House leaders made a mockery of the process in ramming through tax package
Re “It’s time to restore legislative democracy on Beacon Hill”: The Globe’s excellent May 22 editorial correctly cited the example of the tax package House leaders recently rammed through with no notice or debate. However, it neglected to mention several facts that demonstrate just how broken the House is and how that affects the state and its residents.
The tax package was never voted on by the Legislature’s Revenue Committee, making a mockery of the public hearing that committee held on March 28. It contained a tax cut for corporations that was not even on the agenda at that hearing. The tax cut, which would cost the state at least $79 million annually, was not in Governor Maura Healey’s original proposal or any bill or amendment filed by a House member. It came from a Senate bill filed by a Republican and favorable to the Associated Industries of Massachusetts, the lobbying arm of the state’s big businesses.
That tax cut’s inclusion in the tax package shows how House leaders’ complete control of the legislative process gives powerful people a back channel to advance their interests with none of the public scrutiny and participation that democracy demands.
The writer is a former state representative (2009-2021).
The problem is that short-term wishes stifle efforts at reform
The Globe’s critique of the consolidation of power in the Legislature nails it. But remedying the situation will require much more than calling for “both voters and lawmakers to demand more.”
It will require a grass-roots movement that makes progress on rules reform a condition for continued support from both voters and fellow lawmakers. The problem is that that’s a tall order for folks who have other business before the Legislature and need incumbent politicians and the leadership’s support to get near-term results on other priorities.
Calling on the Fourth Estate to keep a close watch on Beacon Hill
Thank you for the editorial “It’s time to restore legislative democracy on Beacon Hill.” A close eye on the State House has been sorely lacking for years now. Doing the people’s work behind closed doors is a prime example, but certainly not the only one, of keeping the electorate in the dark. It is up to the Fourth Estate to keep our representatives and senators in line for the benefit of us all.