Calling lt Quits for 1999-2000

This is the year the legislature adjourns "early."

As of July 31st, we won't be doing anything controversial or anything dealing with money, basically. Oh, if there's an emergency, we can be called back into session. But, it's unlikely to happen.

This is an election year, an even numbered year, so sessions end on July 3lst. Last year and next year, odd numbered years, sessions end in mid-November.

Every year, however, we still continue to meet, but in informal sessions, until the new legislature takes over the first Wednesday of the New Year.

Unless, there is prorogation. And, there's only been two in the last two decades. 1980 and 1988.

In order to prorogue, House and Senate leaders and the Governor agree to end the legislative year for good sometime before year's end. (An aside: thanks to the State House news service for these historic references.)

In 1980, for example, legislators were called back to Beacon Hill twice--to finish the Constitutional Convention and bail out the financially troubled MBTA.

Sessions are now two years long, 1999 and 2000, for the current terms. And, it looks like we'll approve, maybe, 120 laws this year, most dealing with local issues. Last year, we enacted 181.

All of us have bills that we still hope to get passed this year. But, hopes are dimming for many of them. As this is written, we still have to approve the budget, and possibly override several of the Governor's sure-to-come vetoes, for example.

There's the matter of a new Red Sox ballpark. My own aircraft tax legislation. Special education changes. Civic Center funding. "Baby Unemployment" legislation to use unemployment insurance for paid maternity leave, establishing a 25-foot buffer zone around abortion clinics, and a few thousand other pieces of pending legislation.

Some important, some mundane.

There is no way that we can even discuss all of them in the few weeks remaining, let alone get them all to the floor for a vote, and approval in both Senate and House.

So, we start all over again. Filing legislation by December for consideration in the years 2001 and 2002.

Several constituents have already asked me to draft legislation for the upcoming session, and we're working on it. If you have ideas, or have ever said, "there ought to be a law," call my aides Carla Moran or Tim Cheever and outline your ideas.

They'll do the research to see if similar legislation has been filed or even if there are laws on the books already.

Because, even though the legislature is about to basically call it quits for the year, we keep working. Legislation that I've filed that hasn't been enacted will be filed again, along with new bills you've requested.

And, remember, this is the only state in the nation where any citizen can file legislation. In some states, by contrast, legislators are limited to only a few bills they can file each year.

Should you be hopeful your idea will become law? Who can predict. But, chances are slim. Of some 8,000 bills or more filed each session, maybe 200 or 300 will pass. And, again, most are local, home rule petitions.

What else will we be doing in the months to come?

A lot of catching up, reading, filing, research and, most importantly, answering your calls and questions and complaints. That's the biggest part of the job--helping you solve problems you encounter within the state's offices and bureaucracies.

We'll also be grabbing some vacation time.

And, Carla Moran, who first came to my office as an intern the year I was elected, will be marrying her longtime beau, George Kober. Congratulations to both of them.

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