Beacon Hill Roll Call Volume 42-Report No. 37 September 11-15, 2017

By Bob Katzen 
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   THE HOUSE AND SENATE: Beacon Hill Roll Call records local representatives’ votes on several of the roll calls overriding Gov. Charlie Baker’s cuts of $320 million in spending. A two-thirds vote in both branches is needed in order for a veto to be overridden. The Senate has not yet taken up the vetoes. The House restored an estimated $275 million.
   House Democratic leaders said the budget was balanced and that Baker’s cuts were unnecessary and would have hurt many people including the sick, seniors, children and minorities.
   “We’re going to start with vetoes that have a statewide impact and consider regional items in the upcoming weeks, and we’re continuing to monitor our fiscal trends and weigh our options as well,” said House Ways and Means Chairman Jeffrey Sánchez (D-Boston) during the debate. 
    “The current fiscal environment, specifically soft revenue collection reports to date, indicates there is no basis to support the decision to increase spending by $275 million,” said Baker spokesman Brendan Moss.
   House GOP Minority Leader Brad Jones (R-North Reading) said he was disappointed the House chose to move ahead with overturning a significant number of Baker’s spending vetoes. “State tax revenues are currently running behind projections and there are still many uncertainties about where those revenues will be trending in the months ahead,” said Jones. “Because of this, I decided to vote to sustain all of Gov. Baker’s vetoes, even though it meant voting against restoring funding for many worthwhile programs I otherwise would have supported. In my opinion, it would have been more prudent to wait and see what revenues look like in September and perhaps even October before moving forward with overrides.”

   House 126-25, overrode a reduction of $2.5 million (from $30,834,416 to $28,334,416) for HIV, AIDS, viral hepatitis, sexually transmitted infections and tuberculosis programs.
   (A “Yes” vote is for funding the $2.5 million. A “No” vote is against funding it.)

 Rep. Christine Barber Yes Rep. Mike Connolly Yes Rep. Denise Provost Didn’t Vote                             

   House 131-21, overrode a reduction of $1.25 million (from $2.5 million to $1.25 million) for early childhood mental health consultation services in early education and care programs.
      (A “Yes” vote is for funding the $1.25 million. A “No” vote is against funding it.)

 Rep. Christine Barber Yes Rep. Mike Connolly Yes Rep. Denise Provost Didn’t Vote                             

   House 139-13, overrode a reduction of $800,000 (from $2,606,334 to 1,806,334) for pediatric palliative care.
      (A “Yes” vote is for funding the $800,000. A “No” vote is against funding it.)

 Rep. Christine Barber Yes Rep. Mike Connolly Yes Rep. Denise Provost Didn’t Vote                             

     House 133-19, overrode a reduction of $275,000 (from $550,000 to $275,000) for prostate cancer awareness, education and research programs focusing on men with African-American, Hispanic or Latino heritage, family history of the disease and other men at high risk.
      (A “Yes” vote is for funding the $275,000. A “No” vote is against funding it.)

 Rep. Christine Barber Yes Rep. Mike Connolly Yes Rep. Denise Provost Didn’t Vote                             

   House 119-33, overrode a cut of the entire $200,000 for stroke treatment and prevention programs.
      (A “Yes” vote is for funding the $200,000. A “No” vote is against funding it.)

 Rep. Christine Barber Yes Rep. Mike Connolly Yes Rep. Denise Provost Didn’t Vote                             

   House 143-9, overrode a cut of the entire $100,000 for a Down Syndrome Program at the Children’s Medical Center at the 

University of Massachusetts Memorial Medical Center in Worcester.
      (A “Yes” vote is for funding the $100,000. A “No” vote is against funding it.)

 Rep. Christine Barber Yes Rep. Mike Connolly Yes Rep. Denise Provost Didn’t Vote                             
CUT $200,000 FOR SAMARITANS (H 3800)

   House 129-23, overrode a reduction of $200,000 (from $400,000 to $200,000) for the Samaritans for suicide prevention services.
      (A “Yes” vote is for funding the $200,000. A “No” vote is against funding it.)

 Rep. Christine Barber Yes Rep. Mike Connolly Yes Rep. Denise Provost Didn’t Vote                             

   PHYSICIAN-ASSISTED SUICIDE (H 1194) – The Public Health Committee will hold a hearing on September 26 at 1 p.m. in Rooms A-1 and A-2 at the Statehouse on a very controversial bill that would allow terminally ill patients with fewer than six months to live to obtain medication they can self-administer to commit suicide. 
   Voters defeated a similar measure on the 2012 ballot by a very slim 51 percent to 49 percent margin with 1,466,866 voting for the measure and 1,534,757 against. There were also 182,573 blank ballots of people who took a ballot but did not vote on this question.
   NO ROBOCALLS TO CELL PHONES (H 2828) – Also on September 26 at 1:00 p.m. in Room B-1 at the Statehouse, the Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure Committee will hold a hearing on a measure that would prohibit robocalls to cell phones and other mobile electronic devices. The measure exempts messages from school districts to students, parents or employees; companies advising employees of work schedules; correctional facilities advising victims of the release of an offender; and municipalities and state government.


   Another provision would fine companies up to $10,000 if they make an illegal robocall and allow an individual who is called to sue a company for $10,000.
   Supporters say it is time to put a stop to these calls which can be very annoying. They note that sometimes robocalls cost the cell phone user money if he or she pays for incoming calls.
   NO LATEX (H 1221) – The Public Health Committee held a hearing on a bill that would prohibit any employee who handles food from using latex gloves and imposes up to a $500 fine on violators.


   “Recent data indicates that the prevalence of latex allergy is approximately 4 percent of the population worldwide and about 9 percent among healthcare workers,” said bill sponsor Rep. John Scibak (D-Hadley). “Exposure can result in symptoms ranging from itching, runny nose to asthma-like symptoms of wheezing, chest tightness and difficulty breathing, with the most severe allergy resulting in persons going into anaphylactic shock or even death.”
   MANDATORY DENTAL EXAMS (H 2456) – Another bill heard by the Public Health Committee would require every child in Massachusetts to have a dental exam sometime in the 12 months prior to entering kindergarten.
   “Dental disease is the most common, chronic childhood disease, five times more common than asthma,” said the bill’s sponsor Rep. Sean Garballey (D-Arlington). “In the United States, it is estimated that 51 million school hours are lost each year due to dental-related causes.”
   LOTS OF BILLS AIRED BY JUDICIARY COMMITTEE – A major hearing by the Judiciary Committee on dozens of bills was held at the Statehouse last week. Among the proposals on the agenda were:
   FOOD FOR HOMELESS (S 838 and H 3327) – Expands liability protections for food donations to non-profits and to individuals and creates a tax deduction for farmers who donate crops.


  “In every community of the Commonwealth, many people struggle to find enough food to eat each day,” said co-sponsors Sen. Eileen Donoghue (D-Lowell) and Rep. Hannah Kane (R-Shrewsbury) in a joint letter. “At the same time, many restaurants, grocery stores, and farmers have food that they could donate to mitigate this problem [but] … many unnecessary barriers stand in the way of food donation.”
   GOOD SAMARITAN LAW (S 829) – Amends the current law that protects individuals from liability when providing emergency care on the spot.
  Supporters said that the current Good Samaritan Law only provides protection for someone who helps the victim of a crime. They noted the amendment would extend that protection to people who provide assistance to a victim in any emergency situation as long as they are not provided compensation for providing assistance.
   LOWER AGE FOR CONSENT TO ABORTION (H 893) – Lowers from 18 to 16 the age at which a woman can have an abortion without parental permission.
   “Many young women end up being impregnated by child sexual abuse or by incest,” said the bill’s sponsor Rep. David Linsky (D-Natick). He noted the bill “would put Massachusetts in line with all the other surrounding states, thereby not forcing Massachusetts women to travel out of state, as many presently do.”
   He continued, “For young adults who cannot turn to a parent, they currently must navigate the court system as part of a process that causes undue stress and leads to unnecessary delays in care. [This] creates an atmosphere of fear and evasiveness, and puts the state’s young women in harm’s way.”
     “[The bill] is one more tawdry effort by Planned Parenthood to promote its abortion business,” said Catholic Action League Executive Director C. J. Doyle. “This time, they seek not only to expand the killing of innocent human life, but to undermine the integrity of the family and the right of parents to control the moral upbringing of their own children. In what might be the most important decision in a young woman’s life, they want to separate her from her parents, and impose instead the intrusive authority of the state. It smacks of totalitarianism.” 
   QUOTABLE QUOTES – “By the Numbers Edition” – Jobs Report from the state’s Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development.
4.2 percent
The unemployment rate in Massachusetts

The number of jobs added in August.

The number of jobs added in the past 12 months.



   Number of people in the state who are employed.



   Number of people in the state who are unemployed.
   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 11-15, the House met for a total of five hours and three minutes while the Senate met for a total of two hours and 30 minutes.
Mon. Sept. 11 House 12:01 p.m. to 12:38 p.m.

                    Senate 11:10 a.m. to 12:50 p.m.
Tues. Sept. 12 No House session

                    No Senate session
Wed. Sept. 13 House 1:02 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

                    No Senate session
Thurs. Sept. 14 House 11:03 a.m. to 11:31 a.m.

                    Senate 11:15 a.m. to 11:25 a.m.


Fri. Sept. 15 No House session

                    No Senate session
Bob Katzen welcomes feedback at

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