Beacon Hill Roll Call Volume 41 – Report No. 34 August 22-26, 2016 


By Bob Katzen 

   THE HOUSE AND SENATE: Beacon Hill Roll Call records local senators’ and representatives’ votes on roll calls from late July sessions. All of the roll calls are from both branches’ overrides of some of Gov. Charlie Baker’s 256 vetoes of spending and other items in the recently signed $38.92 billion fiscal 2017 state budget. A two-thirds vote in both branches is needed in order for a veto to be overridden.
   In his veto message, Baker cites the state’s projected shortfall of $650 million to $950 million in the fiscal 2017 budget that the Legislature sent him. He said the vetoes are necessary to help close that gap. 
    He also gave a reason for reducing funding for each item that he vetoed. The reasons, however, as has been the case with governors of both parties in recent times, are vague and general. He used three phrases to explain many of his vetoes. “I am reducing this item to the amount projected to be necessary.” “I am vetoing this item because it is not consistent with my House 2 [original budget] recommendation.” And “I am striking language which earmarks funding for a program not recommended.”  
   Democratic legislative leaders disagree with Baker and say that all 256 of his vetoes could be overridden without pushing the state budget out of balance. They say that Baker’s cuts would have affected many important programs and hurt many people including minorities, women, seniors and children.
REDUCE GOVERNOR’S BUDGET BY $53,044 (H 4450)

  House 95-59, first sustained and then 105-49, overrode Governor Baker’s veto of $53,044 (from $5,304,390 to 5,251,346) in funding for the offices of Gov. Baker, Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito and the Governor’s Council. This was the only budget veto that the House actually sustained, only to reconsider and then override it. The Senate overrode the veto 25-13.
  (A “Yes” vote is for spending the $53,044. A “No” vote is against spending it. One roll call is recorded for senators and both roll calls are recorded for representatives.)

 Rep. Christine Barber Yes/Yes Rep. Denise Provost No/No Rep. Timothy Toomey No/No Sen. Patricia Jehlen Yes                                     
ELIMINATE ENTIRE $200,000 FOR PRE-KINDERGARTEN AND PRESCHOOL (H 4450)

   House 149-4, overrode, Senate 37-2, overrode and then after reconsideration unanimously overrode 39-0 the entire $200,000 in funding to support planning activities in cities, towns, regional school districts and educational collaboratives to expand their current pre-kindergarten or preschool opportunities. The measure requires that preference in awarding these funds be given to school districts serving high percentages of high-needs students.
   

    (A “Yes” vote is for spending the $200,000. A “No” vote is against spending it. One roll call is recorded for representatives and both roll calls are recorded for senators.)

 Rep. Christine Barber Yes Rep. Denise Provost Yes Rep. Timothy Toomey Yes Sen. Patricia Jehlen Yes/Yes                                 
ELIMINATE ENTIRE $150,000 TO ADDRESS TEEN DATING VIOLENCE (H 4450)

   House 121-32, Senate 37-2, overrode Gov. Baker’s veto of the entire $150,000 in funding for schools to address teen dating violence and promote healthy relationships. The measure requires that preference in awarding these funds be given to schools in which the majority of students are eligible for free or reduced lunches.
   (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                                     
REDUCE FUNDING FOR ONE-STOP CAREER CENTERS BY $262,400 (H 4450)

   House 129-23, Senate 38-1, overrode Gov. Baker’s veto of $262,400 (from $4,025,000 to $3,762,600) in funding for One-Stop Career Centers. 
   According to the state’s website the centers are designed to give “unemployed individuals access to a variety of job assistance services, including working with experienced career counselors, attending workshops and short-term training, develop your resume, write cover letters and more.”

 

   (A “Yes” vote is for spending the $262,400. A “No” vote is against it.)

 Rep. Christine Barber Yes Rep. Denise Provost Yes Rep. Timothy Toomey Yes Sen. Patricia Jehlen Yes                                     
REDUCE FUNDING FOR YOUTH VIOLENCE PREVENTION BY $60,000 (H 4450)

   House 123-34, Senate 36-3, overrode Gov. Baker’s veto of $60,000 (from $6,560,000 to 6,500,000) in funding for youth violence protection programs. The $60,000 is earmarked for programs in Springfield.
   (A “Yes” vote is for spending the $60,000. A “No” vote is against it.)

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

ALSO UP ON BEACON HILL

 

   STUDY OCEAN ACIDIFICATION (H 4593) – The House approved and sent to the Senate a bill creating a special commission to analyze existing scientific literature and data on ocean acidification. The study would focus on how it has affected or potentially will affect commercially harvested and grown species along the Massachusetts coast, and how to mitigate it. Ocean acidification occurs when carbon dioxide (CO2) is absorbed by seawater, reducing the amount of pH in the water.
   National Geographic Magazine explains, “Since the beginning of the industrial revolution in the early 1800s, fossil fuel-powered machines have driven an unprecedented burst of human industry and advancement. The unfortunate consequence, however, has been the emission of billions of tons of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses into Earth’s atmosphere.”
  The magazine notes that half of this man-made CO2 has been absorbed over time by the oceans. While this has benefited Earth by slowing the climate change these emissions would have caused if they had remained in the air, there is also a downside. Research is discovering that the massive amounts of CO2 are altering water chemistry and affecting the life cycles of many marine organisms.
   PREVENT ANIMAL SUFFERING AND DEATH (S 2369) – Gov. Baker signed into law a bill that would prohibit persons from leaving their pet in a car when high or low temperatures could endanger the animal’s health and safety. Violators would be hit with up to a $150 fine for a first offense, $300 for a second offense and $500 for any subsequent offense. 
   Another key provision allows law enforcement officers and everyday citizens, after making reasonable efforts to locate the motor vehicle’s owner, to enter a vehicle by any reasonable means to protect the health and safety of an animal. It also makes them immune from criminal or civil liability that might result from the removal.
   Other provisions prohibit leaving a dog outdoors during harsh weather conditions and prohibit a dog from being chained or tethered outside for more than five hours per day or between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. for more than 15 minutes. Violations under the tethering law include penalties of up to $500 or relinquishment of ownership of the dog.
   ALLOW TOWING FROM “PARK AND DRIVE” LOTS (S 2452) – The governor signed into law legislation that would allow operators of state-owned “Park and Drive” parking lots to tow any car that is left unattended in the lot for more than 21 days.
   Supporters said that drivers are taking advantage of these free-parking lots and taking up spaces to which commuters should have access. They noted some drivers fly out on vacation and leave their vehicle there for several days, weeks or even months.
   INCLUSIVE CONCURRENT ENROLLMENT (H 4561) – The House gave initial approval to a bill that provides grants to college-public high school partnerships to help students, ages 18-21 with intellectual disabilities enhance their academic career, future career and their lives in general by being included in a college community. The program is limited to students with severe intellectual disabilities, autism spectrum disorders or other developmental disabilities who have been unable to pass the MCAS test.
  Supporters said that students benefit academically and transition to adulthood more readily when they have the opportunity to engage in all college-related activities including making new friends, establishing new social networks, participating in campus events, learning to use public transportation and eventually getting a job. 
   QUOTABLE QUOTES
   “Most of us treat our pets like family members — some even better. However, for the poor animals that are neglectfully left in hot cars or tethered inappropriately, this new law is for them.”
   Rep. Lori Ehrlich (D-Marblehead) on her bill to protect animals from abuse including prohibiting persons from leaving their pet in a car when high or low temperatures could endanger the animal’s health and safety.

   “With this first experience with early voting in Massachusetts, it is important that voters have the option of casting their ballot on the weekend. I encourage cities and towns to take advantage of these grants to make it possible for their voters to do so.”
   Secretary of State Bill Galvin on a new municipal grant program to help fund any cities and towns that want to hold early voting hours on the last weekend in October.

   “The [All Electronic Tolling] AET system will improve driver convenience and safety and reduce greenhouse gas-causing vehicle emissions. When toll booths have been removed, AET will allow drivers to maintain regular highway speed as they pass under AET gantries, eliminating the need for drivers to sharply reduce speed and idle in toll booth lines.”
    Mass Highway Administrator Thomas Tinlin on plans to completely demolish Interstate 90 toll plazas by the end of 2017 as the state moves toward all AET along The Masspike, Tobin Bridge, and Boston tunnels.

   “The Tomato Contest is a great, fun tradition that helps strengthen consumers’ awareness of Massachusetts-grown produce … Massachusetts farmers are still growing high-quality produce, as shown by the outstanding tomatoes entered in today’s competition. I encourage all Massachusetts residents to support their local farmers by buying locally grown food products.”
    Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs Matthew Beaton on the state’s 31st Annual Tomato Contest.
   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 22-26, the House met for a total of 53 minutes while the Senate met for a total of 36 minutes.
Mon. August 22 House 11:02 a.m. to 11:35 a.m.

                   Senate 11:26 a.m. to 11:38 a.m.
Tues. August 23 No House session

                   No Senate session
Wed. August 24 No House session

                   No Senate session
Thurs. August 25 House 11:03 a.m. to 11:23 a.m.

                   Senate 11:01 a.m. to 11:25 a.m.
Fri. August 26 No House session

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

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