HOUSE GOP STILL WAITING FOR HEALEY RESPONSE ON GUNS

HOUSE GOP STILL WAITING FOR HEALEY RESPONSE ON GUNS
By Colin A. Young
STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE

STATE HOUSE, BOSTON, APRIL 25, 2017….House Republicans are still waiting for Attorney General Maura Healey’s response to letters they and other lawmakers sent last summer about her heightened enforcement of the state’s assault weapons ban, and on Monday night tried to hold up some of the attorney general’s funding until they receive a reply.

When a package of budget amendments dealing with constitutional officers came up for a vote Monday night, House Minority Leader Brad Jones offered a further amendment that would have withheld about $800,000 from Healey’s office “until an appropriate response is provided.”

Healey announced last July that she would double down on enforcement of the state’s 1998 assault weapons ban, specifically focusing on what she called “copycats” of firearms banned under that law. In response, a bipartisan group of 58 lawmakers sent her a letter opposing “in the strongest possible terms” her decision and the way she announced it.

A second letter circulated by former Rep. John Fernandes, a Democrat who has since left the House, gained signatures from 82 legislators before it was sent to the attorney general. Healey has not yet responded to either letter, according to Jones’ office.

Healey’s office declined to comment Tuesday, other than to say that the attorney general’s office has communicated with legislators about the enforcement and responded to public records requests related to it.

Jones’ further amendment was rejected 35-117, with no Democrats crossing lines to join the Republicans in holding back some of Healey’s funding. It would have withheld any funding for Healey above the appropriation for the current fiscal year, or roughly $800,000.

In explaining the consolidated amendment to the House, Rep. Peter Kocot highlighted the “significant increases in funding for our constitutional officers,” including “a sizable increase in the line items for our AG.”

The underlying amendment was approved 125-28.

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