Beacon Hill Roll Call Volume 40 -Report No. 48 December 4, 2015


By Bob Katzen 

   MEMO TO BHRC SUBSCRIBERS: This week’s report is on the 2015 roll call attendance record of your local senators. Some senators may have poor attendance records for a variety of reasons, including health problems or military service. It is something you may want to check out with any of your local legislators who have missed roll call votes. If we can be of further assistance, please feel free to contact us.
   This week’s report follows:
   THE HOUSE AND SENATE. There were no roll call votes in the House or Senate last week. This week, Beacon Hill Roll Call reports local senators’ roll call attendance records for the 2015 session.
   The Senate held 212 roll call votes. Beacon Hill Roll Call tabulates the number of roll calls on which each senator was present and voting and then calculates that number as a percentage of the total roll call votes held. That percentage is the number referred to as the roll call attendance record.
   Twenty-three of the Senate’s 40 members have 100 percent roll call attendance records.
   Some senators may have poor attendance records for a variety of reasons including health problems or military service. 

   The senator who missed the most roll calls is Sen. William Brownsberger (D-Belmont), who missed 57 roll calls (73.1 percent attendance). All the roll calls missed by Brownsberger were held on one day, July 30. There were 69 roll calls that day and Brownsberger missed 57 of them. He told Beacon Hill Roll Call, “I left the Senate session at 4 p.m. for a long-scheduled meeting with the District Attorneys Association, returning to the Statehouse at 10:30 p.m., after the Senate session ended.” 
   The other four senators who missed the most roll calls are Sens. Jennifer Flanagan (D-Leominster), 15 roll calls (92.9 percent attendance); Eileen Donoghue (D-Lowell), 13 roll calls (93.9 percent attendance); Barbara L’Italien (D-Andover), eight roll calls (96.2 percent attendance); and Thomas McGee (D-Lynn), seven roll calls (96.7 percent attendance).

   The percentage listed next to the senator’s name is the percentage of roll call votes for which the senator was present and voting. The number in parentheses represents the number of roll calls that the senator missed.

 Sen. Patricia Jehlen 99.5 percent (1)                        

  INFO ON SEX OFFENDERS (H 1407) – The Judiciary Committee held a hearing on a bill that would allow a victim to obtain information on his or her perpetrator including their home address, secondary address, work address and where the offender attends school.
   Supporters said it might help victims feel more secure if they have this information. They said the victim, not the offender, is the priority.
   Opponents said some sex offenders have expressed fears of retaliation by victims’ families if all this information is provided.
   SEX OFFENSES – The hearing also included legislation expanding the definition of incest to include sexual relationships with adoptive parents and stepparents (H 1396). The measure was first proposed in 2004 in response to a court ruling that a stepfather could not be charged with incest for having intercourse with his stepdaughter. 
   Other bills heard by the Judiciary Committee include prohibiting Level 3 sex offenders from living in the same single-family or multi-family dwelling as another Level 3 offender unless they are legally related (H 1411) and abolishing the statute of limitations that limits the period of time after the alleged crime during which a victim who was under 18 at the time of the alleged assault, can bring charges against a person for child sexual abuse (S 865). Current civil law affords a victim up until the age of 21 to file a suit. The same bill was defeated in 2014 when it was sent to a study committee.
  CLEAR TITLE TO PROPERTY (S 2015) – Gov. Charlie Baker signed into law a bill that supporters said would provide relief to Massachusetts homeowners who currently lack clear title to their homes due to prior faulty foreclosures while opponents argued the law would curtail illegally foreclosed homeowners’ right to regain title to their homes.
   Supporters say the measure was filed in response to a Supreme Judicial Court decision that voided thousands of foreclosure sales. They note the court said that a foreclosure is void if the foreclosing lender cannot produce a written assignment of its mortgage prior to the first publication of notice. They say the bill remedies this problem by allowing the affidavit recorded during the sale of the property to serve as conclusive evidence that the foreclosing lender is in compliance. They note this will help thousands of homeowners who unwittingly purchased an improperly foreclosed property and are currently without a clear title and consequently unable to sell or refinance their homes.
   The law is vehemently opposed by the Massachusetts Alliance Against Predatory Lending (MAAPL), which says it will adversely affect some 70,000 illegally foreclosed Massachusetts families by slashing the period to file in court and recover their homes from the present 20 years to one year after the law goes into effect. They argue the law is unconstitutional and curtails the property rights of every Massachusetts resident who has a mortgage. They promise to take the matter to court. 
   INSPECTION STICKER AND INSURANCE (S 525) – The Financial Services Committee held a hearing on a bill that would prohibit failure to have an inspection sticker from counting as a violation that raises insurance rates on consumers under the state’s Safe Driver Insurance Plan (SDIP). The plan encourages safe driving by providing incentives to drivers with clean driving records and ensuring that drivers who collect surcharge points pay more for auto insurance.
  “We believe this action sends an important message about the urgency of climate change and the University community’s commitment to addressing it.”
   Charles J. Pagnam, executive vice president of the Umass Foundation, on the group’s decision to divest from direct investments in coal companies. The foundation, which oversees $770 million in endowment assets for the Umass system, is a private, non-profit corporation founded in 1950 to foster and promote the growth, progress and general welfare of Umass.

   “A recent ‘Newsweek’ poll found that almost half the respondents failed to define the purpose of the Bill of Rights. Ninety-eight percent of graduating high school seniors could not explain Brown v. Board of Education.”
   From a report by the Pioneer Institute, an independent and privately funded research organization, concluding that states should mandate passage of a U.S. history assessment with a strong focus on the nation’s founding documents as a high school graduation requirement.

   “I believe we are far better prepared for this winter than we were for last winter … But obviously, Mother Nature may have other plans, and we’ll have to wait and see how that plays out.”
   Gov. Charlie Baker on the MBTA’s preparation for this winter.

    Senate President Stanley Rosenberg on whether he would support legislation that would raise the legal purchasing age for tobacco products from 18 to 21.

   The annual salary of Pension Reserves Investment Management (PRIM) Executive Director Michael Trotsky. PRIM oversees the state’s $60 billion-plus pension fund.
   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 30-December 4, the House met for a total of 12 minutes while the Senate met for a total 9 minutes.
Mon. November 30 House 11:00 a.m. to 11:05 a.m.

                    Senate 11:16 a.m. to 11:19 a.m.
Tues. December 1 No House session

                    No Senate session
Wed. December 2 No House session

                    No Senate session
Thurs. December 3 House 11:05 a.m. to 11:12 a.m.

                    Senate 11:08 a.m. to 11:14 a.m.


Fri. December 4 No House session

                    No Senate session
Bob Katzen welcomes feedback at

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