters.

 

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