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Black Helicopter/Swine Flu Follow-Up: Massachusetts’ Health Emergency & Pandemic Preparedness Bill

Posted on : Oct-14-2009 | By : Joshua | In : Blog Post

Tags: , , , ,

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Some of you may remember the post I made a few weeks ago mocking overreactions to the passage of a bill in the Mass State Senate enumerating powers of the state’s public health commissioner during declared public health emergencies. The Somerville Journal has a very thorough article today reporting on the passage of the House version of the public health emergency bill.

The Somerville Journal article does a nice job of describing the differences between the two bills and what, exactly, the point of this whole thing is. Newsflash: it’s not to enable government redtrucks to socialise the fire departments and spray H1N1 on you from their firehoses.

What I also find interesting is the related motion to delay voting on the public health emergency bill. What, exactly, was the point of that, if not pure and simple obstructionism? Oh. Well, I guess I have my answer.

While we’re discussing the State Legislature, there’s another interesting bill up: Allow Students To Express Religious Views (H 376). To quote:

The Education Committee’s hearing also includes a bill that would require local school districts to implement a policy that would allow for a “limited public forum and voluntary student expression of religious views at school events, graduation ceremonies, in class assignments and non-curricular school groups and activities.” The measure also prohibits schools from discriminating against any student on the basis of his or her expressed religious views.

Any thoughts on this? To me, the key word is “voluntary”, which I don’t have a problem with, but do we need a law for that?

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Comments (6)

Hmm…I’m not sure about the “class assignments” bit. Would taking points off for a student espousing creationist ideas when asked to discuss the science of evolution be considered discriminatory under H376?

I’m curious about the intent and impetus behind this bill.

That’s the big question. If you check the relevant chapter of the Mass General Laws, there are already sections allowing moments of silence and voluntary school prayer. So what’s the point? I have trouble seeing this as anything other than yet another backdoor attempt by would-be theocrats to carve out special time to proselytise on school time.

For the record, here’s the text of the bill under consideration, along with a list of the sponsors: http://www.mass.gov/legis/bills/house/186/ht00/ht00376.htm

My instinct is to say that, barring a more explicit definition, especially around the “in classroom assignments” bit, it should be thrown out. The current version fairly stinks of “teach the controversy”.

Do any readers live in one of the sponsors’ districts? (Find out here: http://www.wheredoivotema.com/bal/myelectioninfo.php) It’d be nice for a constituent to call or e-mail one of the sponsors and ask for a clarification about the bill.

(My own state rep isn’t on the sponsor list, so I could call, but it wouldn’t have the same weight.)

Your link was broken. Here’s a list of legislators by town: http://www.mass.gov/legis/city_town.htm

Unfortunately (or fortunately), my rep isn’t on there, either.

Students are entitled to whine that they’re being persecuted when they fail a biology test because they filled the answer blanks with “GODDIDIT.” That doesn’t mean they’re right. Maybe we need a state law affirming the right of teachers to tell them, “Grow up.”

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