Massachusetts has come a long way since the days of Gov. Elbridge Gerry. But how much does gerrymandering still play a role in the state where the term was first coined? The subject of partisan redistricting — in which incumbent political parties redraw legislative maps to their own advantage — is once again receiving national attention, as the Supreme Court considers gerrymandering cases in Wisconsin and Maryland. Pennsylvania was also recently forced to redraw its U.S. congressional map, which heavily favored Republicans. It wasn’t so long ago that courts also forced Massachusetts to redraw its maps. But advocates say the state is in a better place now, especially compared to some of its peers across the country. “The last time the legislature did redistricting, they did a good job,” said Pam Wilmot, the executive director of Common Cause Massachusetts. Wilmot was there in 2011 when Gov. Deval Patrick signed the latest redistricting bill, which … [Read more...] about How gerrymandered is Massachusetts?
BOSTON (AP) — Legislation aimed at prioritizing the testing of rape kits for possible DNA evidence is awaiting Republican Gov. Charlie Baker’s signature. The bill includes a requirement that all existing untested kits associated with a reported crime be submitted for testing within 180 days. The bill also calls for the development of a tracking system that will provide sexual assault victims with continuous access to information on their kits. Exactly how many untested rape kits exist in Massachusetts isn’t clear. In 2015 state public safety officials requested reports from local police departments on the number of untested rape kits in their possession, but only 75 of 351 responded. Passage of the legislation was welcomed by advocates for sexual assault victims. They say it tells victims their cases do matter. Close The biggest headlines, delivered to your inbox Get news as it happens. Sign up for Boston.com's email news alerts. Thanks for signing up! … [Read more...] about Massachusetts lawmakers OK bill calling for rape kit testing
Visit The Boston Globe Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Comment on this Scroll to top of page Maria Cramer Globe Staff April 06, 2018 A federal judge dismissed a lawsuit on Friday that challenged Massachusetts’ ban on assault weapons, delivering a significant victory for Attorney General Maura Healey, who had tightened enforcement of the state’s laws against such weapons after the 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting in Florida.In his ruling, US District Judge William Young wrote the state’s two-decade-old ban on assault weapons and large-capacity magazines do not violate the right to bear arms under the Second Amendment. “The AR-15 and its analogs, along with large capacity magazines, are simply not weapons within the original meaning of the individual constitutional right to ‘bear Arms,’ ” Young wrote in a 47-page ruling. “In the absence of federal legislation, Massachusetts is free to ban these weapons and … [Read more...] about Federal judge upholds Massachusetts assault weapons ban
Both Republican and Democratic legislators voted Tuesday to ban so-called “bump stocks’’ and “ghost guns’’ — the two biggest gun bills of the legislative session.Lawmakers called for banning the bump stock devices that allowed a shooter to fire faster and kill nearly 60 people last year at a concert outside a Las Vegas hotel.Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and gun control advocates are trying to prohibit the sale and possession of the devices that allowed the Las Vegas shooter to fire as many as 90 rounds every 10 seconds.After voting to ban bump stocks, the committee then voted to ban “ghost guns,’’ which can be purchased in parts online and then assembled later at home. As a result, the guns do not have serial numbers and are not traceable.Gun control bills are traditionally among the most controversial pieces of legislation at the Capitol, pitting gun control advocates against supporters of the Second Amendment who seek to defend … [Read more...] about Legislative Committee Votes To Ban Bump Stocks And Ghost Guns
On Monday, the finance, revenue and bonding committee became the fourth panel to hold a public hearing on recreational marijuana this legislative session. This time, on a bill that focuses on the taxation of marijuana and marijuana products sold in the state should they be legalized.The bill, H.B. 5582, would allow Connecticut to tax marijuana and marijuana products on and after the date marijuana is legalized, though this year legalization is unlikely as one key committee has already rejected the measure and another will not be voting on the measure.The bill doesn’t specify the tax rate consumers would have to pay when purchasing recreational marijuana but instead proposes that should legalization occur, the “marijuana wholesaler” would be taxed at a rate of 13.65 percent.The bill defines a marijuana wholesaler as a person licensed to purchase marijuana from a marijuana cultivation or marijuana product manufacturing facility who would then sell it to a marijuana … [Read more...] about Fourth Legislative Committee Holds Recreational Pot Hearing; Bill Focuses On Taxation