Editorial: Legislative scorecard

Staff Writer
Mount Shasta Herald

The Massachusetts Legislature's sprint to the finish line wasn't pretty, with bills being revised at the last minute, late-night sessions, and the kind of frenzied atmosphere that doesn't lend itself to careful deliberation.

But when the dust had settled, lawmakers could point to an impressive body of work. Among the highlights:

- A $1 billion commitment to making Massachusetts a leader in the life sciences industry.

- Legislation and incentives to promote a "green economy" encourage energy conservation and reduce carbon emissions.

- Repeal of a blight on the state's books: a 1913 law, enacted to prevent inter-racial marriages and used more recently to stop same-sex couples from other states from marrying in Massachusetts.

- A bill establishing a fair and affordable system for setting wages for state-contracted human services workers.

- Legislation to control the skyrocketing cost of health care, the unfinished business of the state's landmark health care reform law. The bill, a special project of Senate President Therese Murray, includes limits on gifts to providers from drug companies, a process for moving to electronic record-keeping and a standard for uniform billing and coding, long championed by Sen. Karen Spilka, D-Ashland.

- A "mental health parity" bill requiring insurers cover treatment for autism, substance abuse, eating disorders and post-traumatic stress disorder.

- Bond bills to get the state started with overdue repairs to roads, bridges, public buildings and other infrastructure needs.

- A bill establishing a structure that will, when fully implemented, improve access, accountability and professionalism in early childhood education.

- A bill closing corporate tax loopholes that makes taxation more fair as well as generating revenue the commonwealth needs.

As always, there was work left undone when the lawmakers closed out the last formal session of the year. We were particularly disappointed that the National Popular Vote bill, approved by the House and believed to have the support of a majority of senators, never got a final vote. Sentencing reform legislation, which finally made it out of the Joint Judiciary Committee this week was also a victim of the end of the session.

Those of us who are expected to be at our jobs from August to December may well question a system which releases 200 elected legislators from their main work halfway through the summer. But while the Legislature's pace can be maddening, their production in the session now essentially closed, has been encouraging.

MetroWest Daily News