Legislature Goes Through – Not Around – Tough Issues

By: State Rep. Linda Dean Campbell – August, 2014

This session produced many important pieces of legislation: On-line voter registration and challenges to Citizens United that require a listing of the top contributors to Political Action Committees (PACs) on TV ads. This will help us sort through some smoke in this coming election; Increased legal and civil protections for the victims of abuse;

A responsible minimum wage increase supported by the business community that helps our working poor and circulates money in our local economy; Reforms for Welfare, Compounding Pharmacies, and the Probation Department; A balanced budget that will maintain our highest bond rating ever while also maintaining healthy reserves; An increase in local aid; Unemployment insurance reform; Spending which targets long-term substance abuse treatment, prevention and the suppression of narcotics distribution.
We could have stopped here and it would have been an extremely productive session. But we also put forward a balanced firearms bill whose goal is to reduce death through the use of illegal firearms.

The Massachusetts Gun Owners Action League (GOAL) ultimately supported this legislation because it targets the right areas while making it easier for legal firearm owners to legally possess, purchase, trade and sell their firearms. It forces the Commonwealth to participate in the National Criminal Instant Check System and it will require that all firearms purchasers be checked at the time of sale, an important measure to enable law enforcement to trace the illegal transfer of weapons to a source. Ultimately, it will greatly streamline the process for those who buy and sell firearms legally. The law will now hold blameless those who have applied for a license renewal within ninety days of its expiration date and otherwise reduce the civil penalty for forgetting to renew to $100 versus $500 previously.

We also put forth legislation responding to a Supreme Court decision outlawing buffer zones around women’s health clinics. As a practicing Catholic, I believe that one abortion is too many and that those opposed to abortion have the right to free speech. However, we must also take into account that those using clinics have a right to safe entry and that abortions comprise approximately 8% of the health care provided at these clinics for low-income women. The new legislation is not problem- free but may serve as a workable compromise. Time will tell.

Representative Campbell serves as Vice Chair on the Committee on Election Laws and also serves on the Committees on Ways and Means and Public Safety. She Represents the Cities of Methuen and Haverhill in the Legislature. She is up for reelection this year but has no primary opponent.