Capitol Comments



Region – As the weather turns cooler and the Red Sox plan out their road to the postseason (we hope!), the Legislature has resumed holding regular full formal sessions. Beacon Hill happenings include —

Veto overrides: The House restored approximately $37 million to the 2008 state budget by overriding the governor's vetoes. The appropriations included $2 million for senior care at MassHealth, $2.35 million for the Department of Fire Services, $1.2 million for an educational fire safety program for children, $110,000 for agricultural resources, $300,000 for family shelters, and $550,000 for state parks and recreation.

Bills, hearings and meetings: Hearings have taken place on proposed rules for limited service clinics in Massachusetts pharmacies such as CVS, which have already introduced their "Minute Clinics" in stores. The clinics aim to help residents receive very basic health care without making a trip to the doctor's office, hospital or community health center. Opponents of the clinics fear that the clinic treatments could be inadequate.

Bills dealing with broader use of animal traps are being considered including one that would create a wildlife management commission. Another bill under consideration would deal with control of the overpopulation of coyotes.

The commonwealth's Health Care Quality & Cost Council is discussing issues such as preventing hospital acquired infections, the public reporting of comparative health care quality and cost data, and reducing disparities in health care.

Initiative petitions: The content of 13 initiative petitions was recently reviewed and approved by the Attorney General's office. Proponents of each petition must now collect 66,593 signatures of registered voters by Dec. 5, 2007, to ensure that that particular petition will be sent to the Legislature. The petitions that have been proposed deal with prohibiting greyhound racing, decriminalizing the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana, eliminating the state income tax, limiting the growth of local property taxes, eliminating the annual motor excise tax and repealing the law establishing a comprehensive permitting process for aff ordable housing projects. Certified initiative petitions for constitutional amendments would lower the voting age to 16, create a new method for amending the constitution by initiative petisions tion, and authorize the people of Massachusetts to delegate certain powers to a global federal union of democratic nations.

September is Awareness Month: September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month and Spinal Cord Injury Month. Ovarian cancer is the fifth leading cause of cancer death and the seventh most common cancer in American women. Women with a close family member (i.e., mother, daughter, sister, aunt, grandmother) who has had the disease are at greater risk. Women who have had colon, endometrial or breast cancer also have a greater chance of developing ovarian cancer. For further information, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at www.cdc. gov/cancer/ovarian or www.

Every year in the United States, approximately 10,000 spinal cord injuries occur. About 50 percent of all spinal cord injuries happen during a motor vehicle accident. Falls, acts of violence and sporting accidents also result in injuries. Alcohol and drug abuse are major factors in spinal cord injuries. Although these injuries can happen to anyone of any age at any given time, spinal cord injury patients are most frequently males between the ages of 19 and 26. Visit www. for more information.

Falls Awareness Day: The governor and advocates for fall prevention gathered at the State House recently for Falls Awareness Day. Did you know that 25,000 hospital admis- annually in Massachusetts are caused by avoidable falls? Costs for these falls total more than $300 million, but the emotional and psychological stakes are even higher — depression, feelings of hopelessness, and loss of mobility and functional independence are some eff ects of falls.

As always, please feel free to share your questions, comments or opinions with me by calling (617) 722-2430; writing to Room 236 State House, Boston, MA 02133; or sending e-mail to [email protected] Editor's note: Rep. Walrath serves the 3rd Middlesex District of Hudson, Bolton, Maynard and Stow.