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MA House quickly passes new version of controversial "pandemic control bill" with 17 amendments!

Even more changes coming in conference committee

(We have the LATEST version below!)

Friday, October 9, 2009

It wasn't pretty.

Yesterday (Thursday) as predicted, the Massachusetts House passed the new version of the controversial "pandemic control bill" (formerly S2028, now titled H4271) by a vote of 114-36. They also passed 17 last-minute amendments. Is this new version better or worse? We all need to look it over to be sure.

And they're not done yet. Over the next several days it goes to a six-person "conference committee". The committee will create a bill with from the new House version and the more radical Senate version passed in April -- to create a "final" version for the Governor to sign.

Thursday's House debate was pretty upsetting to watch. It seemed like most of them had a cavalier and condescending attitude toward this very important legislation.

At the beginning, some Republicans made a motion to postpone the vote by at least a few days. Their reasoning made sense: The reps had received the new 15-page version - and the proposed amendments -- less than 24 hours before. In addition, the Ways and Means Committee members who wrote the new version were all at a public hearing in Gardner Auditorium, so they couldn't take part in the debate and explain why they wrote what they did. What difference would a few days make? But the leadership said no. They insisted on moving immediately. And the majority obeyed. The vote to postpone failed 22-125. (Heck, why bother reading legislation, anyway?)

       Roll call vote 22-125 NOT to postpone the vote on 4271

Rep. Jeffrey Sanchez (D-Boston), a typical inner-city liberal, 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.

They wasted no time going through the 17 amendments. It was almost comical: The clerk would start reading an amendment. After the first few sentences the chairman would stop him and say "If there's no objection we'll just move on." The author of the amendment would then step up and give a short speech about why the amendment was needed. Then the chairman would quickly call for a "voice vote" -- which was not really a voice vote at all but sort of a murmur -- and the chairman would immediately declare the amendment passed, and move on to the next amendment. There was almost no debate or questioning. Fnally, they took a roll call vote on the bill, which passed 133-36. And that was that.

House roll call vote 144-36 to pass bill H4271

Latest version of H4172 - directly from House clerk's office -- with amendments hand-written in!
(Read it . . . if you can!)

Main MassResistance main page on pandemic bill S2028 / H4173
We will be updating it as we get ALL the latest information and copies of current version of the bill.

The outrageous thing is that this is business as usual with our Massachusetts politicians. Nobody there acted as if this was anything out of the ordinary, though the rest of the country has paid a lot of attention. And we've seen it before, too. But that attitude still angers us, and others who think the public deserves better.

Will the final version protect your civil liberties? Or will the conference committee just quietly cave in to the bureaucrats? We know that the Department of Public Health can now access anyone's medical records under the bill, but will there still be restrictions on how they use them?

We'll keep you up to date on what happens.