Beacon Hill Roll Call Volume 41 – Report No. 22 May 30 – June 3, 2016

  

By Bob Katzen 

   THE HOUSE AND SENATE. Beacon Hill Roll Call records local representatives’ votes on roll calls from the week of May 30-June 3. There were no roll calls in the Senate last week.
PROHIBIT DISCRIMINATION AGAINST TRANSGENDER PEOPLE (H 4343)

   House 116-36, approved the bill that would expand current law prohibiting discrimination against transgender people by adding “gender identity” to existing Massachusetts civil rights laws that already prohibit discrimination in public accommodations on the basis of age, race, creed, color, national origin, sexual orientation, sex, religion and marital status. The proposal also allows transgender people to use public facilities, including restrooms and locker rooms, that match their gender identity rather than their biological sex.
   Supporters said transgender individuals still face the threat of discrimination in many public accommodations. They argued that under current Massachusetts law, there is no protection ensuring that transgender people cannot be turned away from a restroom, locker room, hotel, restaurant, retail stores and many other places simply because they are transgender. They said it is time to have Massachusetts join the other 17 states that offer these protections. 
   Opponents said the privacy rights of children matter and asked how youngsters might react to a transgender classmate using the same bathroom. They argued that bathroom and locker room use should be based on the gender on one’s birth certificate, not on an inner sense of feeling or expression. They said that male predators could use this law as cover to excuse their presence in women-only spaces.
   The Senate has approved a different version of the bill. The House version now goes to the Senate for consideration. Gov. Charlie Baker has indicated he favors the House version. And as extra insurance, both branches have sufficient votes to override any unexpected veto by the governor.
   (A “Yes” vote is for the bill. A “No” vote is against the bill.)

 Rep. Christine Barber Yes Rep. Denise Provost Yes Rep. Timothy Toomey Yes                                     
EXEMPT SCHOOLS (H 4343)

   House 36-120, rejected an amendment that would exempt schools from the proposed transgender law.
   Amendment supporters said exempting schools would make the bill more palatable and not create problems for students.
   Amendment opponents said the exemption would allow hundreds of schools to discriminate.
(A “Yes” vote is for the exemption. A “No” vote is against it.)

 Rep. Christine Barber No Rep. Denise Provost No Rep. Timothy Toomey No                                      
MEDICAL STANDARD (H 4343)

   House 11-145, rejected an amendment that would require that gender identity that is different from a person’s assigned gender at birth, must be proven by providing evidence including, medical history, care or treatment of the gender-related identity. Current law allows gender identity to be proven by “consistent and uniform assertion of the gender-related identity or any other evidence that the gender-related identity is sincerely held as part of a person’s core identity.”
   Amendment supporters said this will establish a medical standard instead of just allowing people to decide what they are every morning when they wake up.
   Amendment opponents said the amendment goes too far. They noted that transgender people should continue to have the right to choose their identity without a doctor’s interference.
   (A “Yes” vote is for the amendment. A “No” vote is against it.)

 Rep. Christine Barber No Rep. Denise Provost No Rep. Timothy Toomey No/No                                   
EXEMPT LOCKER ROOMS AND BATHROOMS (H 4343)

   House 32-124, rejected an amendment that would exempt showers and locker rooms from the proposed transgender law.
   Amendment supporters said this exemption is very narrow and would simply give business owners and religious organizations the opportunity to decide on their shower and locker room policies.
   Amendment opponents said the amendment kills a main portion of the proposed law and would allow discrimination.
   (A “Yes” vote is for exempting locker rooms and showers. A “No” vote is against the exemption.)

 Rep. Christine Barber No Rep. Denise Provost No Rep. Timothy Toomey No                                      
PARENTS CAN ACCOMPANY CHILDREN UNDER 12 TO BATHROOM (H 4343)

   House 42-113, rejected an amendment that would allow parents or legal guardians, regardless of their gender, to accompany their children under the age of 12 into a public restroom.
   Amendment supporters said no parent should be forced to let their young child go alone into a restroom knowing that there might be problems inside.
   Amendment opponents said the amendment waters down the bill and could lead to a slippery slope and more exemptions.
   (A “Yes” vote is for the amendment. A “No” vote is against it.)

 Rep. Christine Barber No Rep. Denise Provost No Rep. Timothy Toomey No                                      
BAN SEX OFFENDERS (H 4343)

   House 58-94, rejected an amendment that would prohibit Level 2 and Level 3 sex offenders from using any sex-segregated facility, bathroom or locker room that is not consistent with his or her assigned sex at birth. Level 2 offenders pose a moderate risk of reoffending while Level 3 ones pose a high risk.
   Amendment supporters said a sex offender who is a transgender woman (a person who was assigned male at birth but whose gender identity is that of a woman) should not have access to places where women and girls expect to see only other women and girls. 
   Some amendment opponents said the bill is civil rights legislation and should not be muddied up with these various amendments that fool with and water down the bill. Others said that sex offenders have an extremely low rate of recidivism.
   (A “Yes” vote is for the amendment. A “No” vote is against it.)

 Rep. Christine Barber No Rep. Denise Provost No Rep. Timothy Toomey No                                      

  ALSO UP ON BEACON HILL
   PUBLIC RECORDS (H 4333) – Gov. Charlie Baker legislation designed to ensure that the state and local municipalities comply in a timely way with requests for public records. The measure would also reduce costs to people making the requests.

  

   The legislation requires each state agency and municipality to appoint at least one public records access officer to serve as the point of contact for all public records requests; limits to $25 per hour the fees municipalities and state agencies can charge for time spent responding to requests; and requires agencies and municipalities to make documents available in electronic form.
   Supporters say this will make state and local government more transparent. They argued it is not acceptable for the members of the news media or for ordinary citizens to face unreasonable delays and high costs to gain access to information that is supposed to be public. 
   MOVE OVER FOR EMERGENCY VEHICLES (H 4244) – The House gave initial approval to a bill expanding the current “Move Over Law” to include public utility vehicles. The current law requires drivers to reduce their speed to that of a “reasonable and safe speed for road conditions” when they spot an emergency vehicle with flashing lights on the side of the highway. The current law applies to fire trucks, police vehicles, ambulances, disaster vehicles and highway maintenance vehicles.
   REQUIRE REPORTING OF CHILD ABUSE (H 132) – The House gave initial approval to a bill adding drug and alcoholism counselors, athletic coaches, tutors and any employees at public and private schools to the current list of professionals required to report instances of the abuse, sexual abuse or neglect of a child under 18. The current list of mandated reporters includes doctors and medical personnel, teachers and educational personnel, police officers, firefighters and many human service professionals.
   HEARING AIDS (H 262) – The House gave initial approval to a bill that would allow Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) doctors to sell hearing aids to their patients.
   Supporters, noting Massachusetts is one of two states that does not allow ENT doctors to sell hearing aids, said this will allow patients, especially seniors, to get fit for and buy their hearing aids at their doctor’s office. They argued that it is inconvenient and sometimes difficult for patients to find a nearby place to buy hearing aids and that this bill will give them more choices.
   Opponents said the bill will hurt audiologists whose sole living is from selling hearing aids. They argued that allowing ENT doctors to sell hearing aids is more about money and profit than it is about convenience.
   PROHIBIT MINORS UNDER 18 FROM TANNING INDOORS (S 1994)
   A new law that took effect in May will prohibit anyone under age 18 from operating or using an indoor tanning device. Prior law prohibited teens age 16 and 17 from indoor tanning without parental permission and banned anyone under age 16 from indoor tanning.
   Supporters say these booths are dangerous and increase by 75 percent a person’s chance of getting melanoma, a dangerous and sometimes fatal skin cancer. They note that while adults can make their own decisions, it is the state’s job to protect children.
   Opponents say this is another example of government intrusion into what should be a decision made by parents. They warn against a slippery slope in which children under 18 are banned from eating things like fast food and junk food, which often lead to health problems.
   GIVE ADOPTEES ACCESS TO BIRTH RECORDS (S 1144) – The House gave initial approval to a bill giving adoptees who are over 18 and were adopted between July 17, 1974, and December 31, 2007, access to their birth certificates including the names of their biological parents. This right is currently given to all other adoptees except those born in that time period.
   Supporters said that adoptees have a right to get the names of their biological parents. They noted that the measure would save lives by allowing these adoptees to have access to their families’ medical histories.
    Opponents said the bill violates the confidentiality that birth parents were promised. They argued the bill would increase the number of abortions because biological parents would no longer be guaranteed anonymity. 
   QUOTABLE QUOTES – “Special Transgender Edition” – Quotes on passage of the bill that would protect transgender individuals from discrimination in public accommodations.
  “Today, the Massachusetts House joined the Senate in taking an important step toward ensuring the stain of discrimination against transgender people is a relic of the past. This vote demonstrates that our state is a welcoming one that values all people.”
   State Auditor Suzanne Bump.

   “The bill allows people on a routine basis to decide if they are male or female. Your anatomy is no longer relevant. This has absolutely nothing to do with discrimination, it has everything to do with changing our society and social engineering by those on the left. I’m not interested in changing society.”
   Rep. James Lyons (R-Andover)

  “This law will help ensure dignity and respect for transgender people and allow them to more fully thrive in Massachusetts. Today’s victory would not have been possible without the brave voices of transgender people who have been telling their stories and educating lawmakers for decades.”
   Carly Burton, campaign manager of Freedom Massachusetts.
   

   “The bill as passed allows registered sex offenders to claim a gender identity in order to access whatever bathroom they want … and makes it a crime for a parent to question a biological man who seeks to use the same locker room or bathroom as their daughter. 
   Andrew Beckwith, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Family Institute.
   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 May 30-June 3, the House met for a total of eight hours and one minute and the Senate met for a total of one hour and five minutes.
Mon. May 30 No House session

                     No Senate session
Tues. May 31 House 11:04 a.m. to 11:10 a.m.

                     Senate 11:04 a.m. to 11:07 a.m.
 Wed. June 1 House 11:01 a.m. to 6:04 p.m.

                     No Senate session

 

Thurs. June 2 House 11:03 a.m. to 11:55 a.m.

                     Senate 11:07 a.m. to 12:09 p.m.

 

Fri. June 3 No House session

                     No Senate session
Bob Katzen welcomes feedback at bob@beaconhillrollcall.com

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