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Political Happy Hour with Joshua Miller

Thursday, July 31, 2014
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Here’s your afternoon dose of politics, from Joshua Miller of the Boston Globe:

THE FINAL COUNTDOWN ON BEACON HILL: The Red Sox aren’t the only ones madly swapping at the deadline. Legislators have left a number of substantial bills to the last possible moment. With only hours before formal legislative sessions end for the year, state senators and representatives are scrambling to send a series of big bills — on topics ranging from job creation to fighting domestic violence — to Governor Deval Patrick’s desk. Last night, negotiators released compromise proposals on some key bills, but they still need to clear both chambers. Today’s sessions are expected to last late into the night and, perhaps, into the early morning hours of Friday.


•An economic development bill that, among many other provisions, will set a sales tax holiday for Aug. 16-17 (set an iPhone reminder — good time to go buy a couch or big-screen TV) and grants Boston 75 new liquor licenses and local control over awarding them for the first time in memory.

•An anti-domestic violence bill, which would strengthen the state’s law against abusers and give added protections to victims. The bill also includes a controversial provision that would shield the identity of alleged domestic abusers and their victims from public view until the case lands in court, which has led some free-speech advocates to cry foul.

•An anti-gun violence bill, crafted in the months and years after the December 2012 Newtown, Conn., school massacre that tightens the state’s already tight firearms laws and adds a slew of provisions aimed at reducing gun violence. In a compromise on its most controversial provision, it gives police authority to go to court to keep people they deem think are dangerous from buying rifles and shotguns. It also has Massachusetts join a national database for criminal and mental-health background checks; increases penalties for some firearm crimes; and mandates that schools develop plans to address students’ mental health needs.

SOMETHING EXTRAORDINARY: Both gun control advocates and the big Massachusetts gun rights group, the Gun Owners’ Action League, have expressed support for the compromise legislation.

NATIONAL RIFLE ASSOCIATION NOT ON BOARD, via a posting on the website of its legislative action arm: It says the compromise bill “still retains the most egregious provision, allowing issuing authorities to use discretion in issuing or denying FID cards [needed to buy a shotgun or rifle]. ... This is an egregious violation of your Second Amendment rights, and it isn’t difficult to imagine how allowing issuing authorities or the district court discretion in the issuance of FID cards will be abused if [the bill] becomes law. ...”

SUBSTANCE ABUSE BILL ALSO MOVING IN THE LEGISLATURE, via Felice J. Freyer and Yasmeen Abutaleb on “State lawmakers have reached agreement on a final version of a bill intended to address the opioid addiction crisis, they announced Thursday morning, and the measure includes controversial coverage requirements for inpatient substance abuse care that health insurers had fought. The bill ... requires coverage for at least 14 days of inpatient detoxificiation and post-detox care, but allows insurers to review such decisions after seven days. ...”

THEY’RE FROM THE GOVERNMENT AND HERE (REVERE) TO HELP — SENATORS TO PLEDGE SUPPORT AFTER TORNADO, via Jim O’Sullivan on “The state’s two US senators will join local officials Friday morning to announce a relief fund for people affected by the tornado that tore through Revere on Monday. Senators Elizabeth Warren and Edward J. Markey are scheduled to appear at Revere City Hall, where officials are expected to announce that the fund has already received $200,000 in pledges, with an expected goal of $1 million. The ‘Revere Tornado Relief Fund’ is expected to fill in for federal disaster aid left in doubt because the storm may not have inflicted enough damage to qualify. ... Former Middlesex County district attorney Gerard T. Leone will administer the fund. People familiar with the planning said there had been no agreement reached on how much Leone would be compensated. ...”

MARKEY BRINGS IN LOBBYIST MONEY, via Kimberly Atkins in Washington in today’s Boston Herald: “U.S. Sen. Edward J. Markey, who has long championed campaign finance reform, has scored nearly $611,000 in contributions from registered lobbyists over the past 18 months — a haul that makes him king of the Hill among lawmakers raking in special interest cash, according to the latest documents. ...”

IN BOSTON, TOP REPUBLICAN SAYS GOP COMPETING FOR VOTES OF PEOPLE OF COLOR, via Philip Marcelo of the Associated Press in Boston: “Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus told a national convention of black journalists on Thursday that the GOP has been working to better compete for black and minority votes as it eyes the 2016 presidential race. Priebus also said he’s confident the party will take back the U.S. Senate from Democrat control and add more seats to its majority in the U.S. House in this year’s midterm elections. ‘It’ll be a good year,’ Priebus told the annual convention of the National Association of Black Journalists. ‘We’re a very good midterm party.’ ...” Link via ABCNews:

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