Cassie Follman ‘20
Last Thursday, Northampton council passed a series of resolutions dealing with a variety of issues.
The resolutions, although not legally-binding, express the council’s views. Yet, these resolutions can also lead to legislature that will enact the ideas of these resolutions. Added surveillance cameras downtown, medical aid in dying, nuclear weapons and school bus safety were all topics of discussion for the council.
Many in attendance expressed views against nuclear weapons and surveillance cameras.
The proposal of additional surveillance cameras in downtown Northampton drew controversy earlier this year, as the majority of citizens felt that it infringed on privacy rights and could potentially target the homeless or addicts in the area, which The Sophian previously reported.
The council unanimously passed a resolution in favor of medical aid in euthanasia, often referred to as “dying with dignity.” The bill titled, “End of Life Options Act” details the possibility to use medical aid to die in certain cases where the patient faces a terminal illness.
This concept has gained an increasing amount of attention in recent years. CNN reported on one of the most famous of these cases: A young woman, Brittany Maynard, decided to use medical assistance in dying following her diagnosis of a terminal brain tumor. In her article titled, “My right to die with dignity,” Brittany wrote, “I do not want to die. But I am dying. And I want to die on my own terms.”
Currently, five states, including Washington D.C., have installed some kind of legislation that allows for this type of treatment. The law has faced intense debate, with both opposing and favorable remarks for medical assistance in dying.
Concerning nuclear weapons and other military spending, the council discussed the Trump Administration’s proposal to move $54 billion from social services, education and environmental to the military.
The shift in appropriations has received substantial criticism due to the severe impact it could have on providing care for underprivileged families and the lack of concern for the environment.
The Daily Hampshire Gazette reported that, “An amendment was also made to the resolution that [the resolution] be sent to the President.” While the resolution will not necessarily be read or acknowledged by the President, it serves to reiterate the council’s strong objections to the increased military spending.
The council also had a discussion about school bus safety which resulted in a resolution being passed that ruled in favor of legislation that would allow school buses to document vehicles that illegally pass in front of them. The caught drivers may be subject to a ticket.
Other states have also debated the issue, with some enacting legislation to install cameras on all school buses.
In an article on the issue of school bus safety, Governing.com wrote about the death of a young student who was struck and killed after a car illegally passed in front of a school bus. The article reported that, “Between 2001 and 2013, nearly a dozen children between the ages of 6 and 17 died in school bus-related crashes involving another driver charged with illegally passing the bus, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.”
Although none of these resolutions hold legal powers, they reflect the motives of the council and possible future changes to Northampton. These are both national and global issues that not only impact Northampton residents, but the Smith community as well.
A text of all resolutions passed can be found on Northampton’s government website.