Lawmakers pass major bills as 2-year session ends
BOSTON (AP) - Massachusetts lawmakers have approved several major pieces of legislation, blowing past a midnight deadline in a somewhat chaotic finish to the end of formal meetings in their two-year session.
Among those bills sent to Gov. Deval Patrick in the closing minutes was a major overhaul of the state's gun laws.
The bill would give police chiefs the right to go to court to deny firearms identification cards needed to buy rifles or shotguns to individuals they feel are unsuitable, much like the discretion they currently have over issuing licenses to carry concealed weapons.
Other bills winning final approval would make changes to domestic violence laws, address the state's substance abuse troubles, toughen campaign finance laws, and authorize a sales tax holiday on the weekend of Aug. 16-17.
Patrick has 10 days to sign the bills.
CAMPAIGN FINANCE BILL
PAC disclosure bill heading to Gov. Patrick's desk
BOSTON (AP) - A bill designed to tighten reporting requirements for independent political expenditures, including those made by political action committees known as super PACs is heading to Gov. Deval Patrick's desk.
Under the bill given final approval Thursday, corporations, labor unions and political committees would be required to file a campaign finance report within seven days of making an independent expenditure - or within 24 hours if the expenditure is made within 10 days of an election.
The bill also doubles the amount an individual could donate to a candidate in a calendar year from $500 to $1,000.
Critics have faulted a portion of the bill requiring that voter guides mailed out by the state secretary's office include a statement explaining the fiscal impact of each ballot question on local and state government budgets starting in 2015.
States remind Market Basket of workers' rights
BOSTON (AP) - Massachusetts and New Hampshire officials are telling the Market Basket supermarket chain they'll be looking out for the legal rights of any workers fired in a protest over the family-owned company's leadership.
Attorneys General Martha Coakley and Joseph Foster also urged the company Thursday to consider its impact on other businesses in the region, where it employs about 25,000 and has 71 stores.
Co-CEOs Felicia Thornton and Jim Gooch said they "hope sincerely" not to fire anyone and they'll follow the law. They said Wednesday workers off the job demanding the return of fired CEO Arthur T. Demoulas must return by Monday.
Demoulas' supporters have held protest rallies and shut down deliveries to stores.
The company's board is evaluating buyout offers, including one from Demoulas. He was fired by the board which is controlled by his cousin.
Appeal to be filed Aug. 14 for Whitey Bulger
BOSTON (AP) - Lawyers for former crime boss James "Whitey" Bulger say they'll file their appeal of his 2013 convictions with the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Aug. 14.
Eighty-four-year-old Bulger is serving life in prison. He was convicted in a broad racketeering case, including 11 killings and other gangland crimes in the 1970s and 80s.
The notice Thursday didn't give details. Bulger's lawyers have said he believes he should have been allowed to argue that a now-deceased federal prosecutor gave him immunity.
Bulger headed Boston's Irish mob and was an FBI informant against the rival New England Mafia. His case became a major embarrassment for the FBI when it was learned corrupt Boston agents took bribes from him and protected him.
He was a fugitive for 16 years until his 2011 arrest in California.
Officials: US citizen killed by bandits in Haiti
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) - U.S. officials say an American citizen of Haitian descent was killed by armed robbers shortly after arriving in her Caribbean homeland to visit relatives.
The U.S. State Department on Thursday identified the victim as Myriam Saint Germain. She lived in Boston, Massachusetts, and had worked as a health assistant at Harvard University the last five years. She had two children.
Officials with Haiti's national police declined to provide information about the investigation into the killing.
Saint Germain was apparently killed by gunmen last Friday, not long after arriving at the international airport in Port-au-Prince.
Last month, the U.S. Embassy noted an increase in the number of travelers who had been robbed shortly after departing the airport.
IG: Dobelle billed school for personal expenses
BOSTON (AP) - State Inspector General Glenn A. Cunha says a former Westfield State University president racked up tens of thousands of dollars in personal expenses and travel costs on university credit cards.
In a 71-page report released Thursday, Cunha's office said Evan Dobelle, who resigned in November 2013, charged the university for two e-book readers, a digital camera and a laptop computer using university funds. It says he also frequently billed personal trips to the university, claiming they were for meetings with prospective donors.
The office launched the review last July following media reports of Dobell's questionable expenses. Interim University President Elizabeth Hall Preston said Thursday that the university has taken a number of steps to improve financial controls.
Dobelle has said his spending was to promote the university, and filed a lawsuit alleging he was unfairly forced out.
US Sen. Warren to tour Massachusetts cities, towns
BOSTON (AP) - U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren is taking advantage of the congressional break to tour Massachusetts cities and towns.
The Democratic lawmaker says she wants to talk about what she calls her agenda of fighting for Massachusetts and a level playing field for middle class families.
Warren will begin her swing through the state Friday morning with a visit to Revere City Hall to meet with Mayor Daniel Rizzo before stopping by the Charlton Fire Department. The state's congressional delegation recently helped the town secure $900,000 for a firefighting truck.
Warren then plans to head to Holyoke to visit a summer program aimed at helping girls from Holyoke, Springfield and Chicopee learn about science.
Warren will end the day in Springfield attending the swearing-in of Mark Mastroianni as a judge on the U.S. District Court for Massachusetts.
FEDERAL COURT NOMINEE
Obama nominates attorney for US District Court
BOSTON (AP) - President Barack Obama has nominated attorney Allison Dale Burroughs to serve on the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts.
Burroughs is a partner at law firm of Nutter McClennen & Fish, LLP, where she represents individuals and corporations in criminal and civil proceedings primarily before federal courts.
Burroughs previously served as an Assistant United States Attorney - first in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania from 1989 to 1995 and later in the District of Massachusetts from 1995 to 2005.
She began her career as a law clerk for Judge Norma Shapiro of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania in 1988.
Burroughs is a graduate of University of Pennsylvania Law School and Middlebury College.
New justice joins Massachusetts high court
BOSTON (AP) - Gov. Deval Patrick has administered the oath of office to the newest member of the state's highest court.
Geraldine Hines is the first black woman to serve on the seven-member Supreme Judicial Court. She was sworn-in as an associate justice during a ceremony Thursday.
Patrick praised what he called Hines' "extraordinary combination of intelligence and compassion."
Hines was appointed to the Superior Court by the late Gov. Paul Cellucci in 2001, and was named by Patrick to serve on the state appeals court last year.
Earlier this month, the governor's council unanimously approved Hines' nomination to the SJC.
She fills the vacancy left when Ralph Gants was elevated from associate justice to chief justice of the court, replacing Roderick Ireland who retired after 17 years on the high court, the last four as chief justice.
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