By Bob Katzen
THE HOUSE AND SENATE. There were no roll call votes in the House or Senate last week. This week, Beacon Hill Roll Call reports local representatives’ roll call attendance records for the 2016 session through September 30.
The House has held 380 roll call votes in 2016. We tabulate the number of roll calls on which each representative was present and voting and then calculate 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.
Several quorum roll calls, used to gather a majority of members onto the House floor to conduct business, are also included in the 380 roll calls. On quorum roll calls, members simply vote “present” in order to indicate their presence in the chamber. When a representative does not indicate his or her presence on a quorum roll call, we count that as a roll call absence just like any other roll call absence.
Only 44 (27.5 percent) of the House’s 160 members have 100 percent roll call attendance records.
The representative who missed the most roll calls is Rep. Gloria Fox (D-Boston) who missed 209 (45.0 percent attendance) because she was hospitalized for an illness.
Also included in the top five worst records are Reps. John Fernandez (D-Milford) who missed 120 (68.4 percent attendance); Stephen Kulik (D-Worthington) who missed 109 (71.3 percent attendance record); Patricia Farley-Bouvier (D-Pittsfield) who missed 107 (71.8 percent attendance); and William “Smitty” Pignatelli (D-Lenox) and Steven Ultrino (D-Malden) who both missed 106 (72.1 percent attendance).
Beacon Hill Roll Call requested a statement from those five representatives. Here are their responses:
Rep. Fox: “I was ill a few times during 2016. That was the reason for missed roll calls. I was hospitalized and I had medical appointments that conflicted with my schedule.”
Rep. Fernandez: “Almost all of those roll calls occurred on the two Saturdays when overrides were being taken up and I could not attend parts of the sessions because of family wedding commitments scheduled long before the dates of the sessions were set.”
Rep. Kulik: “I did not attend the special Saturday House session held on July 23, 2016, due to a previously scheduled family commitment. At that session 104 roll call votes were taken, 102 of which were overrides of budget vetoes by the governor, and two were routine enactments. Therefore, this one session that I was unable to attend accounted for 104 of the 109 roll call votes (out of 380) that I missed in the 2015-2016 session.”
Rep. Farley-Bouvier: “I hate to miss votes and take my voting record very seriously. In this case you will note that I missed one day of voting, a rare Saturday session, July 26, when I was out of state for a family wedding. Family is one of the few things I take even more seriously than my voting record.”
Rep. Pignatelli: “Every one of those missed calls happened on the Saturday that I moved my daughter to California to start her new job. I, no pun intended, rolled the dice that we would not have a formal session that weekend coming on the heels of the Democratic and Republican National Conventions. I was wrong but have no regrets in missing votes to be with her.”
Rep. Ultrino: “I was out of state for a personal family matter. Unfortunately, the day I missed happened to have a large number of roll call votes. Excluding this one absence, I’ve had a near-perfect voting record for the session, missing only one vote of the remaining 276 roll calls since January 2016.”
REPRESENTATIVES’ 2016 ROLL CALL ATTENDANCE RECORDS
The percentage listed next to the representative’s name below is the percentage of roll call votes for which he or she was present and voting. The number in parentheses represents the number of roll calls that he or she missed.
Rep. Christine Barber 98.7 percent (5) Rep. Denise Provost 96.1 percent (15) Rep. Timothy Toomey 99.7 percent (1)
ALSO UP ON BEACON HILL
RENAME BROOKLINE AVENUE BRIDGE IN HONOR OF DAVID ORTIZ – The House and Senate have approved and sent to Gov. Charlie Baker a bill that includes renaming the Brookline Avenue Bridge, between Lansdowne Street and Newbury Street, and spanning the Massachusetts Turnpike, the “David Ortiz ‘Big Papi’ Bridge.”
The renaming is in honor and recognition of “his athletic accomplishments during 14 seasons as a member of the Boston Red Sox, and his personal contributions to the commonwealth. Notably, his charitable commitment to children in New England and the Dominican Republic who do not have access to the critical pediatric services they need, and in helping the city of Boston heal in the face of the Boston Marathon bombing tragedy.”
MORE BILLS SENT TO STUDY COMMITTEES – The Legislature sent several bills off to be “studied.” Most measures that are shipped off to a study committee are never actually studied and are essentially defeated.
SEVERAL TAX-RELATED REVENUE COMMITTEE BILLS SENT TO STUDY – The Revenue Committee sent several bills to a study committee including providing a tax credit of up to $20,000 for taxpayers who purchase a new vehicle, that is primarily fueled by an alternative fuel including electricity, liquid petroleum gas, natural gas, or hydrogen fuel (H 2435); exempting seniors 75 or older from the portion of their local property taxes that is devoted to local education (H 2437); allowing an income tax credit of up to $600 for a taxpayer who is caring for elderly relatives over 70 or victims of Alzheimer’s disease at home (H 2441); and allowing self-employed taxpayers to deduct their health insurance premiums on their state taxes (H 2444).
REGULATE KENNELS AND DOGGY DAY CARE (H 630) – The Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture Committee sent to a study committee a bill that would require the state to establish rules and regulations for boarding kennels and daycare facilities for dogs, including home-based facilities. The measure would create minimum state standards for these two industries.
Under the bill, the Department of Agricultural Resources would establish regulations establishing qualifications of personnel, the ratio of providers to dog, group sizes, minimum housing and care requirements, indoor and outdoor physical facility requirements, dog handling, body language, interpretation, breed familiarity, emergency response training and insurance.
Supporters say this bill is designed to stop incidents of animals dying or being injured while in the care of kennels and day care.
SENIORS AT HOME WITH TECHNOLOGY (H 126) – The Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities sent to a study committee a bill that would require the use of technology to allow seniors and people with physical, developmental or emotional disabilities to live at home with the help of technology designed to maximize their independence. The Executive Office of Health and Human Services would draw up regulations to implement this measure.
Technology that helps seniors live at home includes computers, home security systems, personal emergency response systems like Lifeline, health tracking gadgets, home monitoring systems and smart medication pillboxes that offer audible or visual cues for seniors to remind them to take their pills at the proper time.
HOSPITALS MUST HOLD AN ANNUAL PUBLIC MEETING (H 1904) – The Public Health Committee sent to a study committee a proposal that would require all hospitals to hold an annual public meeting to give the public an opportunity to discuss issues and to ask questions about the operation of the hospitals.
“David has not only been an extraordinary baseball player, he has been an exemplary and inspirational member of our community, most notably after the Boston Marathon bombings. As a fan, I will miss his stride up to the plate followed by a clutch hit and the ballpark exploding into applause.”
House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo (D-Winthrop) on the Legislature’s approval of a measure renaming the Brookline Avenue Bridge, the “David Ortiz (‘Big Papi’ Bridge.”
“Parents have been particularly alarmed to learn about this law, signed in early July, which would allow men to use the women’s bathroom, locker room, shower or changing facility if they identify as female. There have already been incidents reported here in Massachusetts where women’s privacy and safety in public accommodations were violated.”
From a press release by Keep MA safe, the group that says it has collected sufficient signatures to put on the 2018 ballot a proposal to repeal the transgender public accommodations law recently signed into law.
“Proposing to repeal anti-discrimination protections for transgender individuals is a big step backward in a state that prides itself on civility and respect for all. We are a caring, compassionate, and open-minded people. When it appears before the voters in 2018 we should stick with our values, stand by our neighbors, and resoundingly defeat this ill-considered proposal to advance bigotry and hatred.”
Senate President Stan Rosenberg.
“From combined heat and power to electric vehicles and energy storage, our administration is committed to embracing innovative technologies and policies that will continue to allow us to build a resilient, clean and affordable energy future.”
Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito on the news that the Bay State has been named the most energy efficient state in the nation by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy for the sixth consecutive year.
“I think I’m going to run here in Massachusetts in two years. I think I’m going to run against [Sen.] Elizabeth Warren … [But] If Gov. Baker ends up running for the White House here, which is a possibility, I might run for governor.”
Former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling.
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 26-30, the House met for a total of five hours and 37 minutes while the Senate met for a total of five hours and 42 minutes.
Mon. Sept. 26 House 11:04 a.m. to 11:13 a.m.
Senate 11:01 a.m. to 11:12 a.m.
Tues. Sept. 27 No House session
No Senate session
Wed. Sept. 28 No House session
No Senate session
Thurs. Sept. 29 House 11:05 a.m. to 4:33 p.m.
Senate 11:05 a.m. to 4:36 p.m.
Fri. Sept. 30 No House session
No Senate session
Bob Katzen welcomes feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org