Kennedy Successor to be Debated in September

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Posted: Aug 31, 2009 4:24 PM
Massachusetts lawmakers are going ahead with plans to debate whether the state will retain its current special election law in order to fill a vacant US Senate seat, or if they will overturn the law to favor a governor appointment.  In early September, state lawmakers will be pressed to decide as federal lawmakers gear up for fierce debates on key legislative matters, including Obama's health care overhaul. 

From AFP:
"Within a week after Labor Day there will be a hearing... so in early September," Meghan Bartley, legislative aide of the state's committee on election, told AFP.

"They have to figure out if they will change the current law.  Every member of (Massachusetts) House and Senate will attend the hearing."
As you know, Kennedy's death leaves U.S. Senate Democrats just short of the 60 votes needed to break a possible filibuster as they return from the August recess next week.  With proposals like the president's health care overhaul and cap-and-trade climate legislation pending, the Senate Democrats are likely to need all the votes they can get. 

Current state law was just enacted in 2004 to mandate a special election 145-160 days after a vacancy occurs.  At the time, this measure--championed by Kennedy himself--prevented then-Governor Mitt Romeny, a Republican, from appointing a replacement for Democrat Senator John Kerry if he had successfully won the presidency.