Bill Asks for Population Commission
Divinity Student Co-Authors Proposal
State Rep. Robert E. Wetmore (D. Worcester) will introduce a bill in the State Legislature today, co-authored by David N. Carter, a Divinity School student which would establish a state population commission.
The proposal asks the state legislature to set up a commission to study population growth and distribution, Carter, a research fellow in the Medical and Divinity Schools, said yesterday.
Wetmore will file the bill with the Clerk of the State House of Representatives for consideration in next year's legislative session, he said.
If the bill becomes law, the commission would study seven proposals, including one to establish "a coordinated population program." The group would also consider the creation of a demographic information center, to help cities plan policies from demographic statistics.
The bill also suggests that the proposed commission form a population policy "based on the state's economic and natural resources and safeguarding the rights and needs of traditionally disenfranchised groups in the commonwealth.
Two privately funded population study groups, the Population Reference Bureau and Population Council, praised the bill last week in a conference on population growth and distribution held in Amherst.
Carter co-authored a similar bill last year which died in the State Senate after gaining the approval of the House, Carter blamed election-year feats of any bills possibly connected with abortion for the failure of the proposal.
Carter predicted that the bill would succeed this year. He cited the more favorable make-up of the State Senate and the absence of election-year conservatism as two reasons the bill should pass.
Minor semantic changes have been made to make the bill more saleable, Carter said.
Carter criticized the President's Commission on Population Growth and the American Future, Future, whose reports last May advocated the legalization of abortion. "We don't care about abortion," he said. "Any good demographer will tell you it has little to do with population growth."
The bill submitted today proposes that the commission consist of three state senators, seven representatives, and five appointees of the governor. If the proposal in accepted, Wetmore will chair the commission and Carter will need its staff on a voluntary buses, Carter said yesterday.
He said that a commission has the power to submit legislation at any time, even after the normal December deadline.
The group will probably submit bills in each of the proposed areas, Carter added.
Diana C. Walsh, executive secretary to the director of the Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts, co-authored the bill with Carter.