Radical "pandemic control bill" - quickly passed by MA House - now languishes in conference committee
Second thoughts about "urgent" pandemic threat vs constitutional rights?
POSTED: December 2, 2009
The absurd ways of the Massachusetts Legislature never seem to quit. That's why YOUR pressure is so important!
The radical pandemic control bill, which (after passing the Senate unanimously) was raced through the House because they said it was extremely urgent, now lies languishing in a conference committee -- nearly two months later -- with no prediction of if or when it will move forward to the Governor's desk.
Fast-tracked to overcome controversy
Back in April the Massachusetts Senate unanimously passed a radical "pandemic control bill" (S2028) that would allow the state to easily impose heavy-handed extra-constitutional martial law for a very broad range of situations. By September the draconian language of the bill became widely known after MassResistance and others sounded the alarm (and we published a detailed analysis of the bill). It was considered so radical that the national press, including Fox News, reported on it.
The proponents of the bill immediately reacted. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health and key legislators began a hard-hitting PR campaign in the Legislature and the media to persuade the House to ignore the controversy and pass it quickly so the Governor could sign it into law as soon as possible. But the outrage became widespread and the House was being flooded with angry phone calls.
So the bill was fast-tracked to the House Ways and Means Committee, which submitted a re-worded version of the bill to the House on October 7.
The following afternoon, October 8 the leadership called the House into session to vote on the bill, along with 17 last-minute amendments submitted by Democrat proponents. As the debate began that afternoon, the Republicans pleaded for a few days to study the new 15-page bill and the amendments - which they had only received less than 24 hours earlier.
But the Democrats insisted on moving as fast as possible, and they voted 125-22 against postponing a vote on it. Rep. Jeffrey Sanchez (D-Boston) led the argument that basically everything in the bill is now fine so just go ahead and vote it in. The general attitude was that this is very urgent and the Legislature can't waste time looking it over.
The House quickly passed the 17 amendments on a rattling of voice votes, not even bothering to read them out loud, with no substantial discussion. Immediately after that, the House took a vote on the entire bill, and it passed 133-36.
Conference Committee to resolve differing House and Senate versions
The House version was much less radical than the unanimously-passed Senate version. There's no question that the public outrage had a big effect on that. The two bills were immediately sent to a 6-person conference committee to consolidate them. The expectation was that it would be quickly resolved and probably signed by the Governor within days.
CLICK HERE for full MassResistance report on the Pandemic Bill, including text of Senate & House versions, analysis, roll call votes, and more.
Still hanging around
Well, it didn't work out quite as expected. Nearly two months later, it's still sitting in the conference committee.
And the anticipated H1N1 "pandemic" (how DO they define that?) that they thought could bring the state to its knees has, well, been a lot less severe than predicted. (To hear the DPH and legislative proponents talk, the state would fall [delete gone] into anarchy unless the bill were passed.)
But now there doesn't seem to be much interest in moving the bill. We've called the State House several times, and no one seems to know what's happening with it. We do know that the Conference Committee has met a number of times. Has there been any movement? No one's saying. It could be January at the least, a staffer said this week, before anything happens. Our sense is that they don't want to take any more heat on this one, since the "urgent emergency" hasn't quite materialized and they have other pressures to deal with now.
We'll keep you informed. At this point, no news is good news. But it's a testament to what focused citizen outrage can do. (And it certainly makes us all wonder what's really behind the "pandemic" predictions and the push for vaccinations.)