MEMO TO BHRC SUBSCRIBERS: This week’s report is on the 2015 roll call attendance record of your local representatives. Some representatives may have poor attendance records for a variety of reasons, including health problems or military service. We asked the five legislators with the worst attendance records to explain their reasons for missing votes. We did not ask other representatives why they missed roll call votes, but 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 representatives’ roll call attendance records for the 2015 session.
The House has held 179 roll call votes. Beacon Hill Roll Call tabulates the number of roll calls on which each representative 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.
Several quorum roll calls, used to gather a majority of members onto the House floor to conduct business, are also included in the 224 roll calls. On quorum roll calls, members simply vote “present” in order to indicate their presence in the chamber. When a representative does not indicate his or her presence on a quorum roll call, we count that as a roll call absence just like any other roll call absence.
Only 78 (49.3 percent) of the House’s 158 members have 100 percent roll call attendance records.
The representative who missed the most roll calls is Rep. Harold Naughton (D-Clinton), who missed 131 (26.8 percent attendance) because of his military service.
Also included in the top five worst records are Reps. Gail Cariddi (D-North Adams), who missed 109 (39.1 percent attendance); Gerald Parisella (D-Beverly) and Louis Kafka (D-Sharon), who missed 100 (44.1 percent attendance); and Evandro Carvalho (D-Dorchester), who missed 54 roll calls (69.8 percent).
Parisella missed many votes because of his military service, Cariddi and Kafka both had medical issues and Carvalho’s wife gave birth to their first child.
REPRESENTATIVE’S 2015 ROLL CALL ATTENDANCE RECORDS
The percentage listed next to the representative’s name is the percentage of roll call votes for which he or she was present and voting. The number in parentheses represents the number of roll calls that the he or she missed.
Rep. Christine Barber 100 percent (0) Rep. Denise Provost 100 percent (0) Rep. Timothy Toomey 100 percent (0)
ALSO UP ON BEACON HILL
RECORKING WINE (H 1909) – The House gave initial approval to a bill that would expand the current law allowing restaurant and hotel customers to bring home an unfinished bottle of wine. The proposal would expand the law to taverns, clubs and veterans’ organizations like American Legion posts. The wine would have to be resealed and then placed in a one-time-use tamper-proof, transparent bag.
Supporters said it is time to expand this law to ensure that people do not finish their bottle of wine just so it doesn’t go to waste. They noted that often leads to drunken driving.
REQUIRE HOSPITALS TO GIVE FLU SHOTS (H 1917) – The Public Health Committee held a hearing on a proposal requiring hospitals to offer, prior to discharge, flu shots to all inpatients 65 years of age or older at the hospital from October 1 to March 1 of the following year.
INMATES MUST PAY FEES FOR THEIR INCARCERATION (S 1300) – The Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee held a hearing on a measure that would require non-indigent prison inmates to pay $2 per day to defray the cost of incarceration. Inmates who could not afford the fees would have an outstanding bill when they leave prison.
Supporters of the fee said it is time that criminals share a small portion of the financial burden of room and board and other services. They noted there are a lot of prisoners who enter prison with money, which is then put in their canteen fund to buy personal items and candy. They argued that the proposal would raise up to $120 million in much-needed revenue.
Some opponents of the fee said the proposal is misguided and mean-spirited and argued that the revenue from this program would amount to less than the cost of administering it. Others said that money would be better spent to help inmates reintegrate into society after their release.
BAN CELL PHONES UNLESS HANDS-FREE (H 3474) – The Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee held a hearing on a bill that would prohibit all drivers from using a hand-held cell phone but allow them to use a hands-free one. It imposes on violators a fine of $500 for a first offense, $1,000 for a second offense and $1,500 for a third or subsequent offense. The measure also provides that some of the fines go into a newly created special trust fund used to pay to train police officers.
Supporters say the bill would save lives and prevent accidents. They pointed to accidents, deaths and injuries involving cell phones.
Although no one testified against the measure, some opponents say the restriction is another example of government intrusion into people’s cars and lives. Others note that there are already laws on the books prohibiting driving while distracted.
PROHIBIT CITIES AND TOWNS FROM BANNING GUNS (S 1084) – The Committee on Municipalities and Regional Government held a hearing on a bill that would prohibit counties, cities and towns from passing any law or regulation concerning the ownership, use, purchase and receipt of weapons, antique weapons, ammunition or ammunition components.
BAN STYROFOAM PACKAGING (S 1086) – The Committee on Municipalities and Regional Government’s hearing also included a bill that would allow cities and towns to ban the commercial sale and use of any Styrofoam and other polystyrene containers. Styrofoam is the Dow Chemical Company’s brand name of polystyrene. These containers are the familiar white plastic foam ones that supermarkets and fast food and other restaurants use to package and serve food and drinks.
QUOTABLE QUOTES, SPECIAL NUMBERS EDITION
Massachusetts’ ranking out of 50 states rated in the 2015 America’s Health Rankings Annual Report.
The amount of federal disaster assistance reimbursements to Massachusetts municipalities, state agencies and eligible private non-profit organizations for storm-related costs as a result of last winter’s record snowfall.
The amount of money Vida Ofori Causey of Worcester made in a food stamp fraud scheme that she operated out of her Worcester convenience store.
34 out of 47.
The number of sections of the August 2014 domestic violence prevention law that have been fully implemented.
The low speed limit allowed to be imposed by cities and towns in senior citizen safety zones that include senior citizen housing, hospitals, nursing homes and assisted living facilities.
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 December 7-11, the House met for a total of 20 minutes while the Senate met for a total 17 minutes.
Mon. December 7 House 11:01 a.m. to 11:06 a.m.
Senate 11:05 a.m. to 11:13 a.m.
Tues. December 8 No House session
No Senate session
Wed. December 9 No House session
No Senate session
Thurs. December 10 House 11:03 a.m. to 11:18 a.m.
Senate 11:01 a.m. to 11:10 a.m.
Fri. December 11 No House session
No Senate session
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