Court: Mass. can deny jailed felons right to vote
A federal court has ruled that Massachusetts has the right to prevent incarcerated felons from voting.
The ruling stems from a lawsuit filed after Massachusetts voters in 2000 approved a measure to disqualify currently jailed felons from voting in certain elections. Lawmakers later extended that to all elections.
In 2001, several jailed felons challenged the law, arguing it violated the federal Voting Rights Act because the percentage of imprisoned felons who are black or Hispanic is higher than the percentage in the state as a whole.
Last Friday, the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found the inmates made no claim of intentional discrimination. The court also ruled that Congress, in passing the Voting Rights Act, never intended to prohibit states from barring incarcerated felons from voting.
Bottoms up, taxes up: Mass. raises fee on alcohol
Add 6.25 percent to the cost of that cold one.
A new alcohol tax went into effect last Saturday on all beer, wine and alcohol purchases in Massachusetts, lifting a previous tax exemption on booze.
Gov. Deval Patrick has said lifting the exemption was needed to help balance the budget. The alcohol tax could raise another $80 million in tax revenues in the new fiscal year.
Store owners say the new tax will hurt sales.
The new alcohol tax also reflects an increase in the state sales tax, which is up from 5 percent to 6.25 percent.
A ballot initiative that would add alcohol back to the state sales tax exemption list may be considered next year.
Mass. sheriff cracks down on off-color e-mails
BOURNE — The Barnstable County Sheriff is pledging to crack down on off-color e-mails sent on department computers that often include pornographic images or videos following a newspaper investigation.
The Cape Cod Times found that more than two dozen office employees, including high-ranking administrators, have used taxpayer-funded e-mail accounts and computers to send and receive pornographic material.
The e-mails came from a half-dozen accounts covering a handful of specific dates in September and November 2008 and late June through July 2009.
Sheriff James Cummings says there is “no place” for the offensive e-mails in his department and has reminded his nearly 350 employees that they will not be tolerated. He says no disciplinary action has been taken yet.
SPRINGFIELD — The Basketball Hall of Fame has opened a Michael Jordan exhibit before his enshrinement next month.
The display features items from Jordan’s NBA career and from his time at North Carolina and with the 1992 Olympic Dream Team. There is also a batting glove from Jordan’s brief foray into baseball.
The exhibit is made possible in part by a $250,000 donation from Nike and features several pairs of the superstar’s Air Jordan shoes.
Jordan led the Chicago Bulls to six NBA titles and now runs basketball operations for the Charlotte Bobcats. He will enter the Hall of Fame on Sept. 11 with former NBA stars David Robinson and John Stockton and coaches Jerry Sloan and C. Vivian Stringer.