By Bob Katzen
THE HOUSE AND SENATE: There were no roll calls in the House and Senate last week. This week, Beacon Hill Roll Call reports on the number of times each senator sided with Gov. Charlie Baker on his 207 vetoes of items in the 2016 session.
A two-thirds vote is required to override a gubernatorial veto in the 40-member Senate that includes 34 Democrats and only six Republicans. The governor needed the support of 15 senators to sustain a veto when all 40 senators voted — and fewer votes if some members were absent. Baker fell short of that goal as 13 votes was the most support he received on any veto. The Senate easily overrode all 207 vetoes, including 27 that were overridden unanimously.
The vetoes had little support among Democrats in the Senate. Only 20 of the chamber’s 34 Democrats voted with Baker to sustain any vetoes while the other 14 did not support the governor even once. The Democratic senator who supported Baker the most times was Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz (D-Boston), who supported him 83 times. Sens. Kathleen O’Connor-Ives (D-Newburyport) supported the governor 45 times, Mark Montigny (D-New Bedford), 10 times; and Benjamin Downing (D- Pittsfield), seven times. All the other Democratic senators supported the governor only on one, two or three vetoes.
The GOP senator who voted with Baker the most times was Sen. Ryan Fattman (R-Webster), who supported the governor 120 times.
Other Republican senators and how many times they supported Baker include Sens. Vinny deMacedo (R-Plymouth), 111 times; Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester), 88 times; Donald Humason (R-Westfield), 76 times; and Patrick O’Connor (R-Weymouth), 29 times.
PERCENTAGE OF TIMES LOCAL SENATORS SUPPORTED THE GOVERNOR IN 2016
Here is how your senator fared in his or her support of Baker on the 207 vetoes. The percentage next to the senator’s name represents the percentage of times the senator supported Baker. The number in parentheses represents the actual number of times the senator supported Baker.
Sen. Patricia Jehlen 0.48 percent (1)
ALSO UP ON BEACON HILL
NEWSPAPERS MUST PUBLISH PUBLIC NOTICES ONLINE (H 1566) – A new law, effective in January 2017, will require 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 — http://www.masspublicnotices.org –created and operated by the Massachusetts Newspaper Publishers Association.
Supporters say that readership of print copies of newspapers is way down and public notices in these print versions of papers are not seen by most people.
EQUITY IN PUBLIC CONTRACTS (S 2503) – The Senate approved and sent to the House legislation that would give greater access to state-funded projects for minority and women business owners and workers.
The proposal would require the state to award contracts to vendors based on the diverse racial, ethnic and gender makeup of the state’s population. The measure also requires the state, when deliberating upon the responsibility of a bidder, to take into consideration a bidder’s compliance with commitments made in previous bids about the employment of minorities and women.
Supporters said that all residents, including women and minorities, should share in being awarded these contracts.
ALLOW CITIES AND TOWNS TO SIGN AN AGREEMENT WITH EMPLOYEES (H 1832) – The Senate gave initial approval to a House-approved bill that would authorize a city or town to sign an agreement with its assessor, treasurer and collector. The agreement would include the salary, fringe benefits and other conditions of employment. Current law only allows cities and towns to sign an agreement for the town manager, town administrator, executive secretary, administrative assistant to the board of selectmen, town accountant, city auditor and city manager.
Supporters said the bill simply adds these three new positions to an already existing law. They argued these is no reason to treat these three positions differently.
NEW SHOPPING WEBSITE FOR ELECTRIC SUPPLY PRODUCTS – The Baker Administration announced the launch of Energy Switch Massachusetts, an interactive website that will provide product information to residential and small business electricity consumers who seek to purchase their electric supply from the competitive market.
Electric service provided to residential and business customers in the Bay State is composed of two parts. The first is supply service, which is the electricity commodity that a customer uses to power his or her homes and businesses. The second is delivery service, which is the transport of electricity from the source of its generation to the homes and businesses.
“Transparency in the marketplace helps consumers make better choices,” said Rep. Paul Brodeur (D-Melrose). “This new interface empowers ratepayers to make more informed purchases of energy. I’m glad that consumers will be able to consult this resource and quickly compare the merits and prices of different electricity suppliers.”
The website can be accessed at http://www.energyswitchma.gov/
“I have been recently told that the governor went on record as saying that … Charlemont is his favorite community in all of Massachusetts. That was bold governor because even I haven’t gone that far.”
Sen. Ben Downing (D-Pittsfield) whose legislative district includes Charlemont.
“There are 351 cities and towns in Massachusetts and they are all my favorite — every single one of them. And I said to the senator, who I love, he’s a good man … ‘Where did you hear me say that?’ And he said that he heard from somebody else who heard from somebody else that I said that.”
Gov. Baker replying to Downing’s comments.
“You do the math. I’m calling on a need for loving homes.”
Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders urging more adults to apply to become foster parents and noting that there are 6,100 children in foster care and only 4,800 foster families.
“I continue to occasionally have [fundraising] events, and you never know what you’re going to have in terms of opposition, so it’s always good to be prepared, and to continue to make sure that there’s adequate resources.”
House Ways and Means Chairman Rep. Brian Dempsey (D-Haverhill) telling the State House News Service why he has some $550,000 in his campaign account while he has not had an opponent in many years.
“He needs $550,000 for a campaign war chest? What war does he intend to fund? World War III?”
Chip Faulkner, Director of Communications of Citizens for Limited Taxation (CLT).
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 October 31-November 4, the House met for a total of 44 minutes while the Senate met for a total of one hour and two minutes.
Mon. October 31 House 11:03 a.m. to 11:07 a.m.
Senate 11:06 a.m. to 11:11 a.m.
Tues. November 1 No House session
No Senate session
Wed. November 2 No House session
No Senate session
Thurs. November 3 House 11:01 a.m. to 11:41 a.m.
Senate 11:15 a.m. to 12:12 p.m.
Fri. November 6 No House session
No Senate session
Bob Katzen welcomes feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org