Lobbying, Protesting Takes Spotlight On Beacon Hill

By Sarah Birnbaum

Feb. 21, 2011 (Updated Feb. 23, 2011)

BOSTON — Schoolchildren aren’t the only ones off this week. There are no formal sessions planned in the House or Senate. For the most part, Massachusetts lawmakers are staying in their districts and tending the home fires, although there are some hearings around the state on Governor Deval Patrick’s budget blueprint.
On Monday, Sen. John Kerry discussed President Barack Obama’s proposed $300 million cut to community development grants in New Bedford. The grants fund services like affordable housing, after-school programs and improvements to roads, sewers and fire stations in the Bay State. Two weeks ago, Kerry signed a letter to president Obama, urging him to take the grants off the chopping block.

On Tuesday, Sen. Scott Brown kicks off his book tour in Boston. In the book, Brown reveals that he was sexually abused as a kid by his camp counselor and was physically abused by a stepfather.  

Update: WGBH's Adam Reilly covered the signing.

Also on Tuesday, the chief justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Court joins attorneys from 40 Boston-area law firms for an annual lobby day on Beacon Hill. Chief Justice Roderick Ireland will ask lawmakers to preserve funding for civil legal aid to poor Bay State residents. Ireland might also ask them to reject a number of Governor Deval Patrick’s budget proposals, including a recommendation to replace the 3,000 private attorneys the state pays to represent poor clients with 1,000 staff lawyers. The legal community opposes the plan.   

Update: Justice Ireland did not attend the rally. WGBH's Sarah Birnbaum covered the event.

The rest of the week is quiet on Beacon Hill.  Many lawmakers are away for the February school vacation. They’ll have a lot of work waiting for them when they get back. Patrick has rolled out  major policy proposals, including sentencing reforms, a parole system overhaul and a bill restructuring health care delivery and payment in Massachusetts.
Patrick is headed to Washington on Friday for the annual meeting of the nation’s governors.  

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