McGee Orders Action On Nuclear Freeze Bill
BOSTON--Evidently bowing to pressure. House Speaker Thomas W. McGee set the stage yesterday for floor action on a bill permitting a statewide referendum Nov 2 on a nuclear weapons freeze.
McGee ordered a formal House session for 1 p.m. today, and an aide. Timothy Taylor, said the bill will come up for action then.
McGee had said Monday the bill was stalled because the House hadn't met formally for nearly two months, but he would consider acting this week.
"I assume this means that in some fashion, it will come up," said Rep. John A. Businger. D-Brookline, a supporter of the bill, who speculated that the measure would pass the Legislature in time to make the November ballot.
With a 5 p.m. Thursday deadline for getting the question on the ballot. McGee received a letter urging action, signed by 12 of the 14 members in Massachusetts' congressional delegation. Also on Monday, about 200 demonstrators came to the Statehouse to protest the delay.
The bill, proposing a referendum on a verifiable nuclear weapons freeze with the Soviet Union, originally passed the Senate early this summer but was amended in the House.
The measure can't pass the Legislature until both chambers agree on a single version. Senate President William M. Bulger appointed three senators to a conference committee to negotiate a final bill with the House, but the House conferees were never named by McGee.
Businger says he expects the House will vote to drop its amendments today, which means both chambers would be in agreement and there would be no need for negotiation.
However, Taylor declined to speculate, saying. "One never guesses" on a course of action.
Meanwhile, the House and Senate also are scheduled to resume their constitutional convention this afternoon, with one controversial issue still on the agenda--a proposed constitutional amendment that would ban abortions.
The amendment would extend constitutional protections "to the unborn from the moment of conception."