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Mass. Gov. to sign sweeping anti-bullying bill

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Mass. Gov. to sign sweeping anti-bullying bill

Gov. Deval Patrick is poised to sign a bill cracking down on school bullies and requiring teachers to report bullying incidents to principals.

The bill was prompted by the recent suicides of two students said to be the victims of intense harassment.

Sirdeaner Walker is planning to be on hand for the bill signing. Walker is the mother of 11-year-old Carl Walker-Hoover who hanged himself in his family’s Springfield home last year. Walker said her son had been tormented by classmates.

In January, 15-year-old Phoebe Prince killed herself after allegedly being bullied at South Hadley High School. A group of her classmates have pleaded not guilty in connection with her death.

The bill prohibits bullying on school property and outlaws cyber-bullying through e-mail or social media networks.

Mass. House approves $5 a day fee for prisoners

Massachusetts House lawmakers have approved a proposal to charge prison inmates $5 a day.

The new fee was quickly pushed through on a 106-51 vote by House lawmakers last week during their ongoing budget debate.

The House decided to take up the issue again on Friday. After a lengthy debate, lawmakers again voted in favor of the fee by a 93-62 margin.

Supporters of the proposal say it is one way to help ease Massachusetts’ financial burden at a time when the state is being forced to make deep budget cuts to services.

Opponents of the plan say it shortsighted.

They say it will make it harder for prisoners to get a foothold in society when they are released and could drive them back to a life of crime. 

Holder to deliver Boston U commencement address

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder is scheduled to deliver the commencement address at Boston University’s graduation ceremonies.

Holder will speak first at BU School of Law’s convocation at on May 16, followed by the commencement when he will receive an honorary Doctor of Laws degree. The university is scheduled to hand out more than 5,000 degrees.

BU President Robert Brown also announced Friday that Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Edward Albee; Presidential Medal of Freedom winner and civil rights defender William Coleman Jr.; and Nobel Prize-winning chemist Osamu Shimomura are among those scheduled to earn honorary degrees.

Challenge to federal marriage law heads to court

A lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of a federal law that defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman is slated for its first court hearing.

Gay couples say the Defense of Marriage Act denies them access to federal benefits given to other married couples.

A federal judge in Boston will hear arguments Thursday on the government’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit and the same-sex couples’ request to rule in their favor without a trial.

Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders sued on behalf of seven same-sex couples and three widowers who were married after Massachusetts became the first state to legalize gay marriage in 2004.

The Justice Department makes it clear in court documents that the Obama administration thinks the law should be repealed, but the department says it’s obligated to defend federal laws.