Beacon Hill Roll Call Volume 42 -Report No. 27 July 3-7, 2017

By Bob Katzen
   THE HOUSE AND SENATE. Beacon Hill Roll Call records local legislators’ votes on roll calls from the week of July 3-7.

   House 140-9, Senate 36-2, approved and sent to Gov. Charlie Baker a conference committee’s compromise version of a $40.2 billion fiscal 2018 state budget to cover state spending from July 1, 2017 to June 30, 2018. .
   Baker has ten days to sign the budget and to veto sections of it. It would then take a two-thirds vote of the House and Senate to override any vetoes. The conference committee version was hammered out after the House and Senate each approved different budgets.
  The 6-member conference committee reduced expected state revenues by $733 million and made millions in budget “fixes” including $400 million in direct cuts from the proposed spending approved by legislators in the original House and Senate version of the budget. Those actions were in response to warnings about ever-decreasing revenue projections over the past several weeks.
   Supporters said the budget is a balanced one that makes important investments in the state while continuing fiscal responsibility and not raising taxes. They noted a shortage of revenue will result in some pain in some services and programs but that the budget protects the state’s most vulnerable citizens.


   Opponents voted against the budget for various reasons: Legislators have only had a few hours to read the budget and the vote should be postponed for several days; the budget does not make sufficient cuts; the budget makes too many cuts and does not sufficiently fund many worthwhile programs and services; state spending has grown too much over the past few years; and billions of dollars of taxpayer money is going to government services for illegal immigrants.
   (A “Yes” vote is for the budget. A “No” vote is against it.)

 Rep. Christine Barber Yes Rep. Mike Connolly Yes Rep. Denise Provost Yes Sen. Patricia Jehlen Yes                                     

   Prior to voting on the budget, the House 115-34, Senate 32-6, suspended rules to allow immediate consideration of the $40.2 billion fiscal 2018 state budget. 
  Rule suspension supporters said it is important for the Legislature to approve this budget quickly and noted the state is currently operating on a temporary budget.
   Rule suspension opponents said members have had very little time to read the budget and argued it is unfair and irresponsible to rush a $40.2 billion package through the House late on a Friday afternoon.
   (A “Yea” vote is for rule suspension. A “Nay” vote is against rule suspension).

 Rep. Christine Barber Yes Rep. Mike Connolly Yes Rep. Denise Provost Yes Sen. Patricia Jehlen Yes                                     

  LOTS OF BILLS TO BE AIRED BY JUDICIARY COMMITTEE ON JULY 18 – A major hearing by the Judiciary Committee on more than 90 bills will be held on July 18 at 1 p.m. in Room A-1 at the Statehouse. Among the proposals on the agenda are:
  HONOR OATHS OR BE PROSECUTED (S 772) – Requires the prosecution of any public employee who has violated his or her oath of office, including the state’s 200 legislators, the governor and other constitutional officers. The measure provides for automatic job suspension of the offender. 
   Another provision provides for prosecution of any person who induces or encourages any public employee to violate his or her oath. The bill is not sponsored by any legislator and was filed by private citizen Mark Thomas of Boston.
  PROFIT FROM CRIMINAL ACT (S 797)- Restricts the ability of convicted criminals to profit from their notoriety. The measure provides that any profits from the criminals’ books, movie rights and similar profit endeavors be given to the victim as restitution.
   HEROIN PRESENCE (S 842) – Repeals a current law that imposes a minimum 1-year prison sentence and/or up to a $1,000 fine on a person who is “knowingly present at a place where heroin is kept or deposited.”
   SHOOTING AT A HOUSE OR SCHOOL (H 3070) Imposes up to a 5-year prison sentence on anyone who hits any dwelling, public park, daycare facility, public school or college with a firearm. The measure is designed to punish the shooter for this violent act even when no one is hurt or killed in the shooting. Currently there are no penalties for this offense.
  REPEAL ARCHAIC LAWS (H 950) – Abolishes some archaic laws that are still on the books in Massachusetts. These laws include requiring that portions of the Bible be read in public schools; declaring that the Communist Party is a subversive organization and prohibiting adultery, anal sex, blasphemy and vagabonds.
   COMPANION ANIMALS (H 2290) – Refers to pets as “companion animals” and requires people to protect the health and safety of these animals including dogs, cats, birds, rabbits, hamsters and ferrets. It prohibits companion animals from being left outside during extreme heat, cold, wind, rain or hail or any weather condition which poses a risk to their health and safety.
   An offender is subject to a 2.5-year prison sentence for each incident of animal abuse. A first offense includes a $2,500 fine and loss of the right to obtain another animal. A second offense includes a $5,000 fine and placement of the offender’s name on A “Do Not Adopt To” list that will be made public and provided to all shelters, rescues, animal controls offices and pet stores. A third offense includes a $10,000 fine and their name on a “Do Not Adopt To” list.
   PROHIBIT DISCRIMINATION IN STATE CONTRACTS (S 1689) – Requires anyone who submits a bid or proposal of more than $10,000 to do work for state government to say that their company is in full compliance with the state’s anti-discrimination laws.
   The person must also state that the company does not currently, and will not during the duration of the contract, refuse to do business with any other person based upon the person’s race, color, creed, religion, sex, national origin, gender identity or sexual orientation.

   “At a time when the NRA [National Rifle Association] is working to make our country and the commonwealth less safe, it’s absurd that Charlie Baker would reward the leader of their Massachusetts group, which has targeted [Attorney General] Maura Healey and her staff, with a plum job running a state agency.”
   Newton Mayor and 2018 gubernatorial candidate Setti Warren on the appointment of Ronald Amidon, president of the Gun Owners Action League (GOAL), as commissioner of the Department of Fish and Game.

   “I have known Ron for 15 years and his reasoned and ethical approach to dealing with issues and his absolute love of the outdoors will serve not only the sportsmen and women but all in the commonwealth.”
  Sen. Anne Gobi (D- Spencer) on Amidon’s appointment.

   “Updating our state’s law has helped ensure that transgender people are not turned away at hotels or banks, denied lifesaving medical care, or mistreated when trying to do something as basic as using the restroom. Most importantly, this law saves lives, because it sends a message to transgender youth that they have a future in this commonwealth.”
      Kasey Suffredini and Mason Dunn, co-chairs of Freedom for All Massachusetts, on the one-year anniversary of the law protecting transgender people from discrimination in public places.

   “Since this law was enacted, there’s been a significant increase in men entering women’s safe spaces and abusing them by taking videos and pictures when they’re most vulnerable and exposed … Corporations, employees, and even the police are becoming more concerned about lawsuits than women’s safety. We need to repeal this law to restore women’s safety in private spaces.”
   Chanel Prunier, Chairman of the Keep MA Safe Ballot Committee 
   “By moving your home and company to New Hampshire you could save in housing costs, and no longer pay any state income tax at all. New Hampshire’s cost of living is less than that in Massachusetts. More than 33,000 millionaires call New Hampshire home already … there are plenty of beautiful homes to choose from.”
   Jilletta Jarvis, Libertarian candidate for governor of New Hampshire, making an offer to Bay State millionaires if the voters of Massachusetts approve the 2018 ballot question imposing an additional 4 percent income tax, in addition to the current 5.10 percent tax, on taxpayers’ earnings of more than $1 million.
   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 July 3-7, the House met for a total of 12 hours and 44 minutes and the Senate met for a total of six hours and 28 minutes.
Mon. July 3 House 11:01 a.m. to 11:05 a.m.

                    No Senate session
Tues. July 4 No House session

                    No Senate session
Wed. July 5 House 11:01 a.m. to 2:20 p.m.

                    Senate l:09 p.m. to 1:13 p.m.


Thurs. July 6 House 11:02 a.m. to 4:29 p.m.

                    Senate 1:17 p.m. to 5:04 p.m.


Fri. July 7 House 1:39 p.m. to 5:33 p.m.

                    Senate 2:06 p.m. to 4:43 p.m.
  Bob Katzen welcomes feedback at

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