Beacon Hill Roll Call Volume 40-Report No. 44 November 2-6, 2015


By Bob Katzen 
   THE HOUSE AND SENATE: Beacon Hill Roll Call records local representatives’ and senators’ votes on roll calls from the week of November 2-6.
   The House last week teed up and approved several pro-veteran bills. The bills now move to the Senate. Supporters said that the state’s veterans are heroes who deserve to be treated, respected and helped. There were no opponents of the bills.
   The first four roll calls below are on veterans bills. On all four roll calls, a “Yes” vote is for the bill.

   House 152-0, approved a bill that would make it a crime to destroy, mutilate or deface an American flag, veteran’s commemorative flag holder or a commemorative flag holder representing service in both the police and fire department. Offenders would be sentenced to up to five years in prison. This law currently applies to tombs, monuments, gravestones, trees, shrubs and plants.

 Rep. Christine Barber Yes Rep. Denise Provost Yes Rep. Timothy Toomey Yes                                     

   House 151-0, approved a bill that would provide Purple Heart recipients free access to state parks, state forest recreation areas and state reservations. Currently free access is provided for disabled veterans and handicapped persons.

 Rep. Christine Barber Yes Rep. Denise Provost Yes Rep. Timothy Toomey Yes                                     

   House 151-0, approved a bill that would impose up to a $5,000 fine for a first offense of selling or attempting to sell a stolen veteran’s grave marker. A second and subsequent offenses would trigger up to a five-year prison sentence. Some of these markers are made of bronze and are a target of scrap metal thieves who steal and sell them.

 Rep. Christine Barber Yes Rep. Denise Provost Yes Rep. Timothy Toomey Yes                                     

   House 149-0, approved a bill that would make it a crime for a person to misrepresent himself or herself as a veteran. Violators would be subject to a one-year prison sentence and/or a $1,000 fine.

 Rep. Christine Barber Yes Rep. Denise Provost Yes Rep. Timothy Toomey Yes                                     

     Senate 37-0, approved and sent to the House a bill aimed at stopping and establishing penalties for “rehoming,” the unregulated practice of exchanging an adopted child. Rehoming is when an adoptive parent who feels he or she can no longer care for the child, arranges for another person to take custody of the child without the knowledge or approval of the government and adoption agencies. The parent often posts an ad on the Internet offering the child to whomever wants him or her.
   Supporters said this heinous practice must be stopped and pointed out how these exchanges often result in innocent children being taken by sexual predators and abusers. They argued that the state has an obligation to prevent this practice and ensure that adopted children are safe and that everyone works within the state’s adoption system.
   (A “Yes” vote is for the bill.)

 Sen. Patricia Jehlen Yes                                     

   TWO LEGISLATORS ARE ELECTED MAYOR – Four legislators ran for mayor in last week’s city elections. Two were elected and two were defeated. Sen. Bob Hedlund (R-Weymouth) was elected mayor of Weymouth and Steve DiNatale (D-Fitchburg) was chosen as the mayor of Fitchburg. Rep. Michael Finn (D-West Springfield) was defeated in West Springfield and Rep. Tom Stanley (D-Waltham) did not succeed in Waltham.
   GOVERNMENT PAYS FOR LAW SCHOOL LOANS (S 816) – The Judiciary Committee held a hearing on a bill providing that the state pay the student loans of anyone who graduates from a Massachusetts law school and practices “public interest law” including jobs at legal services corporations, public defender offices or district attorney offices
   JUSTICES OF THE PEACE – The Judiciary Committee also held a hearing on a bill that allows justices of the peace to advertise their marriage services on the Internet (S 831). Current law lists specific places they can advertise including newspapers, telephone books and “other publications of general circulation” but omits the Internet because the law was written years ago. Currently a justice can be fined up to $100 for advertising online.
    The agenda also included legislation raising from $25 to $100 the fee for a person applying for a license to be a justice of the peace (S 833).
   CAP SALARY OF CHARITY EXECUTIVES (S 875) — Another measure on the Judiciary Committee’s agenda was a proposal that would cap at $500,000 the compensation of any executives working for a public charity that takes in $1 million or more in annual gross revenue. The measure also prohibits any members of the board of directors from being paid. The proposal allows the charities to seek a waiver on the compensation question and grant it “only if deemed in the public interest of the commonwealth.”
   BABY SAFE HAVEN (H 114) — The House gave initial approval to a measure allowing an emergency responder at an agreed upon location following a 911 call to accept the drop off of a baby under the age of seven days. The state would then place the baby into the state’s foster care system and begin the process of terminating parental rights. The current Baby Safe Haven program allows the baby to be dropped at a police or fire station or hospital emergency room. 
   BULLYING OF TENANTS IN PUBLIC HOUSING (S 1984) — The Senate approved and sent to the House a bill creating a special commission to study the prevalence and impact of the bullying of tenants, with a focus on elderly and disabled tenants, in public and subsidized multi-family housing. The commission would hold public hearings across the state and by December 31, 2006 come up with its findings and recommendations.
  COMMISSION ON YOUNG PROFESSIONALS (S 2044) – The Senate approved and sent to the House a proposal creating a special commission on young professionals to examine how the commonwealth can better engage, involve and educate young professionals in decisions and policies that affect them. The commission would develop policies to retain and “attract intellectual capital that will make the commonwealth a desirable place for young professionals to live, work and play.”
   “I just had a ton of pre-existing damage and if I was 28 instead of 58 it would get better a lot faster.”
  Gov. Charlie Baker on why he is still on crutches since he aggravated a foot tendon injury in September.

   “Children who are often adopted from overseas and desperate for family connection and stability can potentially end up in the hands of sexual predators with little more than a handshake between the original adoptive parent and the new individual or family. If safety of our children is a priority for the state, then this loophole must be closed.”
   Erin Bradley, Executive Director of the Children’s League of Massachusetts, on the bill aimed at stopping rehoming which is when an adoptive parent who feels he or she can no longer care for the child, arranges for another person to take custody of the child without the knowledge or approval of the government and adoption agencies.

   “The results of [last week’s] municipal elections are clear. Women candidates not only win open seats, but also tough races against incumbents. But we also know that our fight continues to elect more women to office at both the local and state levels.”
    Ann Murphy of the Massachusetts Women’s Political Caucus Political Action Committee.

    “While this executive order will certainly level the playing field for Lesbian, Gay Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) business owners, it does nothing to protect transgender people, including business owners, when they are patronizing Massachusetts businesses. Currently, the commonwealth does not expressly protect transgender people from discrimination in public places such as supermarkets, parks, hospitals and restaurants.”
   Kasey Suffredini, Co-Chair of the Freedom Massachusetts Coalition on Gov. Charlie Baker’s executive order updating the state’s supplier diversity program to include businesses owned by LGBT people.

   “Our public colleges and universities educate much of our public and private sector leaders and are critical to the economic security of our nation. These institutions must be accessible to students of all backgrounds and reflect the diversity of experiences, perspectives and ideas necessary to compete in a global economy.”
   Attorney General Maura Healey upon filing a brief in the U.S. Supreme Court urging it to allow public colleges and universities the flexibility to design admissions policies that take race into account as one of many relevant factors.
   HOW LONG WAS LAST WEEK’S SESSION? Beacon Hill Roll Call tracks the length of time that the House and Senate were in session each week. Many legislators say that legislative sessions are only one aspect of the Legislature’s job and that a lot of important work is done outside of the House and Senate chambers. They note that their jobs also involve committee work, research, constituent work and other matters that are important to their districts. Critics say that the Legislature does not meet regularly or long enough to debate and vote in public view on the thousands of pieces of legislation that have been filed. They note that the infrequency and brief length of sessions are misguided and lead to irresponsible late night sessions and a mad rush to act on dozens of bills in the days immediately preceding the end of an annual session.
    During the week of November 2-6, the House met for a total of five hours and 50 minutes while the Senate met for a total of eight hours and 41 minutes.


Mon. November 2 House 11:03 a.m. to 11:09 a.m.

                      Senate 11:01 a.m. to 1:51 p.m.

Tues. November 3 No House session

                      No Senate session
Wed. November 4 House 11:04 a.m. to 3:29 p.m.

                      No Senate session
Thurs. November 5 House 11:00 a.m. to 11:19 a.m.

                      Senate 11:09 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Fri. November 6 No House session

                      No Senate session
Bob Katzen welcomes feedback at

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