Beacon Hill Roll Call Volume 41 – Report No. 36 September 5-9, 2016

By Bob Katzen 

   THE SENATE: The Senate held 469 roll call votes in 2016. Beacon Hill Roll Call tabulates the number of roll calls on which each senator was present and voting and then calculates that number as a percentage of the total roll call votes held. That percentage is the number referred to as the roll call attendance record.
   Seventeen of the Senate’s 40 members have 100 percent roll call attendance records.
   The senator who missed the most roll calls is Sen. Kenneth Donnelly (D-Arlington) who missed 91 roll calls (80.6 percent attendance). 
   The other four senators who missed the most roll calls are Sens. Brian Joyce (D-Milton), 57 roll calls (87.8 percent attendance); Marc Pacheco (D-Taunton), 27 roll calls (94.2 percent attendance); Barbara L’Italien (D-Andover), 20 roll calls (95.7 percent attendance); and Daniel Wolf (D-Harwich), 19 roll calls (95.9 percent attendance).
   Beacon Hill Roll Call requested a statement from those five senators. Here are the responses from their offices:
   Sen. Donnelly’s office: “Sen. Donnelly was unable to be present at the formal session on Sunday, July 31, 2016 due to a medical issue.”
   Sen. Joyce’s office: “Sen. Joyce rarely missed votes in 18 years but had absences this year for medical reasons and for the death of a family member.”
   Sen. Pacheco’s office: Did not respond.
   Sen. L’Italien’s office: “The vast majority of the votes missed were during two occasions, when Sen. L’Italien was attending a funeral out of state for a family member, and while she was attending a ‘women in government conference’ with colleagues.”
   Sen. Wolf’s office: “Sen. Wolf was invited to speak at the Brookings Institution on the impact of money in the political process. This longstanding invite and commitment conflicted with a formal session, explaining the majority of missed roll call votes.”

   The percentage listed next to the senator’s name is the percentage of roll call votes for which the senator was present and voting. The number in parentheses represents the number of roll calls that the senator missed. 
   Two senators’ numbers are based on only 382 roll calls, fewer than the total 469 roll calls upon which the other 38 senators’ numbers are based. Sens. Joseph Boncore (D-Winthrop) and Patrick O’Connor (R-Weymouth) both won special elections and did not enter the Senate until May 18, 2016.

 Sen. Patricia Jehlen 98.9 percent (5)                        

  TELL VICTIMS RAPE KITS ARE KEPT FOR 15 YEARS (H 4364) – The House and Senate have approved different versions of a bill that would require all rape kits be kept for a minimum of 15 years. The measure also requires that rape victims be notified immediately that the kit will be kept for that length of time. 
   Current law also allows the kits to be kept for 15 years but initially only requires they be kept for six months unless the victim files a request for an extension. The Senate version now goes to the House for consideration.
  EDUCATION BILLS SHIPPED OFF TO THE GRAVEYARD – The Education Committee shipped dozens of bills off to a study committee. Most measures that are shipped off to a study committee are never actually studied and are essentially defeated.
   Last week’s batch included several bills that attempted to require high schools to teach specific courses to their students including civics (H 346), the history of working people and the labor movement (H 373) and acts of genocide around the world including the Holocaust, the Famine-Genocide in Ukraine, the Armenian Genocide, the Pontian Greek Genocide and more recent atrocities in Cambodia, Bosnia, Rwanda and Sudan (H 473).
   Another measure requires students to complete a course in civics in order to receive their high school diploma. The course would educate students in the composition and functioning of local, state, and federal government, responsibilities and duties as an American citizen, opportunities for voter participation and exposure to current events and identification of government officials.
   TEACH DOCS ABOUT EATING DISORDERS (H 201) – The Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure Committee sent off to a study committee a bill that would require all doctors and physician assistants to complete a one-hour online course on the early recognition of eating disorders. The proposal also prohibits a hospital from granting or renewing professional privileges or association to a physician or physician assistant who has not completed the training.
 Another bill sent to a study committee would establish a “second chance” lottery to help address the problem of lottery ticket litter.
   The same fate met a proposal that would require car dealers to inform car buyers, in writing, that federal law makes it illegal for motor vehicle manufacturers or dealers to void or deny coverage under a motor vehicle warranty solely because an aftermarket part was installed or someone other than the dealer performed service on the vehicle.
   FARM TO SCHOOL MONTH (H 2782) – The House and Senate approved a bill that would designate the month of October as Massachusetts Farm-to-School Month in recognition of the vital role agriculture plays in the state’s culture, heritage and economy. 
   The measure also commends the farm-to-school programs which make it easier for local farmers to supply schools with healthy, locally grown food. The proposal needs final approval in each branch before it goes to the governor’s desk.
   GET INFO ABOUT MASSACHUSETTS COLLEGES – Last week saw the launch of the new, full-service web portal that will allow Bay State students and their families to explore a wide range of academic offerings at the state’s public colleges and universities. The site will allow the state’s high school and college students to identify and compare a wide range of degree programs, transfer option and college costs at all 28 public undergraduate colleges. The site is at 
   BAKER ADMINISTRATION LAUNCHES DROUGHT EMERGENCY LOAN FUND – The Baker administration announced the launch of the Massachusetts Drought Emergency Loan Fund which will provide up to $1 million in loans to family farms and other small businesses affected by widespread drought in Massachusetts. The loans range from $5,000 to $10,000. More information and applications are at
QUOTABLE QUOTES – By the Numbers Edition
   3.9 percent
  The amount health care costs rose in the state in 2015 according to a new report by the Center for Health Information and Analysis. 

   $136 million
   The amount of revenue the state recovered in unpaid taxes from more than 9,000 people through the Department of Revenue’s 60-day tax amnesty program.

   $1.6 million
   The amount of money the state will use for grants to 217 municipalities and regional solid waste districts to help maximize their recycling, composting and waste reduction programs.
   1H, 7J, 41Z, Q49, X77, 1972, and 2007.
   Some of the much-desired low number auto license plates that were given out in a random lottery last week.

   The number of municipally-owned bridges eligible for some of the $50 million the state is using to fund these repairs.
   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 September 5-9, the House met for a total 47 minutes while the Senate met for a total of 26 minutes.
Mon. Sept. 5 No House session

                    No Senate session
Tues. Sept. 6 House 11:03 a.m. to 11:35 a.m.

                    Senate 11:03 a.m. to 11:11 a.m.
Wed. Sept. 7 No House session

                    No Senate session
Thurs. Sept. 8 House 11:05 a.m. to 11:20 a.m.

                    Senate 11:15 a.m. to 11:33 a.m.
Fri. Sept. 9 No House session

                    No Senate session
Bob Katzen welcomes feedback at

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