Friday, February 5, 2010

HB376 update and denouement

A draft post became published a while ago on this blog about HB376, a bill in the State House. The thinking is much more logically and clearly presented at my post on BlueMassGroup. I'll talk about the bill in a second, but I do want to relate my experiences attempting to contact the Democratic co-sponsors.

I have made three attempts to contact each Democratic state representative who signed on as co-sponsor of this bill over the past two weeks. I can understand that these representative are busy, so I must highlight Representatives Calter, Dwyer, DiNatale, and Rosa not only for replies to my initial inquiry, but extended the kindness of responding to a follow-up with a real discussion. I also had a productive talk with the legislative aide for Representative Lantigua.

The other representatives' offices have yet to offer even the courtesy of indicating that they have received my message. If anybody would care to contact the representatives below with questions of their own, please feel free. Maybe you'll get an answer; if you do, please comment it here.

Paul J. Donato 35th Middlesex 617-722-2090
Kevin J. Murphy 18th Middlesex 617-722-2877
Kathi-Anne Reinstein 16th Suffolk 617-722-2783
Angelo M. Scaccia 14th Suffolk 617-722-2060

As for the status of the bill itself, I've gathered through my conversations the following impressions:

1 - This bill was filed in a political and legal vacuum of sorts. Representatives signed on as co-sponsors before the initial process of examining the implications of this bill could be addressed. The facts that this law would be swatted down by settled precedent, or the effect of deputizing school committees to arbitrate between different religion(s) seeking time in ceremonies had not even been considered.

2 - Furthermore, given the paucity of sponsors and the deadline for the session on the horizon, there is little chance of this bill advancing toward debate, vote, or passage.

3 - This bill was written in reaction to a student's recounting of a solitary incident to members of the General Court. As described to me, that incident was mishandled by school administration according to current law. The law was not the problem; administration understanding of it was. This is an issue for that district's administration, not the Commonwealth's legal code.

All this to say that this misguided bill seems to have little chance of going anywhere, probably wouldn't stand up much to real scrutiny in the first place, and hopefully will not be re-introduced in the next session.

1 comment:

James Patrick Conway said...

Yeah I think we agreed existing law, while not enforced properly, already protects this speech and this law would probably be read wrong even more frequently do to its vague wording. Glad to see its dead and the passions can once again die down.

Paul Donato btw is probably one of the most socially conservative members of the House, I am surprised he keeps getting re-elected.