Legislature’s Out for Summer

1217519709If the Legislature had spent a little bit more time voting on bills instead of mounting campaigns to become House Speaker or working 15-hour weeks, maybe they wouldn’t have to stay in the chambers until late tonight to accomplish all the stuff they should have done before the end of the legislative session.

But they didn’t, so now it’s time to cram months of legislation into a few precious hours. Let the frenzy begin!

The oftdebated plan to save the Turnpike Authority from its apocalyptic debt payments continues to be a big bone of contention. The House went along with Gov. Deval Patrick’s plan to cosign the entire $2.4 billion debt, while the Senate decided to only help the quasi-public agency refinance $1 billion. Nobody seems happy with any of the proposed compromises, so let’s hope the Turnpike Authority is searching its couches for some loose change.

Those of us with bad eyes will be sad to learn that House Speaker Sal DiMasi and Speaker Pro Tempore Thomas Petrolati sent a measure that would allow optometrists to prescribe eye medications to legislative purgatory. Opthamologists, who are the only eye professionals allowed to dole out medication under current state law, donated thousands of dollars to their campaigns.

A measure endorsed by Al Gore is also working its way through the Legislature. The proposed law would mandate huge cuts in the amount of greenhouse gases created by Massachusetts. The business community cited this legislation as evidence that this session was “most anti-employer, anti-jobs session in recent memory”[.]

While some employers may not like the recent developments, those who work in the wedding industry must be psyched that the House and Senate voted to repeal the 1913 law that kept out-of-state gay couples from marrying in Massachusetts. Gov. Patrick has said he’ll sign the bill, which contains an emergency preamble that will put the law into effect as soon as the ink is dry. So start picking out your china patterns now, gay couples.

Of course, we’ll have more gossip, news, and maybe even impromptu song tomorrow in the Hill and the Hall.