Tuesday, July 18, 2017

In the News: UMass tuition rises; legislative deal on marijuana reached; used needles everywhere

From the Milford Daily News, articles of interest for Franklin:
"The University of Massachusetts Board of Trustees voted to increase tuition and fees by an average of 3 percent for in-state undergraduates on Monday -- a move that will cost the average Massachusetts student $416 more than the previous academic year. 
Across the UMass system, the average in-state undergraduate will pay an average $14,253 in tuition and fees this year. It is the third year in a row the university has increased tuition for students. Last July, the trustees voted to increase tuition and fees by 5.8 percent -- a hike that cost the average in-state undergraduate student $756. The trustees broke a two-year tuition freeze in 2015 when they voted to increase tuition by 5 percent. 
The five-campus UMass system had more than 74,000 students enrolled during the 2016-17 academic year. Some 17,700 students earned UMass degrees in 2017 -- the largest graduating class in UMass history. The board approved the increases during a meeting in Worcester."

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"State House and Senate negotiators reached an agreement Monday on the state’s voter-approved marijuana law that would allow retail pot sales to be taxed at a maximum 20 percent rate. 
Highlights of the deal were released by a six-member conference committee that spent several weeks trying to resolve differences between the two chambers.The compromise language mostly splits the difference between a House proposal to raise the total tax on marijuana to a mandatory 28 percent and the Senate version of the bill, which called for keeping the tax at a maximum of 12 percent. 
Under the agreement, consumers would pay a 10.75 percent excise tax in addition to the state’s regular 6.25 percent sales tax. Cities and towns would also have the option of adding a 3 percent local tax."

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"They hide in weeds along hiking trails and in playground grass. They wash into rivers and float downstream to land on beaches. They pepper baseball dugouts, sidewalks and streets. Syringes left by drug users amid the heroin crisis are turning up everywhere. 
In Portland, Maine, officials have collected more than 700 needles so far this year, putting them on track to handily exceed the nearly 900 gathered in all of 2016. In March alone, San Francisco collected more than 13,000 syringes, compared with only about 2,900 the same month in 2016. 
People, often children, risk getting stuck by discarded needles, raising the prospect they could contract blood-borne diseases such as hepatitis or HIV or be exposed to remnants of heroin or other drugs. 
It’s unclear whether anyone has gotten sick, but the reports of children finding the needles can be sickening in their own right. One 6-year-old girl in California mistook a discarded syringe for a thermometer and put it in her mouth; she was unharmed."

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