By Bob Katzen
THE HOUSE AND SENATE: Following tradition, the House and Senate had no formal sessions during last week’s April school vacation. There were no roll calls in the House or Senate.
This week, Beacon Hill Roll Call reports the percentage of times local representatives voted with their party’s leadership in 2015. The votes of the 2015 membership of 33 Republicans were compared with those of GOP House Minority Leader Bradley Jones (R-North Reading). The votes of the 2015 membership of 125 Democrats were compared to House Speaker Robert DeLeo (D-Winthrop). Beacon Hill Roll Call uses 170 votes from the 2015 House session as the basis for this report. This includes all roll calls that were not quorum calls or on local issues.
A total of 82 of the 125 Democrats voted with DeLeo 100 percent of the time. That means nearly two-thirds of the Democrats always voted with DeLeo.
The Democratic representatives who voted the lowest percentage of times with the DeLeo are Reps. Jonathan Zlotnik (D-Gardner) and Colleen Garry (D-Dracut), who both voted with DeLeo 95.9 percent of the time.
None of the 33 GOP members voted with Jones 100 percent of the time.
The GOP representative who voted with Jones the lowest percentage of times is Rep. David Vieira (R-Falmouth) who voted with Jones only 71.2 percent of the time.
LOCAL REPRESENTATIVES’ PERCENTAGE OF VOTES SUPPORTING THEIR PARTY’S LEADERSHIP
Here is how local representatives fared in their support of the leadership of their party on 170 roll calls.
The percentage next to the representative’s name represents the percentage of times the representative supported his or her party’s leadership.
The number in parentheses represents the number of times the representative opposed his or her party’s leadership.
Some representatives voted on all 170 roll call votes. Others missed one or more of the 170 votes. The percentage for each representative is calculated based on the number of roll calls on which he or she voted and does not count the roll calls for which he or she was absent.
Rep. Christine Barber 99.4 percent (1) Rep. Denise Provost 96.5 percent (6) Rep. Timothy Toomey 100 percent (0)
ALSO UP ON BEACON HILL
DRUG TRAFFICKING REGISTRY (S 1294) – A proposal before the Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee would create a drug trafficking registry to identify convicted drug dealers and make the information available to law enforcement and the public. The information would include the drug dealer’s name, date of birth, photograph and the offenses of which he or she was convicted.
Supporters say this will help law enforcement and the public keep tabs on these drug dealers. They argue the public should have a right to know if a convicted drug dealer is living next door.
CHILD ABUSE LAWSUITS (H 4150) – A bill before the Judiciary Committee would eliminate the current one-year statute of limitations after an alleged pedophile dies to bring a lawsuit.
Supporters say this current law is unfair to victims because it offers “protection” to the accused abuser after he dies.
The most recent change to this law was a 2014 law increasing the statute of limitations during which a person can file a civil suit for child sexual abuse. Prior law allowed victims to file a suit up until the age of 21 while the 2014 law increased the age to 53.
Supporters of the 2014 law say that many children who are victims of sexual abuse are not emotionally ready to confront the situation until many years later.
HOUSE APPROVES SEVERAL BILLS – The House gave initial approval to several bills including:
FIREFIGHTERS AND THE MDA (H 2277) – Allows Bay State firefighters to wear their uniforms while soliciting donations for the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA). The International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) raises millions of dollars annually for the MDA through its “Fill the Boot” campaigns at which firefighters greet and ask motorists, shoppers, fans at sporting events and others to make a donation to MDA.
Supporters said allowing firefighters to wear uniforms will increase their visibility and result in more funds being raised.
The relationship between the IAFF and the MDA began in Boston more than 60 years ago. Charlie Crowley, the father of two sons with muscular dystrophy, sought the help of his friend George Graney, a firefighter from Fire Engine Company 1 in South Boston, to raise money to take care of Crowley’s two sons. Graney and 20 of his fellow firefighters proceeded to collect $5,000 by going door-to-door. In 1953, the drive expanded and became a citywide fundraising campaign.
In 1954 at the IAFF convention in Miami, Graney led the campaign to make the MDA the International’s “charity of choice.” Since that time, the bond between the two groups has grown and the IAFF became the chief sponsor of the MDA’s Labor Day Telethon and continues to raise hundreds of millions of dollars.
MAKE LANDLORDS PAY FOR POLICE CALLS (H 4115) – Requires the owner of a property to pay the cost of police response to more than 10 criminal incidents per year. This would only apply to crimes resulting in an arrest, citation, application for a criminal complaint or indictment including disturbing the peace, trespassing, underage drinking, assault, dumping or similar violations of local or state law.
Supporters said there are many properties owners and renters across the state who are irresponsible and allow illegal activities to occur on their property. They argued that citizens should not have to pay the cost of repeated complaints and police responses to these incidents.
JURY DUTY EXEMPTION (H 1556) – Extends from the current three years to six years the period of time during which a member of a grand jury is exempt from any additional juror service.
QUOTABLE QUOTES – Special 420 Marijuana Edition.
Supporters and opponents give their opinions on a possible November 2016 ballot question legalizing, licensing, regulating and taxing marijuana and allowing adults over 21 to grow it for their personal use and the use by others over 21.
“We know use of marijuana can have a serious impact on young people’s brain development, career growth and even their IQ.”
Dr. Sion Harris, Director of the Center for Adolescent Substance Abuse Research at Boston Children’s Hospital.
“We share the goal of reducing marijuana use among youth, but we think regulating it is much better than leaving drug cartels and criminals in control.”
Jim Borghesani, Communications Director for the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol.
“We are still learning the impact of commercial legalization on the illegal drug market in Colorado. But one thing is clear – it certainly doesn’t eliminate it. And in this case, it is creating an entirely new black market for out-of-state drug traffickers to come in and set up shop.”
Corey Welford, spokesperson for the Campaign for a Safe and Healthy Massachusetts.
“We will join healthcare professionals, law enforcement, educators and family advocates to educate the public about the risks associated with this dangerous proposal and the serious adverse consequences facing states who have adopted similar laws.”
Gov. Charlie Baker.
“Gov. Baker and [Boston] Mayor Walsh want to make alcohol easier to get while driving the 842,000 people over 18 in Massachusetts who used marijuana last year to drug pushers who sell dangerous drugs like heroin and don’t ask for IDs.”
Will Luzier, Manager of the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol.
“Happy 420 Day.”
A legislator who requested anonymity, on the annual celebration of April 20 (4/20) as the worldwide holiday celebrating the smoking of marijuana.
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 April 18-22, the House met for a total of 31 minutes and the Senate met for a total of 21 minutes.
Mon. April 18 No House session
No Senate session
Tues. April 19 House 11:03 a.m. to 11:19 a.m.
Senate 11:22 a.m. to 11:29 a.m.
Wed. April 20 No House session
No Senate session
Thurs. April 21 House 11:01 a.m. to 11:16 a.m.
Senate 11:03 a.m. to 11:17 a.m.
Fri. April 22 No House session
No Senate session
Bob Katzen welcomes feedback at email@example.com