Monthly Archives: February 2017

Let the Criminal-Justice Reform Debate Begin

After months of anticipation, the Council of State Governments’ Justice Center (CSG) finally released its report and recommendations on the Massachusetts criminal-justice system.  Eighteen months ago, the leaders of all three branches of government — Governor Charlie Baker, Chief Justice Ralph Gants of the Supreme Judicial Court, Senate President Stanley Rosenberg, and Speaker of the House Robert DeLeo — formally invited CSG to undertake such a review, and a Tuesday-morning press conference attended by all four leaders heralded the end product.

Governor Baker immediately filed legislation to implement some of CSG’s recommendations, while emphasizing that the full report represents a consensus among all the leaders, who collectively made up the steering committee that worked closely with CSG staff throughout the process — as did a broader working group of 25 additional stakeholders.  The legislation will be taken up by the Legislature, as will additional bills to address issues that were not included in the report.  Collectively, this criminal-justice reform debate will be one of the top priorities on Beacon Hill between now and the July 2018 end of this legislative session.

Look back at the July 2015 letter that started the review process — with Massachusetts now one of 26 states to have brought CSG in for their technical assistance and data-driven approach to help improve efficiencies and outcomes in criminal justice.  You’ll see that it was carefully crafted to achieve initial consensus among the signers, with language targeted at very specific aspects of the system and discrete goals for the project.  Here’s the key sentence:

“Without limiting the scope of your data analysis, we hope, looking at the data as a whole, to better understand how we can further reduce recidivism and enable successful re-entry, and whether we can further reduce our prison and jail populations through early release programs while ensuring appropriate punishment and preserving public safety.”

Reform advocates were concerned from the outset that the scope of the review would thus be too limited — in particular, that it would be focused on the so-called back-end of the system, recidivism and re-entry, to the exclusion of “front-end” issues such as diversion, bail, and sentencing.  As it turned out, there is indeed more or less a straight line from the request letter to the final report, which doesn’t extend the scope beyond what was initially proposed.  State leaders argue that this was the only way to achieve consensus, and that there will be time this session for both houses to consider the many legislative proposals for further action.

These proposals cover not only the three areas cited above but also issues like:

  • further reform of the state’s laws on criminal offender record information (CORI)
  • relieving the burden of fees and fines on defendants and ex-offenders
  • lifting or alleviating more of the hundreds of collateral consequences that are tied to criminal records and, like the above two, create roadblocks to successful reintegration after release from incarceration — or any involvement with the justice system, even short of incarceration — by making it difficult to secure employment, housing, government benefits, and so on
  • allowing greater opportunity to seek expungement of criminal records
  • providing a way for elderly or disabled inmates to obtain extraordinary release, as in the federal system
  • increasing the threshold for felony-level larceny, which has remained unchanged for decades, in spite of erosion by inflation
  • making parole a presumption to be denied only when justified

Despite growing political pressure, as it became clear that the report would likely hew to its original narrow scope, the report unveiled this week was silent on all of the above.  On perhaps the biggest such flash-point, efforts to roll back some of the state’s mandatory-minimum sentences, however, state leaders were quick to point to a recommendation that had not been publicly-broached before — one that would offer all inmates, including those serving mandatory sentences for certain drug offenses (not involving opioids, minors, firearms, or violence), a greater opportunity to accrue “earned time” for participation in programs designed to improve their chances of successful re-integration.  This would, in turn, reduce recidivism.

It gets somewhat complicated here, but basically, earned time will be available, within limits, to move up a DOC inmate’s parole-eligibility date.  Those who are not paroled and instead “wrap up” their sentences will also be released earlier based on earned time, but they will be under supervision for the remaining period of their sentences.  This addresses one key CSG finding — which was not exactly a secret beforehand: Too many inmates are serving out their sentences and being released directly to the street with no supervision — a recipe for unnecessarily high recidivism rates.  But it also addresses the concern that any mandatory post-release supervision program not have the effect of extending an inmate’s time within the system.

Many questions remain about this approach: Will it have the effect of reducing time served under mandatory sentences without actually changing the statutes that impose them?  Will prison programming be made available to meet the anticipated increased need that this change seeks to create?  Will judges modify their sentencing practices by reducing the use of “and a day” sentences — those in which the minimum is set at the mandated level but the maximum is only one day later?  (These are viewed by some as a judicial expression that the mandatory minimum in a given case is too high, but they also result in releases without supervision, because parole is not a real possibility.)

These contours of the debate to come at the Legislature were explored by an all-star panel at a BBA event held the day after the CSG report — with both praise for the final recommendations and some calls for further action on display from panelists, all of whom worked with CSG.  For his part, Michael O’Keefe, District Attorney for the Cape & Islands, argued that with incarceration rates near the bottom in the US, and continuing to decline, the CSG focus on recidivism — what he called the “weak point” in our justice system — was properly placed.  Massachusetts recidivism rates are in the middle of the pack, but we can do better, he argued, if we invest in programming and supervision.

State Senator Will Brownsberger, Senate Chair of the Legislature’s Judiciary Committee, told attendees that the system isn’t broken, yet it does create a footprint that’s too big.  He sees prisons and jails that are too full by historical standards, and in comparison to other developed democracies, and he wants to try to reduce collateral consequences as well.

To Randy Gioia, Deputy Chief Counsel of the Public Defender Division at the Committee for Public Counsel Services (CPCS), the CSG report creates a “once in a lifetime opportunity” to do something big on criminal-justice reform but won’t generate enough savings by reducing incarceration.  Those savings are needed, he says, to invest in the same high-risk communities that have been devastated by the upswing in imprisonment over the past several decades.  Only then will the cycle of recidivism be broken.

Former State Representative John Fernandes, recently retired as House Chair of the Legislature’s Judiciary Committee, pointed out that the report had to be as limited as it is, so that all participants could emerge pledging to see its recommendations through to execution.  The review, he said, “was never intended to change everything in one package.”  Nevertheless, it represents a first step that can be built upon later.

Lon Povich, Chief Legal Counsel to Governor Baker, noted that the Governor’s recent budget already provides $3.5 million to fund the first-year costs of implementing the report’s recommendations.  He’d like to see the CSG legislation passed soon, with further reform efforts taken up thereafter, and he particularly pointed to collateral consequences as an important area to work on in order to drive down recidivism rates.

Superior Court Judge Jack Lu took part in his role as chair of the Sentencing Commission, which is working on a rewrite of the state’s sentencing guidelines.  Those guidelines remain advisory, because they have never been enacted.  Judge Lu promised the Commission would offer “state of the art” data-driven guidelines but predicted that they would “move the needle” rather than call for sweeping sentencing changes.

Judge Paula Carey, Chief Justice of the Trial Court, praised the CSG’s work as an unprecedented cooperative effort by all three branches, resulting in a three-pronged approach going forward: legislative (in the form of the bill filed by the Governor), but also administrative and budgetary.

So implementation is now in the hands of the leaders who kick-started this effort a year-and-a-half ago.  How it plays out over the year-and-a-half (actually a little less) remaining in the 2017-18 session — and beyond — remains to be seen.  But with an internal working group already reviewing the CSG report and contemplating recommendations for reforms that would go further toward improving our system of justice, you can be sure the BBA will be a part of that debate.

—Michael Avitzur
Government Relations Director
Boston Bar Association

Initial Read on the FY18 Budget

We’re still in the early stages of discussions over the state budget for Fiscal Year 2018 (FY18), which starts on July 1, but this is nevertheless a good moment to review what’s gone on thus far.

The first official step in the process is for the Governor and the two houses of the Legislature to agree on a figure — known as the consensus revenue estimate — that represents the amount of money they expect the state to collect in taxes during the coming fiscal year.  This time, the figure is about $27.07 million, or 3.9% (just over $1 billion) more than they’re estimating in the current year (FY17), which is now more than half over.  If the estimate comes to fruition, it will represent a significant increase in revenue growth over the current and past fiscal years, during which state coffers have expanded at a rate of about 2.3%.

As reported by the State House News Service, Senate Ways and Means Chairwoman Sen. Karen Spilka said in a statement, “This conservative estimate reflects our cautious optimism about the Commonwealth’s economic position. Throughout the fiscal year 2018 budget process, we will continue to carefully monitor revenue performance to build a fiscally responsible, balanced budget that invests in the health and prosperity of people and communities across the state.”

Kristen Lepore, Secretary of Administration and Finance under Governor Baker, used the word “modest” to describe the projected growth, which she told State House News is “in line with testimony we heard in December” at the annual consensus revenue hearing.  And according to Sen. Spilka’s House counterpart, Rep. Brian Dempsey, “This Consensus Revenue agreement reflects continued stable growth and is in line with current economic trends.”

Unless there are major changes in the state’s fiscal outlook over the next few months — such as last spring, when legislators had to react, in the middle of the budget-drafting cycle, to news that revenues were plummeting well below projections — that figure of $27.07 million will be the final revenue amount that each of the three stakeholders (the Governor, the House, and the Senate) will use to draft their individual budget plans.

In fact, Governor Charlie Baker has already put forward his proposal, filing a bill with the House that’s known, in odd-numbered years, as H. 1, or “House 1.”  (In even-numbered years, it’s called H. 2.)  Although the two houses’ budget-writers are free to tear up the Governor’s budget and pursue their own priorities as they wish, that bill and the consensus revenue estimate set a tone for the debate that unfolds thereafter.

Here’s what we know so far on three of the BBA’s long-standing budget priorities:

Trial Court funding

The Governor provided for a 1% increase in appropriations for the Judiciary, for a total of $646.8 million.  This is slightly less than the courts’ maintenance-budget request of $649.5 million — that is, the amount they would need in order to merely continue providing the same level of services that they’re able to this year.  But the Legislature has been generous with court funding in recent years, and there is reason to hope that the budget that emerges from that body will fund the judiciary at a higher level — as has been the case lately.

Housing Court expansion

For the second year in a row, the Governor made funding available in his budget to cover an expansion of the state’s effective and efficient Housing Court, to provide statewide jurisdiction.  As we’ve written here previously, barely two-thirds of the state’s population currently has access to the Housing Court, which offers expert judges, trained mediation specialists, and a streamlined process dedicated to housing, homelessness, and municipal code-enforcement issues — not to mention that it boasts the lowest cost-per-case across all court departments.  We couldn’t get this expansion all the way through the budget process last year (it was dropped by the conference committee), but we are certainly trying again this year, and H. 1 is a good start.

Funding for civil legal aid

Walk to the Hill, held three weeks ago, is the big annual kick-off in the drive to support the line-item appropriation for the Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation (MLAC) — the state’s leading provider of funds for legal-services agencies.  If this year’s event is any indication, there’s reason for great optimism.  We have a great story to tell about civil legal aid, based on the findings of a 2014 BBA task-force report that demonstrated the positive return on investment the state achieves from such expenditures, which help low-income residents struggling with problems like domestic violence, threatened evictions, and an inability to secure the federal benefits to which they’re entitled.

But we will need to rely on that evidence, as well as the broad support enjoyed by civil legal aid both in the legal community — as shown by the 700+ attorneys who showed up at the State House for Walk to the Hill, to rally for MLAC and speak with their legislators — and in the Legislature — which has consistently provided increases over the past few years to try to close the justice gap that results when the number of people seeking legal help far outstrips the ability of the agencies to meet that need.  (Our report estimated that 64% of qualified applicants for legal aid must be turned away.)

I say we’ll need to rely again on those resources, because the Governor’s budget calls for only a 1% in the MLAC line-item (as with the judiciary — see above).  That comes out to $18.18 million, at a time when we are asking for an increase to $23 million.  We’ve done it before, though: The Legislature has come through with an aggregate 20% increase in funding over the past two fiscal years — a time when, as noted above, revenues have barely grown by 2% annually.

The next major step in the process doesn’t come until mid-April, when the House Ways & Means Committee will release its budget, triggering a flurry of amendments from the 160 House members seeking changes during the marathon floor debate.  And then the ball will be in the Senate’s court until they pass their own version of a budget in May.  Next comes a conference committee to reconcile the inevitable differences between the two houses’ budgets.  And when the conferees reach agreement, and their respective houses concur (typically a mere formality), that final legislative budget goes to the Governor for his signature, with the prerogative for line-item vetoes that the Legislature can then try to override.

Along the way, there will be plenty of opportunities for the BBA, and other groups, to advocate for their priorities.  So watch for action alerts on the budget coming from us, because we will likely be seeking your help in reaching out to your elected representatives in conjunction with our efforts.  And watch this space for regular updates, as the debate unfolds.  In the meantime, if you’re interested in a little more detail on the process, you can check out this Issue Spot podcast, which focuses on MLAC funding.

—Michael Avitzur
Government Relations Director
Boston Bar Association


State House Forecast for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties

A recent discussion at the BBA addressed the question of what the new 2017-2018 legislative session may hold in store for legislation on civil rights and civil liberties.  We were joined by a truly all-star panel, starting with our moderator, Kate Cook of Sugarman Rogers, who currently co-chairs our Civil Rights & Civil Liberties Section, and who was previously Governor Deval Patrick’s chief legal counsel.  The event also featured:

These four insiders came by to offer their assessments of the hot topics set to be debated at the State House over the next two years (well, year-and-a-half, really, since formal sessions end on July 31, 2018).

For Sen. Eldridge, the focus will be on criminal-justice reform and immigration.  In his continuing role as co-chair of the Harm Reduction Caucus, the Senator will be in a good position to help lead the dialogue on criminal justice, and among his priorities are reform of the bail system, elimination of racial disparities, and repeal of mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenders.  He has also filed the Safe Communities Act, which would prevent the state from offering any support for a potential Muslim registry, prohibit agreements with the federal government to deputize local law-enforcement as immigration agents, bar local officers from taking part in immigration enforcement generally, and guarantee basic due-process rights for people detained on civil immigration violations.  Sen. Eldridge mentioned that he’d earlier that day participated in a rally in support of immigrants at the Irish Famine Memorial in Boston.

Rep. Rushing had his eye cast toward Washington, D.C.  For him, the new Administration — which was just taking shape at the time of this event, held hours before the controversial executive order on immigration was promulgated — offered both challenges and opportunities, and he suggested that there may come a time when the proper response will be for the state to openly defy federal mandates, just as Massachusetts did when runaway slaves arrived here.

Rep. Harrington offered a note of caution on what her colleagues had said, pointing out that the Supremacy Clause makes it difficult for a state to pass a law declaring its intention to disobey a law of Congress — especially when federal dollars are at stake.  Still, she found common ground with Sen. Eldridge on criminal justice, noting that the bail system is part of the comprehensive review of the Massachusetts system being conducted by the Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center.  She also said that evidence in support of restorative justice programs, which Sen. Eldridge has championed, is “very compelling”, and she offered her support on not only bail and mandatory minimums but also diversion of cases outside the system, and limits on solitary confinement.

To Rep. Harrington, shared parenting is also a civil-rights issue, encompassing the rights of children to have good relations with both parents.  The focus, she said, should always be on the best interests of the child.  She also brought up the state’s new marijuana-legalization law, noting that bills to make changes to the language passed by voters in November have been filed by seemingly every other legislator.  Her e-mail inbox, she said, was “rolling in marijuana bills” (get it?)

Rep. Rushing pointed out that Blacks use marijuana at the same rate as other groups yet have been convicted on such charges at rates many times higher than others.  In the implementation of the recent medical-marijuana law, he also sees a possible bias — one that has disadvantaged people of color who apply for licenses as providers.  He would like to see the new Cannabis Control Commission reach out to communities that have been historically harmed by marijuana prohibition and, a historian himself, he suggested looking back to the 21st Amendment ending the alcohol prohibition — the last time a controlled substance was legalized — for guidance.

Like Sen. Eldridge, the ACLU will have its eyes on criminal justice and immigration this session.  Their Fundamental Freedoms Act would protect Massachusetts residents from government monitoring by barring state participation in any discriminatory registration system based on religion, national origin or immigration status, and enhancing safeguards for protestors from information-gathering about them based only on protected First Amendment activity.  As Rahsaan Hall put it, “expressions of dissent are patriotic,” and such dissent is a founding principle of America.

He took some issue with the process being followed by the CSG group on criminal justice, calling it “a little short-sighted” in its focus on reducing recidivism without giving due consideration to how people enter the system.  The pressure is thus on advocates to build on that, such as by addressing racial disparities — which, he argued, will remain a feature of the system until direct action is taken.

To this, Rep. Rushing said he’d filed two bills calling for greater collection and uniformity of data.  Rep. Harrington asked how best to tweak laws that aren’t facially discriminatory yet have that outcome.  If the system is structurally biased, that’s what happens, said Rep. Rushing, who said fixes can include requiring police officers to hand out business cards upon any public interaction, providing better training of officers in handling such stops, and video-recording all stops.

Although Black and Latino residents make up only 21% of the state’s population, they comprise 75% of state inmates serving drug-related mandatory minimum sentences.  We must, Hall said, identify and analyze the drivers behind those figures.  And to those who would point to Massachusetts’ low incarceration rate compared to other states’ to make the case against reforms, Hall alluded to the U.S.’s position as an extreme outlier among developed nations, warning, “Let’s not celebrate being the best of the worst.”

Look at the effect of school-zone laws — tacking on additional mandatory jail time for drug offenses near school, parks, and playgrounds — said Rep. Rushing, calling it “straight-out racial punishment in cities.”  As an example, 90% of Boston land falls within such a zone, far more than in suburban and rural communities.  And let’s dispense with viewing marijuana as a gateway drug for users, he said.  Instead, it’s a gateway drug for sellers, “who’ll sell [marijuana users] something else as soon as they can” — something “incredibly dangerous”.  According to Rep. Rushing, taxing it like alcohol will end that black market; taxing it more heavily, like cigarettes — that is, as a way to get users to stop — will not.

For her part, Rep. Harrington remained unmoved.  Legislative hearings, which she attended in her role on the Judiciary Committee, offered no convincing evidence for legalization, and the Legislature’s delegation to Colorado, which preceded the Commonwealth down that path, learned of a panoply of problems in that state.  For example, we have no measurement tool for drivers impaired by marijuana, adults will get high at inappropriate times (such as while watching their kids) simply because it’s now “OK”, and the lack of any restriction on marketing edible doses will also have negative consequences.  In the end, for her, this question is not even a civil-rights issue.

Cook closed by asking the panelists how else they were seeking to protect civil rights and Massachusetts values.  Hall spoke about electronic-privacy protections and access to reproductive health care.  Rep. Rushing mentioned his efforts to repeal a variety of unconstitutional statutes that remain in the Massachusetts General Laws and thus can potentially find new life — such as existing anti-abortion laws that could go back into effect if Roe v. Wade were overturned.  Rep. Harrington returned to the immigration issue, saying we have to “walk a tightrope” between enforcement and protection of rights … at least until the federal government takes responsibility for it.  And Sen. Eldridge brought up protection from the impact of climate change and development of renewable energy.

We came away with a better understanding of the debates to come in Massachusetts.  Meanwhile, just in the days since this discussion, events at the federal level have conspired to put civil rights and civil liberties front and center of a national debate as well.

—Michael Avitzur
Government Relations Director
Boston Bar Association

Walking for Justice

Another Walk to the Hill is in the books, and while it may be something of a cliché to say that the speakers, organizers, and participants outdo themselves every year, that proposition certainly seemed to be right on the money last Thursday for the 2017 edition.

Don’t believe it?  Check out our new Issue Spot podcast on Walk to the Hill to hear from some of the participants, some of the volunteers who showed up to meet with their elected representatives at the State House, and one State Senator who spoke to us about the critical importance of constituents showing up at legislative offices to share their personal stories and their insights about the importance of state funding for civil legal aid.

Speaking of showing up, about 700 lawyers came out on a balmy January day, to gather in the Great Hall.  (Many were delayed, in entering the State House, by a malfunctioning metal detector at the main entrance—leading some to joke that the Walk to the Hill crowd had broken it by dint of their sheer numbers.)  It is said that this is the largest annual advocacy event of its kind in Massachusetts, and that tremendous turnout, year after year, has helped build a solid base of support among Senators and Representatives.

You can see the effect of that support reflected in the numbers: Over the past two fiscal years, the Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation (MLAC), the state’s largest provider of funding to legal-services organizations throughout the Commonwealth, has seen its line-item in the state budget grow by 20%, from $15 million to $18 million—even at a time of great fiscal constraints, when most other line-items are growing much more slowly, if at all.

BBA President Carol Starkey:
“At the Boston Bar Association, we’re ready to fight” for civil legal aid.

Another reason for that increase?  The BBA’s own Investing in Justice report, which demonstrated in 2014 the positive return on investment the state achieves from civil legal aid.  For example, for every $1 spent helping fight against wrongful evictions and foreclosures, Massachusetts saves $2.69 in shelter, health care, foster care, and law enforcement costs.  In addition, every $1 spent on legal aid for survivors of domestic violence results in $2 in medical and mental health care savings, and every $1 spent on legal aid attorneys working to secure federal benefits yields $5 in federal economic benefits to Massachusetts residents.  That report was the culmination of the hard work of our Statewide Task Force to Expand Civil Legal Aid in Massachusetts, as well as the three independent economic consultants who conducted the underlying analysis.

That report has been the foundation for advocacy ever since, and BBA President Carol Starkey reminded those in attendance of its key findings—and of the “necessity for all of us to come together to help low-income families and individuals.”  Civil legal aid, she said, “helps keep the basic, fundamental promise of justice for all of us—not just a few of us.”  And she warned that advocates may soon have to fight off proposals at the federal level to slash funding for legal aid, including for the Legal Services Corporation, the nation’s leading provider of money for legal aid. “At the Boston Bar Association, we’re ready to fight,” President Starkey pledged.

SJC Chief Justice Ralph Gants always addresses the audience at Walk to the Hill, usually bringing the majority of the high court with him, and this year was no exception.  To the question of why legal aid deserves to continue receiving significant increases in funding, he suggested responding, “We expect the coming year to present unprecedented challenges to the rule of law and to the health and well-being of the poor and the vulnerable.”

Chief Justice Gants delights every year in finding a new data point to illustrate just how small the state’s appropriation for civil legal aid is, in the context of a $40 billion budget.  Perhaps spring training is already on his mind, because this year’s example came by way of the hometown first-baseman’s contract: “That fight will cost just $23 million—which is roughly what the Red Sox are paying Hanley Ramirez this year.”

The President of the Massachusetts Bar Association, Jeff Catalano, said, “This is not just a walk for funding; this is a walk for justice.  Because a society where poor people can’t get access to legal representation to assert their rights is truly not a just society.”

MBA President Jeff Catalano:
“This is not just a walk for funding; this is a walk for justice.”

Finally, the crowd heard from a legal-services client, Bill O., who told the compelling story of how his attorney at Greater Boston Legal Services (GBLS) restored his MassHealth coverage, which was taken away at a time when he was battling a life-threatening illness.  “It was like a miracle,” Bill recalled, “because I could not afford those incredibly-expensive drugs on my own.  And I was so, so relieved, it was physical.”  There was no way, he said, that he could’ve achieved the same result himself—no way he could’ve sifted through all the paperwork, in spite of a career spent in health-care.  Bill told the hushed crowd, “I wouldn’t be standing here today, I don’t think, telling this story, if it weren’t for the help of Nancy and GBLS.”

After that moving and energizing kick-off ceremony in the Great Hall, the 700 lawyers-turned-activists took their marching orders from Jacquelynne Bowman, executive director of GBLS, and filtered out to offices all over the State House, to spread the word to their respective legislators and make the ask: a requested $5 million increase in MLAC funding, to $23 million.  Among the many, the two bar presidents, Carol Starkey and Jeff Catalano, happen to be represented by the same State Senator, Michael Rush, who raced back from a Senate session to sit down with them as they asked for his help in securing that $23 million.

That’s still not enough, unfortunately, to entirely close the gap identified by the BBA Task Force, with an estimated 64% of qualified applicants for legal assistance turned away by providers solely due to lack of resources.  But it would be a big step.  And for those thousands of additional clients who could be represented if that money comes through, it may mean being able to stay in their homes, escape from an abuser, or gain the federal benefits to which they’re rightfully entitled.  That’s why we come back each year—to fight for help for those who need it the most.

And make no mistake: it will be a fight once again.  Walk to the Hill typically arrives toward the start of the budget cycle, and this time it was one day after Governor Charlie Baker released his budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2018 (FY18), which begins on July 1.  The Governor’s plan, delivered to the Legislature as House Bill 1 (or “H. 1,” as it’s affectionately called), would set the MLAC appropriation at $18.18 million, or 1% above last year’s level—likely not enough even to maintain the same level of legal services as this year.

But the ball is now in the Legislature’s court.  The House Ways & Means Committee is already working on the numbers for their budget, which will be released in April.  (For more on the budget process in general, and how it affects our lobbying for MLAC, check out our recent podcast, with the unfortunate—but nevertheless accurate—title “Geeking Out on the State Budget.”)  You will certainly be hearing more from us in the months to come about MLAC and our other budget priorities…

—Michael Avitzur
Government Relations Director
Boston Bar Association