CLT Update
Wednesday, May 30, 2001

Democracy and freedom score an upset victory

Yesterday was a great day for democracy on Beacon Hill (can you even remember the last one?) and an even better one for freedom!

The proposed law that we were promised would never raise its ugly head was defeated: State Sen. Brian Lees' (RINO-East Longmeadow) mandatory seat belt law primary enforcement bill was killed -- at least for now -- in the House by a 76-76 tie vote!

After one of the best debates on the floor of the state House of Representatives I've watched in a long time (it went from 1:30 until the vote at 5:49), freedom reigned -- at least for a little while longer.

State Rep. Jim Fagan (D-Taunton), who last year virtually single-handedly killed the attempt with a filibuster, again was the hero of the day -- this year, along with the able and persistent assistance of House Minority Leader Fran Marini (R-Hanson).

Sens. Lees and James Jajuga (D-Methuen) tried again to play Lucy in the Peanuts comic strip and pull the football away from a trusting, never-learning, Charlie Brown -- the voters who said "yes" to the mandatory seat belt law when we put it on the ballot in 1994.

"We promise" it'll never go to primary enforcement, they vowed to the voters in '94. Today, they promise it'll never evolve into an insurance surchargeable offense, that the $25 fine will never increase. And they still expect citizens to buy their "good word" and promises!

Lucy is setting up the football again. And again, we shout "Look out Charlie Brown!"

Chip Ford

PS.  How did you state representative vote? The roll call vote is at the bottom of this page. Contact him or her either way: Thank them if they voted NO and encourage them to stand firm; lean on them if they voted YES to change their vote and support your personal freedom. The seat belt law zealots and insurance lobbyists are strong-arming your rep. and applying all their pressure as you read this!

State House News Service
Tuesday, May 29, 2001

Tie House vote rejects primary seatbelt law enforcement bill

On a tie vote, the House just before 6 pm rejected legislation to allow police officers to pull drivers over if they suspect they're not wearing seatbelts, and fine them for not buckling up.

The vote was 76-76.

Bill supporters said it will save lives, force more people to obey the existing seatbelt law, and reduce accident-related medical expenses.

Opponents said people should buckle up, but argued the bill stomps on personal freedoms and provides police with an excuse to harass drivers.

The House voted 102-49 earlier in the day to reject a bid to put the question of primary seatbelt enforcement on the ballot in 2002.

Supporters of the bill, which passed by a voice vote in the Senate last month, moved reconsideration and hope to prevail at a future session.

Primary seatbelt proponents vow to push on

Following the House's tie vote to reject primary enforcement of the seatbelt law, proponents vowed to forge ahead and be "very active" at the State House over the next week or so leading up to House reconsideration.

A coalition representing 43 groups and individuals is trying to address many lawmakers' concerns over potential racial profiling, said Seatbelts Are For Everyone (SAFE) spokesman Gloria Craven.

"It's fear-mongering," Craven said of opponents' arguments. "Civil liberties and constitutional issues - the arguments presented on the floor did not have legal weight. We know that primary enforcement works."

The coalition was surprised that racial profiling concerns cost them the support of Reps. Jay Kaufman, Byron Rushing, Gloria Fox and Shirley Owens-Hicks, Craven and other proponents said.

Only one member would need to flip to break today's tie vote.

The Boston Herald
Wednesday, May 30, 2001

House doesn't buckle under seat belt threat yet
by Howie Carr 

It was a landslide victory in the House last night for the opponents of mandatory seat belts.

The vote was 76-76.

Sure, a few arms twisted here and there and the vote may be turned around as early as next week, but for one day anyway, the seat-belt Nazis were turned back.

And after the vote was over, those tools of the insurance industry had the gall to accuse their opponents of "fear-mongering."

That's a good one -- from the pro-seat belt crowd that claims they do everything "for the children." They mutter darkly about un-seat-belted "human projectiles" hurtling through the front windshield, the cost of caring for paraplegics, and trot out ex-state cops to harrumph about how they "never unbuckled a dead man."

"I detect the slight odor of money here," Rep. Jim Fagan (D-Taunton) said on the floor of the House yesterday. "And the other smell is the stench from this hideous, foul, stinking legislation."

In case you haven't been following it, this S. 1211 would have -- and may yet -- allow cops to stop you for the sin of not wearing a seat belt.

In cop lingo, it's called "primary enforcement."

When they first made it a violation not to be wear a seat belt in your car, they said they would never, ever enact primary enforcement.

Now they're doing it.

They said they're doing it for the children. They're doing it for the insurance companies.

Last year the bill didn't come up until the end of the session, and Fagan, House Minority Leader Fran Marini and a few others would have been able to run out the clock. As it turns out, they didn't have to, because the bill narrowly went down, 78-71.

This year, the mandatory seat-belt bill reaches the House floor on May 29. The session doesn't end until around Thanksgiving. Not even Fagan can talk that long. So the skids seemed greased.

But somehow the opponents of mandatory seat belts won, despite the support of Mister Speaker, Tommy Finneran. It appears he didn't twist arms -- this time. Reconsideration may be something else again, but as Massachusetts motorists, we have to be grateful for small favors.

This S. 1211 was filed by, among others, Sens. Jim Jajuga and Brian Lees and Rep. Tim Toomey. Jajuga is a former state cop. Old habits die hard.

As for Toomey, he's from the People's Republic of Cambridge.

And I believed you, Tim, when you said that it will never be a surchargeable offense.

But that was then, and this is now.

And we also trust you that the $25 fine will never, ever be jacked up like it has been for every other moving violation.

So Jajuga and Toomey can't help themselves. But what's up with Lees? He's a Republican, the Senate minority leader in fact. Lees' theory must be, If you can't beat 'em, join 'em.

By the way, this seat-belt bill went through the Senate on a voice vote. That means there was no roll call. So if you see your state senator and ask him how he voted, he can tell you ... whatever you want to hear.

Everyone agrees, seat belts save lives. But why do the cops need to be writing you up for not doing something that's good for you, personally?

"They want to save lives?" Fagan said. "We could save a lot more lives by not letting anybody drive after, say, 9 o'clock at night."

But if you tell these solons that you're doing it for the children, they roll over on their backs like puppies and wait for an insurance-industry lobbyist to come over and scratch their tummies and give them a treat -- a treat they have to report to the Office of Campaign and Political Finance.

Last night the House did nothing. It was a victory for democracy, at least for one week.

To find who your state representative is,

Massachusetts House of Representatives
S. 1211 On Ordering to a third reading
05/29/01 05:49 PM

Yea and Nay
No. 73

5 N/V

Y - Mr. Speaker
X - Nagle
Y - DiMasi
Y - Harkins
X - Asselin
Y - Atkins
Y - Atsalis
Y - Ayers
Y - Balser
Y - Barrios
N - Binienda
Y - Blumer
Y - Bosley
Y - Bradley
N - Broadhurst
Y - Bunker
N - Buoniconti
N - Cabral
Y - Cahill
N - Canavan
N - Candaras
Y - Caron
N - Carron
N - Casey
N - Ciampa
Y - Connolly
N - Correia
N - Creedon
N - DeLeo
Y - Demakis
N - Dempsey
Y - Donato
Y - Donnelly
Y - Donovan
N - Fagan
Y - Fallon
Y - Falzone
N - Fennell
N - Festa
Y - Finegold
Y - Fitzgerald
Y - Flavin
Y - Flynn
N - Fox
N - Fresolo
N - Galvin
Y - Garry
Y - Goguen
Y - Golden B.P.
N - Golden T.A.
N - Greene
Y - Haddad
N - Hall
Y - Hart
X - Hodgkins
Y - Honan
N - Hynes
Y - Jehlen
N - Kafka
Y - Kane
Y - Kaprielian
N - Kaufman
Y - Keenan
N - Kennedy
Y - Khan
N - Knuuttila
N - Koczera
Y - Koutoujian
Y - Kujawski
Y - Kulik
Y - Larkin
Y - Leary
Y - LeDuc
Y - Lewis
Y - Linsky
Y - Malia
N - Mariano
Y - Marzilli
N - McGee
N - Merrigan
X - Miceli
Y - Murphy, C.A.
N - Murphy, K.J.
N - Nangle
N - Naughton
Y - Nyman
N - O'Brien
N - O'Flaherty
N - Owens-Hicks
N - Parente
Y - Patrick
Y - Paulsen
N - Pedone
N - Petersen
Y - Petrolati
Y - Petruccelli
Y - Provost
N - Quinn
N - Reinstein
N - Rivera
Y - Rodrigues
N - Rogers G.
X - Rogers J.H.
N - Ruane
N - Rushing
N - Santiago
N - Scaccia
Y - Simmons
N - Slattery
Y - Smizik
N - Speliotis
Y - Spellane
N - Stanley H.L. 
Y - Stanley T.M.
N - St. Fleur
Y - Story
N - Straus
Y - Sullivan, D.B.
Y - Sullivan, J.C.
N - Swan
N - Teahan
Y - Timilty
N - Tirone
N - Tobin
Y - Toomey
N - Torrisi
N - Travis
Y - Turkington
N - Vallee
N - Verga
Y - Wagner
Y - Walrath
Y - Walsh
Y - Wolf
N - Marini
N - Jones
N - Peterson
Y - Rogeness
Y - Brown
Y - Cleven
N - Coppola
Y - Cresta
N - deMacedo
N - Frost
Y - George
N - Gomes
Y - Hahn
Y - Hargraves
N - Hill
Y - Hillman
N - Kelly
N - Lepper
N - Locke
N - LoScocco
N - Poirier
N - Polito
N - Pope

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