Happy hour? In Massachusetts?
Yes, legalizing discounted drinks is a possibility. But like several other pending pieces of legislation on Beacon Hill, its fate depends on how quickly the Legislature can move in the last days of the session — and how it resolves some lingering controversies.
Regrettably, the end-of-session logjam seems to have become a fact of life in Massachusetts. Rushed votes are not the ideal way for lawmakers to do business, and sometimes requires procedural shortcuts that give the public less time to comment on legislation; for a recent climate bill, for instance, lawmakers set aside their own deadlines to move it to a quick vote.
That said, here’s some items that hopefully won’t be left stranded in a conference committee, or on the governor’s desk:
▪ Governor Charlie Baker’s proposal to revamp the laws governing dangerousness hearings appears to be dead, but the governor seems to believe there’s still a path forward. If so, the Legislature should find it. Dangerousness hearings allow prosecutors to ask a judge to hold a criminal defendant who has not been convicted, but may pose a danger if released. They are a much fairer way to decide who stays in jail pending trial than the more traditional approach — setting bail that only wealthy defendants could pay.
▪ The Legislature sent Baker a bill expanding abortion rights, with compromise language that sought to address his concerns about the rare abortions performed after 24 weeks. The language is now more specific about when such abortions would be permitted — in cases of lethal fetal anomaly, or “a grave fetal diagnosis that indicates that the fetus is incompatible with sustained life outside of the uterus without extraordinary medical interventions.” Baker should sign it.
▪ The House and Senate both passed bills that would legalize sports betting, but with a major difference: The House bill includes college sports, but the Senate doesn’t. Neither quite gets it right. As this editorial page has argued, a middle ground that allows gambling on out-of-state college games but not local schools would be the best compromise. Several other states, including New York, New Jersey, Virginia, and Washington, have a similar law, and it would make sense here too.
▪ Negotiations on the multibillion dollar economic development bill, a sprawling piece of legislation that also contains provisions only loosely related to economic development, are coming down to the wire. Some items to keep: The House bill includes a teacher diversity program, while the Senate blocks local zoning restrictions on so-called accessory dwelling units (think basement apartments for grandparents) and allows Massachusetts to join the civilized world in celebrating happy hours. Cheers to that.
▪ Legalizing marijuana has not provided the economic boost to marginalized communities that supporters once hoped for. A big reason is cost: It’s expensive to open and operate a pot business, in part because the state’s law allows host communities to dun entrepreneurs for big “community impact fees.” Reforms to the law, including more state oversight of excessive community impact fees, are overdue. Baker called the legislation “important”; hopefully lawmakers will agree and get the bill to his desk.
▪ Too many people suffer needlessly during their final days. Allowing people suffering from terminal illness to end their lives on their own terms would be a humane reform. Legislation that would create an option for medical aid-in-dying for terminally ill patients reportedly faces slim odds, but is still worth pursuing.
The Legislature has moved major legislation this year, including the climate bill and the budget, which Baker signed Thursday. But by leaving so much work to the end-of-session stampede, lawmakers have inadvertently handed extra power to the governor, who has 10 days to decide whether to sign, veto, or amend legislation. That may make it difficult for the Legislature to override any potential gubernatorial vetoes on last-minute legislation.
Next time, legislative leaders should work through their differences sooner, and avoid these kind of pileups. Maybe even over drinks at happy hour.
Editorials represent the views of the Boston Globe Editorial Board. Follow us on Twitter at @GlobeOpinion.