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Evacuation Day Repeal In Legislative 'Purgatory'

St. Patrick's Day is also Evacuation Day, one of two holidays in Massachusetts — along with June's Bunker Hill Day — observed in only Suffolk County.

As many state and local government workers get the day off, or are given a floating vacation day to use at another time, efforts to repeal the two holidays are active at the State House. But such efforts are meeting resistance.

A Republican-sponsored measure to eliminate the holidays was sent to a study committee — a sort-of legislative "purgatory" where bills are sent to die. State Sen. Michael Knapik, R-Westfield, is one of the bill's sponsors. He said doing away with the holidays would save the state $5 million.

"With all the cuts that government is making, and raising a billion dollars in taxes last year, I think holding on to this one is just a fool's errand if you ask me," Knapik said.

Last year, a similar piece of legislation failed when the state's House of Representatives produced a 78-78 tie vote. The vote was similarly close in the Senate. Sen. Knapik is currently looking at other ways to get the question before the full Legislature.

Evacuation Day commemorates March 17, 1776, when British troops retreated from the Continental Army, which was massing in South Boston.

On March 12, 1941, Massachusetts Gov. Leverett Saltonstall signed a bill to make March 17 a holiday in Suffolk County. The law does not mention Evacuation Day by name, only specifying that the date will be a legal holiday.

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This program aired on March 17, 2010. The audio for this program is not available.

Steve Brown Twitter Reporter/Anchor
Steve Brown is a veteran broadcast journalist who serves as WBUR's State House reporter.

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