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Patrick may create task force to address police bias report

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STATE CAPITOL BRIEFS

STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE

PATRICK MAY CREATE TASK FORCE TO ADDRESS POLICE BIAS REPORT

In the wake of a report citing Boston police officers use of racially biased street encounters, Gov. Deval Patrick is looking to assemble a task force to address the issue of racial profiling in law enforcement. “Obviously its concerning,” Patrick said of the report from the ACLU. “I think it would be concerning to anybody who wants to assure that the work of the police is on the – of any police force, state or local, is about the merits of law enforcement and not the appearance of the people that they serve,” Patrick said, adding that he has been in contact with some citizens about setting up a task force to examine solutions to the problem before the end of his term. Patrick spoke with reporters after addressing a groundbreaking ceremony for the new Boston public market. The governor said he hadn’t read the report yet, but has seen media reports on its contents. “There’s some sobering information in it and it bears some further understanding, and not just study, but action and one of the things I’ve been asked to think about and I know others have as well is whether there is a group we can assemble on a statewide basis to consider what the best practices are so we can assure that the service that law enforcement give is for everybody,” Patrick said. The question on the report was first posed by a reporter from the Boston Herald, the daily tabloid that recently printed a cartoon widely seen as containing racial stereotypes. “Is the Herald asking me a question about race?” Patrick said, adding “The Herald about race? I don’t think you want to do that.” Patrick later apologized to the reporter and said “I have very strong feelings about that cartoon. I’m sorry. It’s not personal to you.” – M. Deehan/SHNS

FORECAST: MODERATE GROWTH COLORED BY GEOPOLITICAL CONCERNS

The next Massachusetts governor can expect to take office amid a period of moderate economic growth in the Bay State and nationally. MassBenchmarks, a UMass Donahue Institute economic project that involves area economists, reported the moderate growth forecast for the roughly next six months on Thursday morning. Economists who meet regularly to reassess growth forecasts identified steady employment growth and solid consumer spending, as reflected by sales tax revenues, as positive indicators, counterbalanced by continued concerns over long-term unemployment, higher jobless rates in cities outside the Greater Boston area, and export activity in the face of international political and economic upheaval. “The Middle East and Eastern Europe continue to be highly volatile and constitute major sources of geopolitical and economic risk. The Eurozone economy has yet to fully recover and its near-term prospects are not good. And the Chinese economy is growing more slowly than in recent history. All of these developments are exerting downward pressure on global growth and represent serious risks to the global, national, and Massachusetts economy. And the apparent decoupling of U.S. and world growth patterns also has significant implications for how we assess the state’s economic performance,” economists wrote, according to excerpts released by the economic project. – M. Norton/SHNS

HOUSE APPROVES $80 MIL SPENDING BILL

Massachusetts House Republicans on Thursday consented to the passage of an $80 million spending bill written by Democrats and intended to close the books on fiscal year 2014, sending funds to sheriffs and other offices while also forward-funding a federal home heating program. The bill (H 4504) corrects a “drafting error” regarding tax credits in the jobs bill that became law this summer, according to a House Ways and Means staff member, and also ships $31 million to the Cambridge Public Health Commission once the entity transfers $15.5 million into the Medical Assistance Trust Fund. Before passing the bill on a voice vote during a lightly attended informal session Thursday, House members tacked on additional spending earmarks, including $500,000 to study bridge replacements in Norfolk, $400,000 for infrastructure improvements in Hatfield, and $250,000 to improve a library roof. The bill had a roughly $77.8 million bottom line when it cleared the House Committee on Ways and Means Thursday morning. The Senate adjourned before the House completed its work on the legislation. Both branches meet next on Tuesday at 11 a.m. – A. Metzger/SHNS

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