Beacon Hill Roll Call Volume 41-Report No. 35 August 29 – September 2, 2016

By Bob Katzen 

   THE HOUSE AND SENATE: Beacon Hill Roll Call records local senators’ and representatives’ votes on roll calls 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.
   Baker, citing what he predicts is a projected shortfall of $650 million to $950 million in the fiscal 2017 budget, said the vetoes are necessary to help close that gap. 
    Democratic legislative leaders disagree with Baker and say that his cuts would have reduced funding for many important programs and hurt the disabled, minorities, women, seniors and children.

   House 127-27, Senate 36-3, overrode Gov. Baker’s veto of $2,900,000 (from $109,353,183 106,453,183) in funding for facilities for people with intellectual disabilities.
   Baker said that he reduced the funding to an amount projected to be necessary.   
    (A “Yes” vote is for spending the $2,900,000. A “No” vote is against it.)

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

   House 131-22, Senate 36-3, overrode Gov. Baker’s veto of the entire $500,000 in funding for Family Resource Centers across the state. According to its website, Family Resource Centers are a “statewide network of community-based providers offering multi-cultural parenting programs, support groups, early childhood services, information and referral resources and education for families whose children range in age from birth to 18 years of age.”
  Baker said that he vetoed this item because it is not consistent with his original budget recommendation.
   (A “Yes” vote is for spending the $500,000 A “No” vote is against it.)

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

   House 152-0, Senate 39-0, overrode Gov. Baker’s veto of the entire $150,000 for the Down Syndrome Program at the Children’s Medical Center at the University of Massachusetts Memorial Medical Center in Worcester. According to its website, the program is a “dedicated multidisciplinary center for infants, children and adolescents with Down syndrome.”
   Baker said that he reduced the funding to an amount projected to be necessary.   
   (A “Yes” vote is for spending the $150,000 A “No” vote is against it.)

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

   House 132-22, Senate 33-6, overrode Gov. Baker’s $2 million veto reduction (from $5 million to $3 million) in funding for Tufts Veterinary School in North Grafton. 
   Baker said that he reduced the funding to an amount projected to be necessary. Some supporters of the veto questioned whether the state should be providing millions of dollars to a private university.
   (A “Yes” vote is for spending the $2 million. A “No” vote is against it.)

 Rep. Christine Barber Yes Rep. Denise Provost No Rep. Timothy Toomey Yes Sen. Patricia Jehlen Yes                                     

   BAN SMOKING IN CARS WITH CHILDREN (H 1976) – The House gave initial approval to a bill that would prohibit smoking in any motor vehicle in which there is a child who is required to be in a child passenger restraint. Under Massachusetts law, children must use a restraint until they are at least eight years old or at least 57 inches tall. The measure imposes a $100 fine on drivers who violate the ban.


   The proposal prohibits a police officer from searching a motor vehicle, its contents, the driver or a passenger solely because of a violation of this law. It also prohibits the violation from being used as evidence of contributory negligence by the driver in any civil action and requires officers, for 90 days after the law is in effect, to give only a warning and not a citation to a driver who violates this law.
   Supporters said that second-hand smoke causes respiratory problems, ear infections and mental health disorders including depression. They noted it can also make a child’s asthma worse. 
   NO AUTOMATIC INCOME TAX AND LONG-TERM CAPITAL GAINS CUT IN 2017 – The State Department of Revenue announced that there is insufficient economic growth under the terms of a 2002 law that determines whether there will be a tax cut in January of each year. This is unlike last year when there was sufficient growth that led to a reduction in the income tax rate and long-term capital gains tax from 5.15 percent to 5.10 percent effective January 1, 2016. 
   The tax cuts do not need the approval of the Legislature. They are part of a system devised by the Legislature when it approved a $1 billion-plus tax hike package in 2002. The package set the long-term capital gains tax at 5.3 percent and froze the income tax rate at 5.3 percent instead of allowing it to drop to 5 percent in January 2003 — a reduction that was approved by voters in 2000. The 2002 law also includes an automatic trigger that reduces both taxes by one-half of one percent each year that the state’s economic growth is at least 2.5 percent until each tax is reduced to five percent. This year’s economic growth was only .975 percent over last year, not even close to the 2.5 percent growth required.
   PROPERTY TAX REDUCTION FOR INSTALLING A FIRE PROTECTION SPRINKLER SYSTEM (H 4523) – A hearing was recently held on a late-filed bill that would provide a property tax reduction to an owner of a two-family or multifamily residence who pays for the installation of a fire protection sprinkler system. The one-time credit would be equal to 30 percent of the price of installation. The proposal is a local option one which would only apply to cities and towns that vote to opt into the measure.
  Supporters said this would encourage these owners to install these systems which can prevent injuries and even save lives.
   COURTHOUSE NAMED FOR FORMER SENATE PRESIDENT THERESE MURRAY (S 2420) – The House and Senate approved and sent to Gov. Baker a bill naming the Plymouth Trial Court after former Senate President Therese Murray for “her service as president of the senate and her tireless advocacy on behalf of the people of Plymouth county.” Murray, the first woman senate president, served in the Senate from 1993 to 2015 and was the senate president from 2007 to 2015.
   “A $15 minimum [wage] by 2021 would increase the incomes of 22 percent of working parents and 31 percent of all children in the state would benefit.”
   Noah Berger, president of Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center, on its new report extolling the minimum wage

   “The launch of CTHRU is a major step forward in meeting our mission to promote accountability, integrity, and clarity in Commonwealth business, fiscal and administrative enterprises. We have also accepted Gov. Baker’s challenge that government leaders think outside the box and adopt cloud-based technologies that enhance public accountability and strengthen the public’s trust.” 
  Massachusetts Comptroller Tom Shack on the upcoming September 14 launching of CTHRU, the new open records platform for taxpayers to monitor the state’s spending and payroll.

   “This is an important milestone in the state’s march towards full equality and justice for all citizens … The guidelines are clear, fair, and protect the safety of all people in Massachusetts. Finally, transgender people have safe and secure access to all public accommodations in the state.”
   MassEquality’s Executive Director, Deborah Shields, on the release of the formal guidelines for enforcement of the transgender protection law.

   “Fundamentally, this is about protecting privacy and safety, particularly of women and children. These guidelines do nothing to alleviate that.”
 Andrew Beckwith of Keep MA Safe, a committee working to repeal the new transgender law.

  “The value of these relationships are much bigger than any one person.”
  Gov. Baker, at a meeting of four New England governors and five eastern Canadian premiers, when asked about what a Donald Trump victory would do to the relationship between the United States and Canada. 
   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 29-September 2, the House met for a total of 40 minutes while the Senate met for a total of 47 minutes.
Mon. Aug. 29 House 11:00 a.m. to 11:05 a.m.

                  Senate 11:12 a.m. to 11:18 a.m.
Tues. Aug. 30 No House session

                  No Senate session
Wed. Aug. 31 No House session

                  No Senate session
Thurs. Sept. 1 House 11:03 a.m. to 11:38 a.m.

                  Senate 11:09 a.m. to 11:40 a.m.
Fri. Sept.2 No House session

                  No Senate session
Bob Katzen welcomes feedback at

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