MASSACHUSETTS GUN LAWS
Patrick sides with chiefs on gun bill provision
BOSTON (AP) - Gov. Deval Patrick says he agrees with police chiefs and gun safety activists who support giving the chiefs discretion over issuing firearms identification cards needed to buy rifles or shotguns.
But Patrick did not say whether he would sign a pending gun bill if it reached his desk without the provision, which was approved in the House but removed from the Senate version.
Boston Police Commissioner William Evans and Evans' predecessor, Ed Davis, were among those who came to the Statehouse on Tuesday to urge lawmakers to include discretion for chiefs in granting FID cards for rifles and shotguns.
Patrick on Wednesday said he sided with the chiefs and hoped the final negotiated version of the bill, now before a six-member conference committee, would be closer to the version passed by the House.
ABORTION BUFFER ZONE
Massachusetts House approves abortion clinic bill
BOSTON (AP) - The Massachusetts House has approved a bill designed to tighten security around abortion clinics.
The bill would let police disperse groups substantially impeding access to abortion clinics. After a dispersal order is issued in writing, those individuals would have to stay at least 25 feet from the clinic's entrances for up to eight hours.
The 25-foot boundary would have to be marked and the regulations posted.
The House approved the bill Wednesday on a 116-35 vote. The Senate approved it last week.
The bill is a response to a Supreme Court ruling striking down a 2007 Massachusetts law that established protest-free 35-foot "buffer zones" around abortion clinic entrances.
Abortion opponents said they would head back to court if the bill is approved.
It requires a final vote in each chamber before heading to Gov. Deval Patrick.
Patrick: Plan to shelter children misunderstood
BOSTON (AP) - Gov. Deval Patrick says there remains considerable misunderstanding about the state's offer to shelter unaccompanied children from Central America crossing the nation's southern border.
Patrick's comments to reporters on Wednesday came after many town officials and residents in Bourne objected to children being housed at the Camp Edwards military base on Cape Cod. The governor has also offered Westover Air Reserve Base in Chicopee as a possible secure facility.
Patrick said if the state were to receive a request for housing from the federal government, the facility would operate for only about four months and the average stay for a child would be 30-45 days while they are processed under U.S. law.
Patrick also said they would not attend schools nor be brought into neighborhoods near the bases.
CAMPAIGN FINANCE BILL
Massachusetts Senate approves PAC disclosure bill
BOSTON (AP) - The Massachusetts Senate has approved a bill designed to tighten reporting requirements for independent political expenditures, including those made by political action committees known as super PACs.
Under the bill, corporations, labor unions and political committees would be required to file a report within seven days of making an independent expenditure - or within 24 hours if the expenditure is made within 10 days of an election.
Independent expenditures can include television or radio ads made on behalf of a candidate but without consulting with that candidate's political committee.
The bill also doubles the amount an individual could donate to a candidate in a calendar year from $500 to $1,000. The $500 limit was put in place 20 years ago.
The House and Senate will now try to hammer out a single, compromise bill.
Man linked to gun said 'bomber' was best friend
BOSTON (AP) - A man linked to a gun used to kill a university police officer after the Boston Marathon bombing allegedly told police he smoked marijuana every day because, in his words, "my best friend was the bomber."
Stephen Silva was arrested Monday on charges of heroin trafficking and possession of a handgun with an obliterated serial number.
Two people with knowledge of the investigation said the same gun was used to kill MIT police Officer Sean Collier during a manhunt for the bombing suspects. They spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the investigation.
The 21-year-old Silva was close friends with bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev (joh-HAHR' tsahr-NEYE'-ehv).
Silva was arrested in November on marijuana charges. According to court documents, when transit police found marijuana in Silva's pocket, he allegedly said, "I smoke a lot of weed every day because my best friend was the bomber."
COLD CASE ARREST
Cops: Ohio man from NY killed wife in 1995
ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - Authorities say the case of two murder victims who went unidentified for 19 years has been cracked with the arrest of a 70-year-old Ohio man accused of killing his wife.
Robert Honsch of Dalton was charged with murder Tuesday night. Authorities said he shot his 53-year-old wife Marcia in the head. Her body was found by a hiker in October 1995 near an entrance to Tolland State Forest in western Massachusetts.
A week earlier, the body of a young female, also shot in the head, had been found in a parking area behind a strip mall in New Britain, Connecticut.
New Britain police said Wednesday they and Massachusetts State Police have separate arrest warrants charging Honsch with murder.
It could not immediately be determined if Honsch has a lawyer.
POLICE CRUISER CRASH
Police cruiser, car collide north of Boston
BURLINGTON, Mass. (AP) - Authorities say two people have been injured, including a police officer, after a crash involving a police cruiser north of Boston.
Burlington police say Officer Robert Aloisi was responding to a report of a commercial burglar alarm Wednesday afternoon when his cruiser collided with another car at an intersection.
Aloisi and the driver of the other car were taken to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.
Police say the officer's lights and sirens were activated at the time of the crash.
They continue to investigate.
They say the burglar alarm was handled by other officers. It had been accidentally set off by contractors working in the building.
Lawmakers approve $1B convention center upgrade
BOSTON (AP) - A proposed $1 billion expansion of the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center has been given final approval by the state Legislature.
The bill was sent on Wednesday to the desk of Gov. Deval Patrick, who said he supports expanding the South Boston facility while adding his administration was still reviewing the measure.
The bill would authorize an additional 1.3 million square feet in operating space. The state would borrow to finance the project with bonds to be repaid through proceeds from the state's tax on hotel rooms.
Supporters say the expansion will allow the center to compete for more large-scale international conventions.
The Boston-based Pioneer Institute has called on Patrick to veto the bill, citing what it called "overly optimistic" revenue estimates and an increased debt burden on the state.
New Massachusetts law would bar shark finning
BOSTON (AP) - The practice of shark finning would be outlawed in Massachusetts under a bill set to receive Gov. Deval Patrick's signature.
Advocates for the ban say shark fins are often removed for use in soup while the rest of the shark is thrown back in the sea, still alive. They call the practice inhumane.
The impetus for the legislation came from a 9-year-old Lowell boy. Sean Lesniak, who took a keen interest in the subject of shark finning, passed out stuffed sharks to lawmakers during a Statehouse visit in May.
Patrick is scheduled to sign the bill on Thursday at the New England Aquarium. The measure would ban the possession, sale or distribution of shark fins. Violators could face up to 60 days in jail or fines of up to $1,000 per fin.
Boston enlists goats to combat poison ivy
BOSTON (AP) - Boston is enlisting goats to combat poison ivy and other invasive plants in a city park.
On Wednesday, four goats began their eight-week stay at an "urban wild" along the Neponset River in the city's Hyde Park neighborhood.
The goats are expected to feed on poison ivy, buckthorn, Japanese knotweed, and other invasive plant species.
Mayor Martin Walsh's administration says the public can view the goats, which will be housed behind a low-voltage, solar-powered electric fence to keep coyotes out. But city officials warn visitors should not pet the animals since they will likely have poison ivy oils on their fur.
The city says "goatscaping" is currently used on Boston's Harbor Islands as well as in Chicago, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C.
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