|Over three days and three nights of debate, the Senate budget grew by $75.5 million as senators worked through some 1,200 amendments. The debate went in fits and starts, and President Harriette Chandler put her experience as a teacher at Worcester's North High School to use as she repeatedly had to bang the gavel and ask, tell, implore and sometimes beg everyone to be quiet and pay attention.|
At one point Thursday afternoon, Chandler asked senators to keep their remarks brief so they could get through the 150+ amendments that remained. Instead, senators took to the podium to talk about the importance of the next five amendments, only to then withdraw them.
No matter the time, senators continued their parade to the podiums in Gardner Auditorium to tout their amendments, the pet projects they would fund and, of course, to pose for a picture that could be tweeted in an attempt to climb up the Senate's in-house social media rankings.
After 1 a.m. Friday, once the budget had been adopted unanimously and everyone had been thoroughly thanked, Chandler had one final announcement for her colleagues:
"Because of the lateness of the hour, there will not be an ice cream party as there usually has been in the past. Instead, we are meeting again on Thursday of next week and we will have the ice cream party after that. OK?"
House Democrats celebrated on Wednesday evening, after passing a controversial bill allowing a judge to take away someone's guns if they pose a threat to themselves or others.
The bill picked up steam on Beacon Hill in the wakes of mass shootings around the country this year, though it was fiercely opposed by the Gun Owners Action League and several House Republicans who argued that the bill missed its opportunity to focus on mental health as a cause of gun violence and suicide.
The "red flag" bill ultimately cleared the House 139-14, with two Democrats -- Reps. Colleen Garry of Dracut and Jonathan Zlotnik of Gardner -- joining 11 of 34 Republicans and one independent, Rep. Susannah Whipps, voting against the measure before House Speaker Bob DeLeo and bill sponsor Rep. Marjorie Decker celebrated with advocates in the speaker's chambers.
Passage of the "red flag" bill was a fairly safe bet, but DeLeo this week set the odds on legalizing sports betting in Massachusetts way back when he declared that it is likely too complex of an issue to handle in the two months left of formal sessions.
"I think that there are so many questions that have to be answered and I think that right now for us to be able to expect to do this within the last two months of session, I'm not saying we're not going to talk about it, we're going continue to try to come to some type of an answer yes or no, but what I'm saying is I think it would be very, very difficult," DeLeo said, dashing the hopes of bettors.