Bullfighting, Banking and the Big E

What's on the fall agenda in Boston? Everything from bullfighting to banking and the Big E.

Believe it or not, there's a bill in the House that would outlaw bullfighting in Massachusetts. Now, honestly, I didn't even know we had bullfighting. Until a matador was gored by a bull, in a bullfight in Lowell, two weeks ago.

At least it was, allegedly, a "bloodless" bullfight. Which is supposed to mean the bull doesn't have to die.

In Spanish and Mexican tradition, by the way, the bull is killed. In the Portuguese tradition, the bull isn't killed. The "bloodless" applies to the bull, not the matador, who is released into the ring and provoked into charging. (That's the bull that's provoked, not the matador, in case you're my old English teacher.)

In this case, the bullfighter was injured but lived, a police officer got gored in the chase when the bull escaped the ring, and the bull was shot and killed.

Now, is this a problem, you may ask, that deserves legislative attention?

It's not a frequent event, having occurred maybe only three or four times in Lowell each year, and occasionally in Taunton, Dighton and Orange.

Bulls are bred to be aggressive, so they get stressed, so the fight can't make them very happy, and I certainly don't want to see any creature suffer and die for man's entertainment. Bullfight enthusiasts say that's it's just harmless fun, for spectators and participants. I don't think they're speaking for the bull.

Now, it's a Portuguese American tradition, part of a cultural heritage, a good fund raiser. Good grief, they must have some other traditions they can pass along. And I don't think it's an ethnic issue. As the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals points out, it's an animal issue.

Now, some times these MSPCA'ers go too far. Some even want to ban circus animals. I don't go along with that. But I just can't support bullfighting. Or dogfighting. Or cockfighting.

I went to a bullfight once. It wasn't bloodless. And, I don't intend to go to another, bloodless or not.

It's just one of those things you sample as a tourist. That seems like a good idea at the time. And the pomp and the pageantry and the protocol were worth seeing. Once.

This is a bill that will be easy to support.

Other bills still pending this fall (stay tuned for details) include:

· The decrease in the Unemployment Insurance tax that employers pay. We approved it this past Wednesday. Finally. But it won't go into effect until 1998. It should have been made retroactive for the entire year, but the pro-business votes weren't there.

· Legislation to allow Massachusetts chartered banks to sell insurance. The federal government mandated it for federally chartered banks, and we want our local banks to be able to be competitive.

· Managed care legislation, to make sure patients get quality treatment, that HMO's allow appeals of their decisions, and that those decisions rest with providers (read, doctors) who aren't getting kickbacks in the form of year-end bonuses for services they didn't provide.

· Funding for our Westfield District Courthouse. We passed the legislation, but the Governor vetoed it because it mandated union labor for construction.

· Cut in the state's income tax, hopefully down to 5 percent, to put money back in your pockets. The state's having a record year in income, so it makes a cut possible.

· Tax exemptions for military pensions for veterans.

· Rule of 90 for teachers. (If you're a teacher you know what it is, if you're not, and curious, ask a teacher, or call me.)

· Funding to renovate the Massachusetts Building at the Big E, the shabbiest building on the block.

Many, many, many other bills are also still pending. The bad news is, we won't get to them all this year. The good news is, because of our new two-year sessions, anything not completed will carry over into 1998, without having to be refiled, and without repeating hearings already held.

And, that's no bull.

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