"Pandemic bill" goes to 6-person conference committee
To make one bill out of two radically different House & Senate versions
October 18, 2009
Watching legislation at work is a pretty stomach-wrenching sport.
As we reported last week, the Massachusetts House largely re-wrote the Senate version of the radical "Pandemic Control Bill", S2028, which had serious constitutional civil rights issues, to say the least, and was being discussed across the country, including on national Fox news programs.
The House version which was re-crafted by the House Ways and Means committee, renamed H4271, took out much of the offensive language. But before we could analyze it, the full House rammed through 17 amendments to change it even further. The final house version, now named H4275, is finally posted.
So now there are two bills that have passed: the Senate version and the House version.
Senate version: S2028
House version: H4275
General info on Pandemic Bill
The next step is for a "conference committee" to take the two bills and make a third "final" bill out of it, which will be sent to the Governor to sign. This is what's got people scared again. The conference committee is made up of 3 reps and 3 senators -- two Democrats and one Republican from each branch.
The Conference Committee
From House - Reps: Jeffrey Sanchez (D-Boston), Mary Grant (D-Beverly) and Lew Evangelidis (R-Holden)
From Senate - Senators. Richard Moore (D-Uxbridge), Susan Fargo(D-Lincoln) and Bob Hedlund (R-Weymouth).
On the surface, this doesn't look good. Moore (who seems to be closely connected with "Big Pharma") is the sponsor and champion of the original Senate version, and Sanchez is an inner-city leftist who basically agrees with Moore. Grant and Fargo are air-headed liberals. It's up to Evangelidis and Hedlund to hold the line for sanity and constitutional rights. It's pretty scary when the responsibility is given to 6 people out of a 200-person legislature to make law.
One thing's for sure. Judging from what's happened so far, if this bill comes out bad, they will hear from a LOT of angry people.