Tuesday, November 8, 2005
The Final Days (aka, "Strategic
To: Members of the General Court
November 8, 2005
Re: The Final Days (aka, "Strategic Chaos")
As you again rush toward what Senator Travaglini’s
office calls "the Thanksgiving break" –– which we understand will last
until January –– we urge you to adopt a Legislative Hippocratic oath:
"First, do no harm."
Having waited all year to address vital issues, you are now in the
"final days" – the strategic chaos that will have you continuing to
pass conference committee bills you haven’t even read, that may or may
not contain the items you already voted on.
We’d comment on the newest Senate version of the "kill the initiative
petition bill" that was amended last week –– but no one can tell us
what the "further amendment" was: do you know what it says? The Senate
Journal for last week isn’t yet on line. We’ve read various accounts,
including that you will now forbid paid petitioners, which is clearly
unconstitutional. Senator Augustus’ office won’t tell us what his most
"further amendment" is. So whatever it is, we oppose it on principle.
We recognize that the leadership doesn’t want us – or your
constituents in general – to know what is going on up there, which is
why everything was left to the last minute. This strategic chaos also
increases their control over –– you –– and your own favored
We support health care reform, but have no way of knowing in time what
will eventually come out of a conference committee; in the midst of
this strategic chaos, things can get added and subtracted in violation
of legislative rules. We support the part of senior tax relief that
increases the value of homes to determine eligibility for the circuit
breaker, and lowering the interest rate for deferral of property
taxes. But we have no way of knowing what the final bill, in the midst
of this chaos, will look like. We still oppose excluding seniors from
With state revenues rising, we want the income tax rollback to begin
rolling again now; but our bill to do this is scheduled to be heard on
November 15th, the day before you leave for "the Thanksgiving break."
Right now, the clearest message we have is that to allow a retroactive
capital gains tax increase is fiscally disastrous, sending a message
to investors nationwide that the Massachusetts Legislature has lost
its collective mind – something which we ourselves always suspect
during the frenetic final days of every legislative session.