Census Data Comes To Mass. This Week

By Sarah Birnbaum

Mar. 21, 2011

BOSTON — Massachusetts lawmakers receive U.S. census data this week that will guide them in redrawing the state’s political map and determine the distribution of hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funds. Change in state politics -- from term limits to redistricting to remaking the Parole Board -- seems to be a theme this week on Beacon Hill.
On Monday, Gov. Deval Patrick sits down for a private chat with legislative leaders for the first time since returning from a 10-day trade mission abroad. The conversation may turn to casinos. House Speaker Robert Deleo said last week that it was time to renew gambling negotiations with the governor.
On Tuesday, Patrick’s final nominee to the state’s embattled parole board goes before the Governor’s Council for questioning.  The nominee, John Bocon, is a former federal probation officer. Critics say the governor is trying to stack the parole board with former prosecutors and court officers who are inclined to deny inmates’ requests for parole.
Wednesday, lawmakers will hear testimony on a bill that would impose term limits on state Senators and representatives.  Under the plan, House members would only be allowed to serve for 4 terms and state senators would only be allowed to serve for 2. The measure is sponsored by State Senator Stephen Brewer of Barre, who is in his eighth term.
On Thursday, the U.S. Census Bureau releases data that Massachusetts lawmakers will use to draw new districts for the Legislature and for the U.S. House.  Among the data will be population summaries by race and voting age for jurisdictions such as counties, cities and school districts.
And on Saturday, members of the House and Senate redistricting committee will hold a public hearing in Springfield.  It’s the first in a series of hearings planned around the state on the upcoming redrawing of the Massachusetts election map.  

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