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AG wants to repeal law suspending licenses for drug offenses

Attorney General Maura Healey.
Attorney General Maura Healey. Aram Boghosian for The Boston Globe

Attorney General Maura Healey called Thursday for the repeal of a state law requiring the suspension of driver’s licenses for drug offenses unrelated to vehicle operation.

Healey, appearing before the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Transportation, said the law affects about 7,000 people per year.

“Our office has seen no evidence that license suspensions are an effective way to deter drug offenses unrelated to driving,” she said. “We do see, however, license suspensions as preventing people from getting to work, getting to the grocery store, picking their children up from school, taking their parents or other family members to medical appointments, and fulfilling other obligations.”

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Middlesex Sheriff Peter Koutoujian also pressed for repeal of the law, arguing that it makes it more difficult for convicts released from prison to reintegrate into society.

The push for repeal is part of a larger criminal justice overhaul under consideration on Beacon Hill. Lawmakers are also weighing legislation that would drop mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenses and overhaul the state’s bail system.

Healey, speaking to reporters after her testimony, addressed another subject: a proposed constitutional amendment that would hike the tax rate on earnings over $1 million and direct the proceeds to education and transportation.

There is some question about the legality of dedicating the new revenue to education and transportation, given the constitutional ban on amendments making “a specific appropriation.”

Healey, who is required to sign off on the constitutionality of a proposed amendment before it can wind its way through the Legislature and to the voters for ultimate approval, declined to comment on the legal question.


David Scharfenberg can be reached at david.scharfenberg
@globe.com
. Follow him on Twitter @dscharfGlobe.