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 2017 session through August 11.
The House has held 80 roll call votes so far in 2017. 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 69 (43 percent) of the House’s 160 members have 100 percent roll call attendance records.
The representatives who missed the most roll calls are Reps. Marc Lombardo (R-Billerica) and Rep. Jose Tosado (D-Springfield), who both missed 17 (78.8 percent attendance).
Also included in the top six worst records are Reps. James Arciero (D-Westford) who missed 13 (83.8 percent attendance); Chris Walsh (D- Framingham) who missed 13 (83.8 percent attendance); John Rogers (D-Norwood) who missed 12 (85.0 percent attendance record); and Nicholas Boldyga (R-Southwick) who missed 10 (87.5 percent attendance record).
Beacon Hill Roll Call requested a statement from those six representatives. Here are their responses.
Rep. Marc Lombardo: “I missed the rules debate in January where the majority of the session’s roll calls all occurred on the same day. This was a rules debate, not a policy debate. I was out of town that day.”
Rep. Jose Tosado: “Most [of the roll calls], if not all occurred on the same day. My-sister in-law had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and my wife and I flew out to Orlando Florida to pay our last respects. She has [since] passed away.”
Rep. Chris Walsh: “In 2015 I discovered a lump in my leg that when biopsied tuned out to be a reasonably rare form of lymphoma … And since then I have been undergoing weeklong continuous chemotherapy sessions in a 21-day cycle that required hospitalization for a week, followed by a week when I could barely stand … [It is] a very dangerous condition to be around people with all their various germs … I am at Dana Farber being infused in a new immunotherapy trial that has promised to get me to a place where I can have a successful bone marrow transplant hopefully this fall. All in all I have continued to work by phone when I could not make it to the office, and attended functions and meetings when humanly possible. This new therapy will allow me to go back to a full schedule.”
Rep. James Arciero: Jeff Tucker from Arciero’s office responded. “The representative’s mother had terminal lung cancer and he spent some time with her at the end of her life. She lived in North Carolina, so [he] missed these roll calls.”
Rep. John Rogers: Rogers did not respond to the requests for a statement.
Rep. Nicholas Boldyga: Boldyga did not respond to the requests for a statement.
2017 ROLL CALL ATTENDANCE RECORD THROUGH AUGUST 11
The percentage listed next to the representative’s name is the percentage of roll call votes for which the representative was present and voting. The number in parentheses represents the number of roll calls that the representative missed.
Rep. Christine Barber 100 percent (0) Rep. Mike Connolly 100 percent (0) Rep. Denise Provost 100 percent (0)
ALSO UP ON BEACON HILL
STATEWIDE REGULATION OF TOBACCO RETAILERS (H 1158) – A measure before the Public Health Committee would allow the state, rather than cities and towns, to regulate sales of cigarettes and other tobacco products.
Supporters say local tobacco regulations vary widely and that the state should regulate this important market. They argue that when a community bans a tobacco product from being sold, local stores lose money to stores in neighboring communities. They note that the buyer will go to the out-of-town community not just to buy the tobacco product but to buy other things he or she would have bought in his or her own city or town.
Opponents say that cities and towns and their local boards of health should make these decisions and that local government is often the best government and is closer to the people.
HAIRDRESSERS MUST BE TRAINED IN DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AND SEXUAL ASSAULT (H 3465) – A bill before the Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure would require all applicants for a new or renewal of a license to be a hairdresser, barber, cosmetologist, electrolysis or manicurist, to complete one hour of domestic violence and sexual assault awareness education as part of their educational requirements to be licensed in their field.
Supporters say customers often talk to their hairdressers and others in the beauty field about their problems including domestic violence and sexual assault. They argue that requiring training in these fields could help protect some victims and even save their lives.
Opponents say this is more micromanaging and interference by the state.
MEDICS (H 3464) – Another proposal before the Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure Committee would require the state’s Department of Veteran Services to establish a program through which veterans who were medics in the U.S. Army, medical technicians in the Air Force, corpsman in the Navy and health services technician in the Coast Guard may perform some delegated acts that constitute the practice of medicine under the order and supervision of a registered physician.
Supporters say this will help many veterans since these medics have difficulty finding a civilian job in the medical field when they return from war. They argue the medic’s skills and experience are invaluable and should be put to good use to help patients.
LOWER AGE FOR CONSENT TO ABORTION (S 754) – A bill before the Judiciary Committee would lower from 18 to 16 the age at which a woman can have an abortion without parental permission.
Supporters say young adults are capable of making an informed decision and argue that the current 18-year-old parental notification and consent law increases the number of unsafe, illegal abortions. They noted that minors will sometimes travel to a nearby state where an abortion at their age is legal.
Opponents say that lowering the age takes power and authority away from parents who should have the right and duty to safeguard their young daughter’s physical and emotional well-being.
PET GROOMING (H 3544) – A bill before the Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure Committee would establish a Board of Registration of Pet Grooming. The board would issue licenses and create rules and regulations about the certification, education and continuing education of pet groomers.
In order to be licensed to work as a pet groomer a person would be required to do one of the following: complete an approved pet grooming certification program; become certified through the grandfathering process if they can provide evidence they have already completed a pet grooming training program; complete on-the-job training or an apprenticeship program that meets the requirements established by the board; or be employed under the direct supervision of a certified pet groomer.
Supporters say there have been numerous cases of pet injuries and fatalities occurring at grooming facilities. They argue that this certification training process will reduce the number of negligent grooming facilities and save lives.
EXPANSION OF TRANSPARENCY – Massachusetts Comptroller Thomas Shack announced an expansion of CTHRU, the cloud-based transparency and open records platform that provides the public with data on state government spending including payroll and payment transactions within all departments in the three branches of state government – Legislative, Executive and Judiciary.
The site will now include a Quasi-Governmental Financial Summary, Quasi-Governmental Payroll, State and Teachers’ Retirement Benefits and Executive Department New Hires.
“It’s as modern as it gets,” Shack said. “Today, you’ll see yesterday’s transactions. No human interaction. It’s all set up automatically so the data points flow automatically.”
Massachusetts ranks ninth out of 50 states for providing access to government spending, according to a 2016 report from the Public Interest Research Group (PIRG).
The website can be accessed at http://cthruspending.mass.gov/#!/year/2017/
BOB COUSY WAY (H 3534) – A bill before the Transportation Committee would name a section of Causeway street in Boston alongside TD Garden Bob Cousy Way, in honor of Boston Celtics legend Bob Cousy. The bill says that Cousy is “known as Mr. Basketball, for his role in saving the sport of professional basketball by transforming the game into to one of crowd appeal.”
“Voters and town officials should be aware that bans will do nothing to keep marijuana out of their towns. All the bans will do is keep criminals in charge of sales and drive consumers into markets where they might be exposed to dangerous, even deadly, products.”
Jim Borghesani Director of Communications for “Yes on 4,” the campaign to legalize marijuana.
“Look, Deval Patrick is a man with a good heart and he has terrific ideas. And if this is something he wants to do, he should do it.”
U.S. Sen. Liz Warren (D-Massachusetts) on former Gov. Deval Patrick possibly running for president in 2020.
“We can’t be a party and we can’t be a nation that says, ‘horse race to horse race, let’s just see what happens every four years and let’s get all excited speculating about who is going to be in the race in four years.’ Yes, I do have a race [for U.S. Senate] in 2018. I’m all in on that, I take nothing for granted.”
Sen. Warren on whether she might run for president in 2020.
“Not long after Massachusetts passed the [sales tax] increase, I was giving a speech to a group of conservative activists in New Hampshire. In the middle of my address I complained about the sales tax hike. To my surprise and chagrin, the crowd stood and applauded! As several told me after the talk, New Hampshire always welcomes the flood of Bay State spenders/shoppers after a new Massachusetts tax increase.”
Chip Ford, Executive Director of Citizens for Limited Taxation.
“It has been my heartfelt honor to serve the people of this district over the past ten years and I have been guided all along by an extraordinary role model in my late husband Paul. I have learned in life that there is a time for endings and for new beginnings. After much thought, I have decided that this is one of those times. The time feels right most especially because of my desire to spend more time enjoying and celebrating my wonderful and growing family.”
U.S. Rep. Niki Tsongas, announcing that she won’t be running for re-election in 2018.
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 August 7-11, the House met for a total of 19 minutes while the Senate met for a total of 12 minutes.
Mon. August 7 House 10:15 a.m. to 10:23 a.m.
Senate 10:01 a.m. to 10:09 a.m.
Tues. August 8 No House session
No Senate session
Wed. August 9 No House session
No Senate session
Thurs. August 10 House 11:03 a.m. to 11:14 a.m.
Senate 11:08 a.m. to 11:12 a.m.
Fri. August 11 No House session
No Senate session
Bob Katzen welcomes feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org