By Bob Katzen
THE HOUSE AND HOUSE: 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 representative sided with Gov. Charlie Baker on his 211 vetoes of items in the 2016 session.
A two-thirds vote is required to override a gubernatorial veto. The number of legislators in the House during 2016 fluctuated based on the number of resignations and special elections. In a full 160-member House, there were 126 Democrats and 34 Republicans. The governor needed the support of 54 representatives to sustain a veto when all 160 representatives voted — and fewer votes if some members were absent or a seat was vacant.
Baker only accomplished that once when a veto was sustained on a 95-59 vote. The House, however, quickly reconsidered that vote and overrode the veto on a 105-49 vote when several legislators changed their minds. The House easily overrode all 211 vetoes, including seven that were overridden unanimously.
It was mostly the 34 GOP members who voted with the Republican governor to sustain the vetoes. The number of times each GOP member supported Baker ranged from a low of 116 times by Rep. Kate Campanale (R-Leicester) to a high of 203 times by Reps. James Lyons (R-Andover) and Marc Lombardo (R-Billerica).
The vetoes had little support among the 126 Democrats. The number of times each Democratic member supported Baker ranged from a low of zero times by 96 representatives to a high of 10 times by Rep. Paul Heroux (D-Attleboro).
PERCENTAGE OF TIMES REPRESENTATIVES SUPPORTED THE GOVERNOR IN 2016
Here is how your representative fared in his or her support of Baker on the 211 vetoes. The percentage next to the representative’s name represents the percentage of times the representative supported Baker. The number in parentheses represents the actual number of times the representative supported Baker.
Rep. Christine Barber 0 percent (0) Rep. Denise Provost 1.4 percent (3) Rep. Timothy Toomey 0.9 percent (2)
ALSO UP ON BEACON HILL
REQUIRE DEFIBRILLATORS IN SCHOOLS (H 4719) – The House approved a bill requiring automatic external defibrillators (AED) in all public schools. The measure also mandates that each school have on duty a person who has completed a course on CPR and the use of an AED. Another provision protects the operator of the AED from liability other than gross negligence or willful or wanton misconduct when using it on a patient. The bill would take effect in January 2018. Similar bills have been proposed in the Legislature in the past but none of them ever received final approval from both branches.
Supporters said this common-sense requirement will save lives and argued this type of legislation should have become law years ago.
The Senate has approved a different version of the proposal and the House version now goes to the Senate for consideration.
DUCK BOAT TOURS (S 2473) – The House gave initial approval to a Senate-approved measure that would prohibit a driver of any amphibious sightseeing vehicle, commonly known as Duck Boats, from providing commentary about the tour while driving. Companies would have to add a second worker to narrate the tour. The proposal would also require the vehicle to be equipped with safety equipment including blind spot cameras and proximity sensors. Violators would be fined up to $500 for the first offense and $1,000 for any subsequent offenses.
The bill was filed in June in response to the tragic death in April in which a Duck Boat struck and killed Allison Warmuth. The vehicle ran over Allison’s moped near her Beacon Hill residence, killing the graduate of Messiah College, a Christian school in Pennsylvania, who was a senior underwriter for hospitals and medical practices.
ELECTRIC VEHICLES (S 2502) – The Senate approved and sent to the House legislation that regulates and encourages the use of zero-emission vehicles. The measure prohibits owners of public electric vehicle charging stations from requiring a person to pay for a membership to use the stations but allows the stations to charge different prices for members and non-members. It also allows municipalities to designate parking spaces for use only by zero-emission vehicles and to fine and tow vehicles that violate that rule.
Other provisions require the state to establish regulations for electric vehicle charging for residential and commercial buildings; issue a feasibility study on allowing zero emission vehicles to travel in lanes designated for high-occupancy vehicles; conduct a study examining the advisability and feasibility of assessing taxes, surcharges, levies or other assessments to offset projected gas tax revenue loss from the increasing purchase or operation of zero-emission vehicles; and that 25 percent of motor vehicles purchased annually by the state be zero-emission vehicles by 2025.
Supporters said it is past time to regulate these vehicles and offer incentives for drivers to use them. They said this can help reduce U.S. reliance on imported oil, increase energy security and help save the environment.
YELLOW DOT PROGRAM (H 4722) – The House gave initial approval to a bill that would require the state’s secretary of transportation to establish rules and regulations for and to implement and promote a Yellow Dot Program to assist first responders at the scene of a car accident.
The voluntary program, currently implemented in many states, would allow individuals of all ages to affix a decal with a yellow dot to the rear window on the driver’s side of the motor vehicle. The dot would alert first responders to look in the glove compartment and locate a yellow dot folder compiled by the participant which would include his or her medical information including emergency contact information, physicians’ contact information, medications, medical conditions, recent surgeries, allergies and more.
Supporters said the program would help save lives by ensuring that first responders have a list of the victim’s health records including all prescription drugs that he or she uses. They said that accident victims are often injured or unconscious and unable to communicate information verbally to a first responder.
QUOTABLE QUOTES – Special “By the Numbers” Marijuana Edition
Last week Massachusetts became the first eastern state to legalize the sale and use of recreational marijuana. Voters approved the legalization on a ballot question by a margin of 53.6 percent to 46.4 percent.
The legal age for possession of recreational marijuana.
The number of ounces of marijuana adults over 21 can possess outside of their home.
The number of ounces of marijuana adults over 21 can possess in their home.
The number of marijuana plants adults can have in their homes
The number of ounces of marijuana adults can give another adult over 21 without payment.
The percentage of the new state tax that will be imposed on the sale of marijuana.
The percentage of a new local sales tax that cities and towns will be allowed to impose on marijuana sales in their communities.
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 November 7-November 11, the House met for a total of 48 minutes while the Senate met for a total of 31 minutes.
Mon. November 7 House 11:02 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
Senate 11:05 a.m. to 11:24 a.m.
Tues. November 8 No House session
No Senate session
Wed. November 9 No House session
No Senate session
Thurs. November 10 House 11:01 a.m. to 11:21 a.m.
Senate 11:03 a.m. to 1l:15 a.m.
Fri. November 11 No House session
No Senate session
Bob Katzen welcomes feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org