Beacon Hill Roll Call Volume 41 – Report No. 33 August 15-19, 2016

By Bob Katzen 

   THE HOUSE AND SENATE: Beacon Hill Roll Call records local senators’ and representatives’ votes on roll calls from July sessions.

    House 136-18, Senate 39-0, overrode Gov. Charlie Baker’s veto of $150,000 (from $28,550,167 to $28,400,167) in funding for the early intervention program. The program provides early intervention for families of children up to three years of age who have developmental difficulties because of health or environmental conditions.  
   Override supporters said the reduced funding would hurt this vital program that assists these children at an early age and helps them grow and attain the skills to increase their development. They noted that the program serves the child and family in their natural environments, including family homes, child care centers and community play groups in order to improve development by encouraging the child’s participation in everyday activities.
   In his veto message, Gov. Charlie Baker said that he vetoed the funding because it was not consistent with the original budget he filed.
    (A “Yes” vote is for spending the $150,000. A “No” vote is against spending it.)

 Rep. Christine Barber Yes Rep. Denise Provost Yes Rep. Timothy Toomey Yes Sen. Patricia Jehlen Yes                                     

   House 138-15, Senate 38-1, overrode Gov. Baker’s veto of the entire $400,000 in funding for the non-profit Samaritans organization for suicide prevention, including their 24-hour hotline. 
   Override supporters said this funding is essential to help with this important battle against a major public health problem. They noted that suicide results in an average of 500 deaths annually.
   In his veto message, the governor said that he vetoed the funding because it was not consistent with the original budget he filed.
    (A “Yes” vote is for spending the $400,000. A “No” vote is against spending it.)

 Rep. Christine Barber Yes Rep. Denise Provost Yes Rep. Timothy Toomey Yes Sen. Patricia Jehlen Yes                                     

   House 119-34, Senate 34-5, overrode Gov. Charlie Baker’s veto of $37,574 (from $ $3,757,371 to $3,719,797) in funding for the attorney general’s office to enforce the state’s wage laws including violations of overtime pay and the state’s current $10 per hour minimum wage law.
   Override supporters said it is important to working families to fully fund this enforcement. They noted the attorney general has the power to criminally prosecute or issue civil citations to employers who violate wage laws. 


   In his veto message, the governor said that he reduced this funding to the amount projected to be necessary.
   (A “Yes” vote is for spending the $37,574. A “No” vote is against it.)

 Rep. Christine Barber Yes Rep. Denise Provost Yes Rep. Timothy Toomey Yes Sen. Patricia Jehlen Yes                                     

   Senate 40-0, approved and sent to the House a bill to strengthen the state’s anti-human trafficking laws and help put a stop to victims who are forced into the commercial sex trade or involuntary labor. 
   Provisions increase from three years to ten years the time victims are allowed to file a civil suit against a trafficker; allow victims who committed non-felony crimes as a result of being trafficked to petition the court to vacate these convictions; mandate training for law enforcement, health professional and teachers to recognize the signs that someone is a victim of this heinous crime; and a public awareness campaign with signs posted in high-risk locations such as adult entertainment facilities and foreign cash transfers outlets.
   Supporters said this version of modern day slavery that affects mostly women and children must be combatted and eliminated. They noted the bill expands and toughens a 2011 law by cracking down even further on loathsome people who sell human beings. They noted the measure also provides significant tools and opportunities for victims to help restore their lives.  
  (A “Yes” vote is for the bill.)

 Sen. Patricia Jehlen Yes                                     

   Senate 39-0, approved an amendment that would help fund the training of law enforcement, health professionals and teachers to recognize the signs and help identify victims of human trafficking. The funds would come from a portion of the $900 per person fee currently paid by some defendants who are first-time offenders and are allowed by the courts to participate in the first offender commercial sexual exploitation prevention program, instead of going to prison. 
   The program provides each participant with information, counseling and services about the negative impact sex trafficking has on victims, the health risks involved including the risk of sexually transmitted diseases and issues relating to mental health, substance abuse and sexual addiction.
   Amendment supporters said these training programs help police officers, health professionals and teachers discover innocent victims so they can be rescued and get their lives back. 
   (A “Yes” vote is for the amendment.)

 Sen. Patricia Jehlen Yes                                     

   Gov. Baker recently signed into law several bills sent to him by the House and Senate including:
   MEDICAL ASSISTANTS CAN GIVE FLU SHOTS (H 3895) – Allows certified medical assistants who work in a doctor’s office to give flu and other immunization shots to patients. A certified medical technician is an individual who is a graduate of a post-secondary medical assisting education and performs basic administrative, clerical and clinical duties under the direct supervision of a doctor.
   Supporters say this will free up the time of doctors and nurses so they can work on more urgent medical issues.
   BULLYING OF TENANTS IN PUBLIC HOUSING (S 1984) – Creates a special commission to study the prevalence and impact of the bullying of tenants, with a focus on elderly and disabled tenants, in public and subsidized multi-family housing. The commission is required to hold public hearings across the state and by December 31, 2006, come up with its findings and recommendations.
   Supporters say bullying in public housing has become a big problem and must be addressed.
   REQUIRE INSURERS TO COVER LIPODYSTROPHY (S 2137) – Requires insurance companies to provide coverage for the treatment of lipodystrophy, a medical condition that can cause abnormal fat accumulation around the head and neck or excessive fat loss in the face and limbs. Lipodystrophy is associated with frequent injections at the same point on the body, such as injections of insulin, and it can be a side effect of the antiretroviral drugs used to treat HIV. 


   Supporters say this requirement would help improve the lives of many people afflicted with the condition. They argued that fat accumulation from lipodystrophy sometimes causes serious head and neck pain, the inability to sleep and posture issues. They noted that excessive fat loss can result in “facial wasting,” a clear sign to others that an individual has HIV. They said that many insurance companies currently deny coverage for this treatment and that some falsely describe the treatment as cosmetic surgery.
    NEWSPAPERS MUST PUBLISH PUBLIC NOTICES ONLINE (S 2428) – Requires newspapers that are paid to publish official state and local public notices in the paper’s print edition to also include them on the paper’s website at no additional cost. The measure also requires the papers to include the notices, at no extra charge, on a new statewide website, created and operated by a joint venture of Massachusetts newspapers. 
   Supporters say that readership of print copies of newspapers is way down and public notices in these papers are no longer seen by the majority of people.
   ALLOW MORE CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTIONS (H 542) – Allows donors to contribute the maximum $1,000 twice per year to a candidate who runs for the Legislature in a special election and a regular election in the same year. Current law only allows donors to give a maximum of $1,000 in any calendar year.
   Supporters say it is unfair to a candidate who runs in a special election and then runs for re-election in the same year but is limited to $1,000 per donor for the entire year. They argued current law gives an advantage to some candidates who are only running in the second election.
   QUOTABLE QUOTES – Special All Gov. Baker Edition on Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, Curt Schilling and charter schools.
     “Secretary Clinton has a problem with believability and Donald Trump doesn’t have the temperament to be president.”
   On the 2016 presidential election.

   “No. I’ve been pretty disappointed with our choices this year.”
   On whether he changed his mind about not supporting Trump following a speech by Mike Pence, Trump’s running mate, at the Republican Governors Association meeting in Colorado.

   “I admire the guy as a baseball player big time. But it’s pretty early to be talking about 2018.”
   On whether he would support former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling if he runs for the Senate against Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) IN 2018.

  “All I really want is for every parent in Massachusetts to have the same choice that I and most of the rest of people in Massachusetts have … the opportunity and ability to send their kids to the school of their choice.”
  On November Ballot Question 4 that would allow the state to open up to 12 new charter schools annually.
   “I gotta say I find it disappointing that the Democratic party, which I believe is full of a lot of people who believe in equal opportunity and giving everyone a choice, would choose to be against what is so important to working families and underperforming school districts.”
   On the Massachusetts Democratic Party’s vote to oppose charter school expansion.
    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 August 15-19, the House met for a total of 22 minutes while the Senate met for a total of one hour and eight minutes.
Mon. August 15 House 10:59 a.m. to 11:11 a.m.

                   Senate 11:14 a.m. to 11:24 a.m.
Tues. August 16 No House session

                   No Senate session
Wed. August 17 No House session

                   No Senate session
Thurs. August 18 House 11:05 a.m. to 11:15 a.m.

                   Senate 11:01 a.m. to 11:59 a.m.
Fri. August 19 No House session

                   No Senate session
Bob Katzen welcomes feedback at

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