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Sunday, November 17, 2019

Catching Up With Recent
Beacon Hill Roll Call's


Chip Ford's CLT Commentary

I thought you might find catching up with all this interesting, as we await the fate of Proposition 2½ this week.

Back in 1996 CLT invited me to merge my former decade-old organization, Freedom First (which focused on limiting government overreach) with them, primarily due to our overlapping membership, common interests, and grassroots effectiveness.  Barbara Anderson and I became co-directors of Citizens for Limited Taxation & Government (CLT&G).  Note that our website domain and e-mail addresses still reflect the merger from that time, when I established CLT's first Internet presence:  CLTG.ORG — one of the earliest grassroots websites.  We subsequently decided to revert the organization's name back to simply Citizens for Limited Taxation, but you still can't limit taxation without limiting government and vice versa and limiting both are desirable.

In my commentary for yesterday's CLT Update I mentioned that the Legislature has "preoccupied itself with irrelevant and whimsical feel-good bills."  I said that because these are bread-and-circus distractions, busy-work for meddling senators and representatives who have little if any input or impact on the serious policy decisions that take place in secret, behind closed doors, dictated by a handful in leadership.

Nonetheless, these nuisance distractions from so many legislators with far too much time on their hands take an accumulated toll on the citizens of Massachusetts a state once known long ago as "The Cradle of Liberty."  When asked for a comment on such unwelcomed distractions from a Legislature that never ends, someone needs to remind those citizens, and legislators elected by them, of our proud heritage of independence.  Somehow I usually seem to be given the last word.

Chip Ford
Executive Director



Beacon Hill Roll Call
Volume 44 - Report No. 43
October 21-25, 2019
By Bob Katzen


PRIMARY ENFORCEMENT OF THE SEAT BELT LAW (H 2126/S 1407) The Public Safety Committee heard testimony on a bill that would allow police officers to issue tickets for seat belt violations even if the driver is not stopped for another violation as required under current law.

Other provisions prevent officers from searching the vehicle or occupants solely because of the seat belt violation and prohibit a seat belt violation from resulting in a surcharge on motor vehicle insurance premiums.

The fine for drivers and passengers over the age of 16 who violate the law would be increased from $25 to $50. The current additional $25 fine on the driver for each passenger between the ages of 12 and 16 who is not wearing a seatbelt would also rise to $50.

"Seat belts save lives,” said Sen. Paul Feeney (D-Foxborough), the sponsor of the Senate version of the bill who credits seat belts for saving his life and his wife’s life following an accident in 1999. “That's it, it's simple. They save lives, we know that. We know that in Massachusetts when people buckle up, the accidents that may occur, the fatalities, are less, that serious injuries are lessened because of seat belt use. We know it works."

“Seat belts promote safety, save lives and save money,” said Rep. Jeffrey Roy (D-Franklin), the House sponsor of the proposal. “We could save 45 lives, prevent 500 injuries, and save $525 million over five years with a primary seat belt law in effect. According to a recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine, the single greatest opportunity to improve health and reduce premature deaths lies in personal behavior, and seat belt use is yet another form of impaired driving that must be addressed. Massachusetts ranks 46th in the nation in seat belt use, lagging the national rate by nearly 10 percent, reinforcing the need for this legislation.”

“From 1984 through 1993 opposing mandatory seat belt laws before the Public Safety Committee was an annual rite of spring, despite our repealing the first law resoundingly on the 1986 ballot,” said Chip Ford, Executive Director of Citizens for Limited Taxation, and twice chairman of The Committee to Repeal the Mandatory Seat Belt Law ballot question committees. “Finally, on a vague and confusing 1994 ballot, with nine questions, just titles and no summaries or explanations so as to make room for all nine, the majority cast a ‘yes’ vote, many later acknowledging they thought a ‘yes’ vote was to repeal the law, when in fact a ‘no’ vote was necessary. As we warned in our two repeal campaigns over a decade, ‘secondary enforcement’ was just to get a foot in the door. The camel has been squeezing itself inside the tent ever since, proving we were right the nanny state is never satisfied.”

Beacon Hill Roll Call
Volume 44 - Report No. 45
November 4-8, 2019
By Bob Katzen


PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES MUST RELEASE TAX RETURNS (S 383) The Election Laws Committee held a hearing on legislation that would require any candidate or potential candidate for the office of president of the United States whose name is set to appear on the Massachusetts presidential primary to release copies of his or her federal income tax returns from the most recent three years by December 31 of the year before the primary is held. Another provision requires each candidate to release a statement of financial interests for the preceding calendar year.

The tax returns and statement of financial interest would be posted on the secretary of state’s website. Any candidates who fail to provide this information will not be eligible to appear on the ballot.

Similar legislation has been filed in several other states. These bills have been filed as a response to President Donald Trump’s refusal to release his tax returns during the 2016 campaign.

“My bill … would require candidates for president to disclose their recent tax returns in order to appear on the ballot in Massachusetts,” said Sen. Mike Barrett (D-Lexington.) “Requiring disclosure of recent tax returns advances the values of transparency and integrity.”

“California already passed a similar law, which was struck down last month by U.S. District Judge Morrison England who found four separate reasons why the law failed,” said Chip Ford, Executive Director of Citizens for Limited Taxation. “He issued a written opinion saying the law likely violates the U.S. Constitution. ‘The dangerous precedent set by this act, allowing the controlling party in any state’s legislature to add substantive requirements as a precondition to qualifying for the state’s presidential primary ballot, should concern all candidates alike,’” the judge wrote.

“Must Massachusetts always follow California’s loony ideas?” Ford asked.

Beacon Hill Roll Call
Volume 44 - Report No. 46
November 11-15, 2019
By Bob Katzen


BAN FLAVORED TOBACCO PRODUCTS (H 4183) House 126-31, approved and sent to the Senate a bill that would ban the sale of flavored vaping and tobacco products—including mint and menthol cigarettes—and impose a 75 percent excise tax on e-cigarettes. Thirty percent of this estimated $10 million to $15 million tax revenue would go into a trust fund that cities and towns could use for substance abuse prevention. Businesses that don’t comply with the bill’s provisions could have their Lottery licenses temporarily suspended.

“Today the Massachusetts House voted to disarm one of Big Tobacco’s most dangerous weapons: flavored tobacco products,” said Marc Hymovitz, Massachusetts director of government relations for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network. “While Massachusetts has long been at the forefront in this area, we are poised to lead the nation by passing legislation that would prohibit the sale of all flavored tobacco products, keeping these deadly products out of the hands of our kids.”

“The House vote to include menthol and mint tobacco in legislation brought about by a youth vaping epidemic demonstrates how little they understand and appreciate the dangerous consequences associated with their vote,” said bill opponent Jon Shaer, executive director of the New England Convenience Store and Energy Marketer Association. “We’re supportive of aggressive action aimed at vaping, however, a menthol tobacco ban will disproportionately impact communities of color with increased illicit tobacco-related crime, store closures and job losses. Not to mention it strips adults of their right to buy legal products of their choice. The House could have avoided this if it had kept the focus where it belongs -- on vape.”

“The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network said the bill would make Massachusetts the first state to restrict the sale of all flavored tobacco products, including menthol cigarettes,” said Chip Ford, Executive Director of Citizens for Limited Taxation. “House Speaker Robert DeLeo described Wednesday’s vote as ‘a nation-leading step…to modernize our laws that regulate tobacco.’ But opponent Rep. Sheila Harrington (R-Groton) summed it up best:  ‘We have just given a financial gift to the state of New Hampshire, because people are going in droves.’”

“Will the Massachusetts Legislature ever get over its nanny state obsession and leave its citizens alone to think for themselves?” Ford added. “Why must everything in the commonwealth be either mandatory or forbidden by law?”


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Citizens for Limited Taxation    PO Box 1147    Marblehead, MA 01945    (781) 639-9709