By Bob Katzen
THE HOUSE AND SENATE: Beacon Hill Roll Call records the votes of local senators on roll calls from prior legislative sessions. There were no roll calls in the House or Senate last week.
CHILD EXPLOITATION (S 2048)
Senate 37-0, approved an amendment providing that the state establish age-appropriate guidelines for child exploitation awareness education for students in grades 2 and above. The program would define child exploitation, recognize types of it and create awareness of warning signs of child exploitation, child abduction and child sexual abuse.
Amendment supporters said it would educate children on the warning signs of child sexual abuse so they can be better prepared to defend themselves.
(A “Yes” vote is for the amendment.)
Sen. Patricia Jehlen Yes
CERTIFY COMPANIES THAT PROVIDE SEXUAL HEALTH EDUCATION (S 2048)
Senate 9-28, rejected an amendment that would require companies that provide public schools with sexual health and child exploitation education to be certified by the state annually online or in a classroom.
Amendment supporters said that without this requirement, schools would be allowed to contract with non-certified entities. They noted the amendment would help ensure the education information provided is accurate and reliable.
Amendment opponents offered no arguments.
(A “Yes” vote is for requiring certification. A “No” vote is against it.)
Sen. Patricia Jehlen No
PARENTS “OPT IN” RATHER THAN “OPT OUT” (S 2048)
Senate 9-29, rejected an amendment that would change a provision in the current bill that requires parents who don’t want their children to take a sex education course to “opt out” of the course by informing the school of that request. The amendment would replace the “opt out” provision with an “opt in” one that enrolls the student in a sex education class only if the parent gives consent.
Amendment supporters said the default should be that no student is signed up for the course unless the parent gives permission. They noted that sex education is a very sensitive and controversial topic that should not start off with the assumption that everyone is required to take the course.
Amendment opponents said the amendment will result in many students not receiving important information that will keep them safe. They noted that teen pregnancy and STD rates are too high and would be reduced by this education.
(A “Yes” vote is for the amendment that enrolls a student only if the parent decides to opt in. A “No” vote is against the amendment.)
Sen. Patricia Jehlen No
ALSO UP ON BEACON HILL
GOVERNOR SIGN BILLS INTO LAW
Gov. Charlie Baker signed several bills into law this week including the following four:
FENTANYL TRAFFICKING (H 3755) – Creates the crime of trafficking the drug fentanyl in amounts greater than 10 grams and imposes a prison sentence of up to 20 years for those convicted of the crime. Under current law a person can only be charged with manufacturing, distributing or possessing fentanyl, but not with trafficking.
STOLEN VALOR (H 1641) – Makes 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.
FLAG HOLDERS (H 3173) – Makes it a crime to destroy, mutilate or deface an American flag, veteran’s commemorative flag holder or a commemorative flag holder representing service in either the police or fire department. Offenders would be sentenced to up to five years in prison.
FREE ACCESS TO STATE PARKS FOR VETERANS (H 3243) – Provides 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.
OTHER BILLS GET INITIAL APPROVAL OR ARE DELAYED
BOSTON CREAM PIE CUPCAKE (H 3366) – The House gave initial approval to a bill making the Boston cream pie cupcake the state’s official cupcake. The measure is sponsored by Rep. Angelo Puppolo (D-Springfield). The campaign for this designation is based on Springfield’s Koffee Kup Bakery version of this dessert.
As the story goes, Gov. Baker during a campaign stop was introduced to the dessert and it’s been a love fest ever since. Puppolo said, “Gov. Baker has made this cupcake popular with friendly wages.” When Baker bets with other governors on sporting events, his “go to” item is a box of Boston cream pie cupcakes. He has bet with several governors including Indiana’s Gov. Mike Pence when the Patriots played the Colts in the AFC championship game and with North Dakota’s Gov. Jack Dalrymple when Boston University and the University of North Dakota faced each other at the Frozen Four national semifinal.
The Boston cream pie donut has been the state’s official donut since 2003 while the Boston cream pie has held the title of official dessert of the Bay State since 1996.
“It’s time Massachusetts has an official cupcake,” concluded Puppolo.
SLEEP AWARENESS WEEK (H 2805) – The House gave initial approval to a bill designating the second week of March as Massachusetts Sleep Awareness Week. The focus would be on the problems of sleep deprivation and fatigue including drowsy driving, impaired reaction time, increased moodiness and aggressive behavior.
ASSESSMENT ON PAINT (S 408) – The Senate has delayed action on a bill that would create the Massachusetts Paint Stewardship Program, run by paint manufacturers, to coordinate the collection, recycling, reuse and environmentally sound disposal of used leftover house paint purchased by consumers. The program would be funded by adding a fee to paint sold in the Bay State. The bill mandates that under the plan, at least 90 percent of residents have a collection site within a 15-mile radius and that at least one collection site is established in each city and town with a population of 50,000 or more.
Supporters say this environmentally friendly and fiscally responsible program will increase the recycling of paint, save millions of dollars in paint disposal costs for cities and towns and create many green jobs.
Some opponents said the fee is nothing more than an unnecessary tax on consumers already overburdened with taxes. Others say this would create a slippery slope which could lead to this type of recovery system and tax on other items including spray cans, pillows, mattresses and tires that the government would decide need to be handled the same way.
“First of all, [the marijuana legislation] is in the ‘joint’ committee.”
Senate President Stan Rosenberg (D-Amherst) talking about a bill legalizing recreational marijuana. He told reporters that he didn’t intentionally make the pun. Joint committees are House-Senate committees on which both senators and representatives serve.
“These laws are yet another example of how Massachusetts continues to lead the nation when it comes to treatment of those who have served and truly sacrificed.”
Secretary of Veterans’ Services Francisco Urena on Gov. Baker’s signing of five pieces of legislation supporting members of the Armed Services, veterans, first responders and their families.
“$20.1 billion over the next 15 years, and $2.3 billion annually by 2030.”
According to Transportation for Massachusetts and the Massachusetts Public Interest Research Group Education Fund, the amount that Massachusetts taxpayers would save with simply a 1 percent decrease in driving.
“The 1.9 mile stretch of I-93 between Route 1 and the Massachusetts Turnpike.”
Named the nation’s 15th worst bottleneck by the American Highway Users Alliance ranking of “America’s Top 50 Bottlenecks.” The report, which focuses on time, gasoline and productivity lost in gridlock, estimates that the I-93 bottleneck is responsible for a total of more than 2 million hours in annual delays and $58 million in lost time — in addition to almost 1.9 million gallons of wasted fuel.
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 23-27, the House met for a total of one hour and one minute while the Senate met for a total of one hour and 17 minutes.
Mon. November 23 House 11:03 a.m. to 12:01 p.m.
Senate 11:02 a.m. to 12:07 p.m.
Tues. November 24 No House session
No Senate session
Wed. November 25 House 11:00 a.m. to 11:04 a.m.
Senate 11:01 a.m. to 11:13 a.m.
Thurs. November 26 No House session
No Senate session
Fri. November 27 No House session
No Senate session
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