For nearly two weeks, we have been preoccupied with the Aaron Hernandez situation and how it's become a real life version of a cop show with a football subplot. The details of the investigation, many reported first by FOX 25, are the lead story. Other news is relegated to a smaller portion of the time and attention that people devote to consumption of the day's events. Here are some things you may have overlooked.
Some Beacon Hill politicians may be happy that you are distracted by a true story that's becoming stranger than fiction. In case you missed it, there's a good chance you'll be paying more for gas thanks to a perpetual increase in the state's gas tax. On Wednesday, Beacon Hill lawmakers sent the governor a revenue bill that increases our gas tax by three cents to 24 cents per gallon. But wait, there's more. The bill ties future increases in the tax to the rate of inflation. Basically, that allows the tax to go up every year without lawmakers having to vote again. Here's some good news, the bill allows tolls to be torn down on the pike west of Route 128 in 2017. Here's more bad news. Governor Deval Patrick says he will not sign the bill unless the tax increase is higher to cover the $135 million in lost tolls.
Meanwhile, the same lawmakers have not finished work on next year's budget which goes into effect on Monday, July 1st. Don't worry; they passed a $4 billion supplemental budget to tie things over for the month of July. That's more than enough for one month because the total budget is supposed to come in at $34 billion.
Next, a divided Supreme Court made a historic ruling that struck down the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act or DOMA. The court said DOMA was unconstitutional and effectively gutted it by ruling against a provision that denied federal benefits to legally married gay couples. It will take some time to determine how far the decision will reach, but for now it's huge.
Also, the president made a major address regarding global warming. The same day a FOX 25 Feedback poll showed that only 3.3% of people were concerned about global warming, but 60.6% said the economy should be the President's top priority.
That same Fox 25 Feedback poll reported only 16.7% of people think immigration reform is the most important issue. Thursday, the US Senate approved a sweeping immigration reform bill with support from both democrats and republicans. It included amnesty and a promise to strengthen the border. It moves to the republican controlled house now where it is expected to be stopped at the border.
Any one of these stories would dominate in a typical week. Unfortunately, we have not had a typical week in a long time.