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|7/25/07 – NEWS BULLETIN:
NEW BILL EMERGES FROM SECRECY – CREATES NEW TIDELANDS CZAR WITH POWER TO GIVE AWAY PUBLIC RIGHTS
At 12:30pm today the text of a new tidelands bill was released by Speaker of the House Sal DiMasi. The new bill is said to be the result of legislators working closely with persons in the Patrick Administration. We have not had time to fully analyze this bill, but the following points seem to emerge from our first glance at it:
· The bill is substantially longer than the original H3757. It has grown from 1 page to about 4 1/2 pages.
· The bill contains new provisions that allow a single governor-appointed tidelands czar to decide what, if anything, developers needed to do to satisfy the “public benefit” requirement when they build on tidelands. This administrator would also be empowered to “relinquish” public tidelands to developers.
· The new tidelands czar would be within the Office of Administration and Finance – a financial agency, not an environmental agency. The bill explicitly states that “The department of environmental protection shall accept the trustee’s determination of public benefit . . .” This means that the DEP would be powerless before this official.
· The bill contains several statements to the effect that the public benefit that must be given in exchange for building on tidelands must consider “practical impact” and not be “unduly burdomsome on the applicant or his development”. In other words, if adequate public compensation cuts into developer profits, the public must take a loss.
· The bill requires the tidelands czar to have experience with million dollar real estate projects – but requires absolutely no environmental expertise or experience.
· The bill includes deceptive language about “mitigations” – while imposing absolutely no standards on what these must be. A developer could do almost anything and say that he had complied with this vague requirement.
· The text was revealed only 24 hours before it will come to a vote. Incredibly, the legislative leadership intends to get this bill approved by committee IN ONE DAY WITHOUT PUBLIC HEARINGS. The public’s rights to tidelands will be extinguished before the text of the bill can arrive in the mail.
The clear intent of the legislative strategy is to extinguish public rights by enacting a bill before its provisions can be read by those who are affected. This says something about the merits of the legislation.
For the text of the bill, click here: New Tidelands Bill (H3757).
Please continue to write your legislators and the Governor and let them know that this attempt to take away your rights with secret legislation is unacceptable to you.
Further analysis of this bill will follow, but time is short, so please speak up now.
– John Andrews, President, MCHC