At the State House, a Budget and a Burial Ground

By Sarah Birnbaum

Feb. 21, 2012

BOSTON — This week in Massachusetts politics, the Legislature's state administration holds a public hearing on a bill that could pave the way for 800 jobs on the South Shore, and lawmakers discuss part of Gov. Deval Patrick's budget proposal for the fiscal year that begins in July.
On Tuesday, lawmakers consider a bill on a very controversial issue. The medical manufacturer Meditech wants to build a new office complex near the Freetown-Fall River border that could bring as many as 800 new jobs to the region. But the land they want to build on used to be a Native American burial ground, and the Massachusetts Historical Commission says there still could be unmarked graves there. It won’t let the company build until it does more excavation. The company refused and is threatening to pull on the project. Now South Shore lawmakers are trying to rescue it. They've filed a bill that would take control of the project away from the historical commission and would let the company hire an independent archeologist instead.
On Feb. 22, the House and Senate Ways and Means committees take testimony on health and human services spending under Patrick's budget proposal for fiscal year 2013. Patrick's plan calls for a number of new cuts to state programs; e.g., slashing $1.5 million from a program that provides free meals to seniors. AARP advocates say the cuts could mean about 250,000 fewer meals available for seniors next year.

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