- Selectmen updated on funding for post employment benefits
- Speaking for tolerance
- Towns adapt to sea level rise
- Millbrook Motors in non-compliance
- Good Neighbors
- Selectmen approve National Boating Week, aquaculture licenses
- A community effort
- Arts and Crafts fair a success
- Battelle to leave Duxbury
- Whale sightings at Duxbury Beach
- Lacrosse stages one for the ages
- Successful sailing season
- Depleted Dragons escape the week
- Mixed bag for lacrosse
- Tennis upsets CCA
- Softball extends winning streak
- Lacrosse readies to defend crown
- Duxbury athletes named to Winter All-Scholastics
- Boosters planning Hall of Fame Dinner
- Lady Dragons take care of Cougars
- Duxbury Weathers Hurricane Sandy
- Parent Connection Panel Discusses Teen Alcohol and Drug Use
- Annual banding of the Osprey
- Hockey check denied
- Selectmen appoint special counsel
- Who knew? Town officials stood by when Troy made statements officials considered to be inaccurate
- Keno at Hall's Corner
- Sharpshooters at Duxbury Beach
- Duxbury man charged with rape of a child
- Board of Selectmen Support all Eight CPA articles
- Duxbury Weathers Hurricane Sandy
- Parent Connection Panel Discusses Teen Alcohol and Drug Use
- SPECIAL REPORT: State ethics board eyes transcripts
- UPDATED: Duxbury serviceman killled in Afghanistan
- Duxbury attorney named to Atlantic Symphony Board
- Millbrook Motors closed
- Cruise ship manager guilty of stealing $2.4 million
- Beacon Hill Roll Call
- Annual banding of the Osprey
- Former police chief sues town
Board of Health
Council on Aging
|Beacon Hill Roll Call|
|By By Bob Katzen|
|Friday, October 16, 2009 09:35 AM|
THE HOUSE AND SENATE. Beacon Hill Roll Call records local senators' votes on two roll calls from the week of October 12-16. There were no roll calls in the House last week.
The current practice of establishing the cost to register a dog in Massachusetts is divided into two systems.
The first system is a county one under which cities and towns in the state's remaining seven counties are limited to charging $3 to register a spayed or neutered dog and $6 for an intact dog. These counties are Barnstable, Dukes, Nantucket, Suffolk, Norfolk, Bristol and Plymouth.
The cities and towns under the county system also have the option of moving from that system to an individual one under which they are allowed to charge any amount of money to register a dog. There is no cap on the fee for municipalities in the individual system.
Many county system communities over the years have opted to move into the individual system with no cap. Some communities have remained in the $3/$6 maximum county system. There is no accurate information currently available that shows how many cities and towns have stayed in the county system.
Manny Maciel, president of the Animal Control Officers Association of Massachusetts, estimates that 280 communities have opted out of the county system. That would leave 81 that remain in it. Others involved in the debate contend that a majority (at least 181) of the state's 361 communities are still in the county system.
The Senate last week debated a bill that makes several changes in the state's animal control laws.
The proposed legislation includes a section that would effectively shut down the county system of dog registration and move the communities that were in that system into the individual one.
The bill would also establish a new $35 cap to register a spayed or neutered dog and $50 for an intact dog in all 361 communities in the individual system.
Supporters of the $35/$50 cap argued that it is fiscally responsible because currently there is no cap on communities in the individual system.
Opponents of the $35/$50 cap said that it is misleading and is in fact a fee hike because it will also apply to the communities that were previously in the county system with the $3/$6 cap but under the bill are moved into the individual system.
Supporters of the $35/$50 cap counter that for years those communities in the county system could have moved to the uncapped individual system at any time. They argued that the bill in fact puts all 361 communities under a $35/$50 cap bill instead of the present system that has some communities with a $3/$6 cap and others with no cap at all.
Opponents of the $35/$50 cap said that supporters are using smoke and mirrors to hide a fee increase. They noted that moving some communities from a system with a $3/$6 cap into a system with a $35/$50 cap is clearly a fee hike.
These opponents proposed an amendment that they said would eliminate the new $35/$50 fee and go back to the system under which some communities have the $3/$6 cap and others have no cap.
They argued that the outrageous hike to $35/$60 is unfair and unaffordable by pet owners who are fighting for their economic lives during the recession. They noted that many of these people have lost their jobs and their homes and all of them are paying the recent hike in the sales tax from five to 6.25 percent.
Supporters of the $35/$50 cap argued that the amendment is poorly drafted and in fact actually reduces the registration fee cap for all 361 cities and towns to $3/$6. They said that this would result in a substantial and unaffordable loss of revenue for dozens of cities and towns.
Beacon Hill Roll Call's reading of the amendment supports the idea that it reduces all 361 communities' cap to $3/$6.
Here is the roll call on that amendment:
DOG LICENSING FEES (S 2172)
Senate 6-27, rejected the amendment that proponents of it said would eliminate the new single system $35/$50 fee and go back to the dual system under which some communities are under the $3/$6 cap and others are under no cap.
Supporters of the $35/$60 cap for all communities said that the amendment is poorly drafted and in fact establishes an inadequate $3/$6 cap for all 361 communities.
(A Yes" vote is for the amendment. A "No" vote is against the amendment).
Sen. Robert Hedlund, Yes
RULES FOR KAYAKING (S 974)
Senate 29-4, gave near final approval to and sent to the House a bill that would require any person aboard a kayak to wear a Coast Guard-approved personal flotation device (PFD). The measure also gives the state's Department of Fisheries and Wildlife the power to mandate that other safety equipment be aboard. Other provisions require that kayak instructors receive certification as an instructor from the American Canoe Association or American Red Cross and also take first aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) training.
Supporters said that present law is too loose and does not sufficiently regulate kayaks. They noted that currently Massachusetts requires that PFD be worn on kayaks only from September 15 to May 15. Some cited the recent case of two kayakers who were lost because they had insufficient safety equipment on board.
Opponents said that the bill goes too far and gives excesive power to the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife to set all kinds of rules about kayaking. They argued that the Legislature itself should study the situation and then establish any new safety rules.
(A "Yes" vote is for the bill. A "No" vote is against the bill).
Sen. Robert Hedlund, No
ALSO UP ON BEACON HILL
MORE BUDGET CUTS TO COME - Gov. Deval Patrick announced his plans for a cut of $600 million in spending during the current fiscal year 2010 that ends in July. He said that this would help close the widening budget deficit as state tax revenues continue to plummet.
Patrick said that the savings would be accomplished by cutting millions of dollars out of state programs; eliminating more than 2,000 state jobs; requiring all state Executive Branch Managers to take up to nine furlough days, depending on their salary levels; consolidating state agencies; imposing centralized energy purchasing that would reduce state energy costs and calling on unions to work with the governor to identify ways that union employees can mitigate layoffs and continue to provide vital services.
Patrick will also ask the Legislature to grant him additional powers so that he can cut local aid if absolutely necessary.
ALLOW BIDDING NOTICES TO BE POSTED ON WEBSITES - The State Administration Committee held a hearing on legislation that would allow notices soliciting bids from companies seeking contracts to work on local city, town and county projects to be posted only on the local community's website or the state website. Current law requires that the notices be published in local newspapers.
The Patrick administration says that the change would save the state time and money and ensure that projects move forward faster. Critics say that the change would hurt many newspapers that are already struggling. They argued that this new policy is unfair and decreases openness and transparency because not every business and individual has Internet access.
Other proposals being considered by the committee would require any public or private organization that receives state funding to indicate that fact on its official letterhead (S 1471); mandate that any state agency that receives applications for state funding ensure that there is a diverse pool of individuals to evaluate the proposals including persons who are in the same demographics of the population to be served (H 3038) and exempt any vehicles driven by public college employess from all state college parking fees (H 3045).
MENTAL RETARDATION - The Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities held a hearing on legislation eliminating the words "mental retardation" from the state's law books and replacing them with the words "developmental disabilities" (H 176). The Legislature last year changed the name of the Department of Mental Retardation to the Department of Developmental Services.
Supporters said that it is time to remove this outdated phrase from the state's laws. They argued that the words stigmatize people and said that their removal would have a positive impact on countless people's lives.
JAYWALKING - The Transportation Committee held a hearing on legislation that would allow cities and towns to opt into a tougher new law banning jaywalking (H 4022). Offenders would be fined $25 for a first offense and up to $100 for a second or subsequent offense.
Other measures being considered by the committee include allowing right turns on red lights at all intersections (H 3173) and creating a "Donâ€™t Text and Drive" fund to alert drivers of the dangers of text messaging while operating a vehicle. The program would be funded by a voluntary donation from any companies that sell cell phones in the state.
BAN CAMPAIGN SIGNS FROM PUBLIC PROPERTY - The Election Laws Committee held a hearing on several measures including prohibiting political signs from being placed on tax-exempt local, state and federal property and property owned by a non-profit (S 343); requiring that anyone appointed as a judge close any campaign account that he or she might have had when running for office (S 337) and prohibiting any group or person from registering a website that "could be identified as the site of another person who is an elected official, or a candidate or potential candidate for elective office" (H 557). Offenders would be given up to a six-month prison sentence or pay a $1,000 fine.
LEGALIZE AND TAX MARIJUANA - The Revenue Committee held a hearing on bills that would legalize marijuana and allowing adults over 21 to grow it for their personal use and the use by others over 21 years of age. (S 1801). The measure also creates a Cannabis Control Authority, similar to the Alcohol Beverages Commission to oversee and regulate the marijuana industry. Marijuana would be taxed from $150 to $250 per ounce at the retail level - depending on its quality.
Other measures that were part of the hearing would provide up to a $1,500 tax credit to drivers who voluntarily, without a court order, install an ignition interlock device that prevents a vehicle from starting if it detects a blood alcohol concentration over a limit of .02 (H 2885) and allowing the state to take 2.5 percent of the face value of each ticket sold by the Red Sox, Celtics, Patriots, Bruins and Revolution and distribute them to public schools school sports programs (H 3748).
QUOTABLE QUOTES - Special $600 million deficit edition.
"There are some things we do in state government that are important that we are not going to be able to do anymore."
â€“â€“ Gov. Deval Patrick
"Gov. Patrick's Fiscal Management Plan fails to include such basic actions as a state hiring freeze, a state wage freeze, any managed care reform, or a repeal of the anti-privatization law that is costing the state's taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars a year."
â€“â€“ Senate Minority Leader Richard R. Tisei (R-Wakefield)
"I am flattered that his (Patrick's) fiscal crisis management plan includes so many Republican proposals that were offered back in April during budget debate including; expediting the sale of surplus state land, personnel reductions and requiring furloughs."
â€“â€“ House Republican Minority Leader Bradley Jones (R-North Reading).
"It's painful, it's very painful, and you know these people, you can see their faces, you know their families. It'll be devastating."
â€“â€“ Senate President Therese Murray (D-Plymouth)