Posted by 05 January 2021
This week Massachusetts officials announced a plan to phase-out the sale and use of carbon-emitting vehicles by 2050.
Under the outline put forth by Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs Kathleen Theoharides, the state would ban the sale of new carbon-emitting vehicles used by most drivers by 2035. The state also has a goal of ensuring that half of the trucks and buses sold in the state are zero-emission by 2030. However, the state's goal is to have all of those vehicles be emission-free by 2050.
According to the report, "For the Commonwealth to achieve Net Zero, fossil fuel use must be all but completely eliminated in on-road vehicles by 2050."
Critics of this ban note that consumers, not government, drive markets. They say that zero-emission cars are not attractive to consumers, and that innovation by the private sector will lead to more widespread purchasing of these cars. They also contend that this order will hurt consumers who want a wider choice in vehicles.
Other states have pursued similar goals. California's governor, for instance, issued an order earlier this year that aimed to transition the state to zero-emission vehicles. In both states, however, these plans are not solidified in law. Future administrations can alter or remove them.
Do you think states should prohibit people from buying vehicles that are not carbon-free?
Posted by 09 February 2020
Legislators in Massachusetts are considering legislation that could result in some high school students gaining the vote.
Under this proposal, municipalities could request that the state allow them to permit residents who are 16-years-old and 17-years-old to vote in these local elections. The change would not be made statewide; it would only be considered for those jurisdictions that request it. If approved, these young voters would not be allowed to cast ballots in elections for legislators, state officials, or federal officers.
Supporters of the bill say that it will help spur civic participation from younger people, getting them involved in the political process. They note that municipal government decisions affect teenagers, so it is fair for them to have a say in selecting their officials. However, this proposal has met resistance for people who say that teenagers have not fully developed enough to be making such important decisions.
A legislative committee held a hearing on the bill last month. Some cities in the state have passed ordinances asking for this change to state law. It is unclear, however, if this legislation has enough support in the legislature to pass. It is also unknown if Gov. Deval Patrick will support it.
Do you support allowing 16- and 17-year-olds to vote in city elections?
Posted by 29 November 2019
Flavored tobacco and flavored nicotine vaping products will soon be illegal to sell for most businesses in Massachusetts. Gov. Charlie Baker signed a bill into law this week that prohibits the sale of these items for all except a few locations.
Public health advocates praised the move, saying they would make these products less attractive to teenagers. There has been concern about vaping in recent months due to deaths caused by some vaping products, although these vaping deaths have been linked to black market vaping items, not legal products.
Opponents of this law argued that vaping products are an important way that smokers quit cigarettes. They say that by banning flavored products, it will lessen their attraction to smokers and lead more people to keep using tobacco. They also note that this will damage tobacco and vaping retailer in the state, since Massachusetts residents can go to other states to buy these products.
Under the legislation, licensed smoking bars and hookah lounges could still sell these products, but they must be used on-site. They bill also imposed a 75% tax on vaping products. The law goes into effect on June 1, 2020.
While some other states have implemented temporary bans on these items, Massachusetts is the first state in the nation to enact a ban on flavored nicotine products.
Do you support banning flavored tobacco and flavored vaping products?
Posted by 17 January 2019
Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey thinks she knows who is to blame for America’s opioid crisis: the pharmaceutical companies that make OxyContin and other opioids.
In a filing this week, Healey argued that the Sackler family, who owns OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma, pushed doctors to prescribe heavy doses of the drug even after it knew the dangers it posed. Her efforts are part of a wider legal strategy by state and local governments to sue opioid manufacturers. These suite are seeking money from these companies for these governments’ expenses in dealing with the opioid crisis.
According to the legal theory being put forward by Healey and other plaintiffs, opioid manufacturers made and marketed these drugs knowing that they were addictive and dangerous. They encouraged doctors to prescribe the drugs regardless of the harm it would cause to users. They say that the high rates of opioid addition and overdoses we are seeing today is a direct result of these companies’ actions.
This legal argument is being resisted by the companies and others. They note that opioids are tightly controlled by the federal government. They said that the companies complied with federal laws and regulations regarding opioids, and should not be blamed for people who misuse their products. They point out that the vast majority of overdoses are due to heroin or fentanyl, not prescription opioids.
A federal judge in Ohio is overseeing most of the legal cases against opioid manufacturers. It is unclear when he will make a final judgment in the case.
Do you think that opioid manufacturers are responsible for creating the opioid crisis? Should state and local governments sue these companies to recoup costs they incur due to heroin or fentanyl addiction and overdoses?
Posted by 02 January 2019
In 2040, there will be no more gasoline-powered cars or light trucks in Massachusetts. At least, that is what a state commission is recommending as a goal for state transportation policy.
Governor Charlie Baker assembled the group to examine the future of transportation in the Bay State. This panel recently released a host of recommendations to reshape the state’s transportation policy with an eye on reducing carbon emissions.
One of the proposals is to phase out the use of cars and light trucks that are powered by gasoline and instead phase in the use of electric vehicles. The state could do this by offering financial incentives for people to purchase these vehicles. They group also recommended more electric charging stations around the state as well as converting the state government fleet into electric vehicles.
Supporters of the increased use of electric vehicles argue that only by moving away from burning fossil fuels can the U.S. combat climate change. They say that with cars and trucks emitting large amounts of carbon, it only makes sense to use electric vehicles if the state is going to get serious about lowering carbon emissions. Skeptics of the plan say that it will be very expensive to make this type of change. They also note that the electricity that powers electric vehicles may be produced by burning coal, which also emits carbon.
The goal of the commission is to consider ways to reduce congestion as well as to lower the state’s greenhouse gas emissions. Among the group’s recommendations to deal with congestion is to impose congestion pricing for drivers into Boston, which would mean drivers entering at more popular times would pay higher tolls.
Governor Baker has not endorsed any of the report’s recommendations.
Do you think that states should set a goal to phase out the use of gasoline-powered cars? Should the government offer subsidies for people who purchase electric cars?