, Newburyport, MA

May 16, 2014

State needs a two-party system

Newburyport Daily News

---- — To the editor:

Massachusetts is one of the most one-party states in the country. In our 200-member Legislature, Republicans have only 30 out of 160 state representatives and just four of 40 state senators. Democrats also currently hold the offices of governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, auditor and treasurer. And if ever there was more proof needed to show how much we need a two-party system in the commonwealth, one need only look at all the votes on Beacon Hill that fall completely along party lines.

The first formal session in the House on Joint Rules for the 118th Session of the General Court where some state reps tried to introduce rules changes that would provide more transparency. One such change was an amendment to Rule 11B that would require conference committee reports to be available to the public online and to the General Court for a minimum of 24 hours prior to its consideration. All 29 Republicans (Leah Cole was not yet elected) voted for this change, but all 124 Democrats voted against it.

Another rules change would have eliminated the ability of committees to endlessly study legislation rather than reporting bills favorably or adversely. Again this was shot down by a straight party-line vote.

Much of what gets decided on Beacon Hill is done in committee hearings where legislators vote on various measures. In order to help voters know how their elected officials voted, there was a rules change proposal that would require the results of all committee polls to be posted online; every Democrat voted against this measure.

Republicans also tried to implement rules changes that would require a supermajority to increase taxes and prevent tax increases from being taken up at the end of session. Sadly for taxpayers, every Democrat in the House voted against these reasonable changes. Ditto for a new rule requiring a supermajority to take money from the Rainy Day Account.

One needs to ask: What are Democrats afraid of since they already have a supermajority?

Even more chilling for voters is the historical evidence of one-party rule in other states. Places like California, New York, Rhode Island and Illinois have financial situations we should try to avoid, not emulate. As it is, we are following in their footsteps.

Anne Tentindo