In state Senate, split vote on Suffolk County holidays

Dorchester’s state Senate delegation split last week in a vote on whether to eliminate Evacuation and Bunker Hill Days, holidays that are recognized only in Suffolk County. Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz (D-Jamaica Plain) voted to remove the two days as holidays, while Sen. Jack Hart (D-South Boston) led the charge to keep them.

The close vote, which failed to eliminate the two special holidays, came as part of a Republican-sponsored amendment to the Senate’s version of the fiscal 2012 budget.

Bunker Hill Day commemorates the battle of Bunker Hill in June; Evacuation Day celebrates the British forces evacuating Boston after they had laid siege to the city during the American Revolution. Evacuation Day follows St. Patrick’s Day. But the two holidays have also gained notoriety as “hack holidays,” drawing criticism from some because they are limited to state government employees within Suffolk County.

“Special days of rest, special days of recovery after St. Patrick’s Day. That’s really what it is,” said Sen. Michael Knapik, a Westfield Republican. Chang-Diaz’s office, in a press release on her budget votes, noted that her vote for the holidays’ elimination was part of her “[c]ontinuing her commitment to reform state government and maximize every taxpayer dollar.”

Hart accused Republicans of “catering to some of these radio talk show hosts.” “We need to respect our history, in that if we eliminate these holidays today, what’s next?” said Hart, who hosts the annual St. Patrick’s Day breakfast, which features politicians gently – and sometimes not so gently – roasting each other.

“Why don’t we get rid of Thanksgiving? Why don’t we think of getting rid of Christmas?” The amendment was one of several offered up by the five-member Republican minority and rejected by Senate Democrats. 



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