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 December 15.
The House has held 305 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 305 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 65 (41 percent) of the House’s 160 members have 100 percent roll call attendance records.
The representative who missed the most roll calls is Rep. James Arciero (D-Westford) who missed 74, (75.7 percent attendance).
Also included in the top five worst records are Reps. Angelo Puppolo (D-Springfield) who missed 70, (77.0 percent attendance); Aaron Michlewitz (D-Boston) who missed 69, (77.4 percent attendance); Alice Peisch (D-Wellesley) who missed 68, (77.7 percent attendance); and Brian Ashe (D-Longmeadow) who missed 66, (78.4 percent attendance).
Beacon Hill Roll Call requested a statement from those five representatives. Here are their responses.
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. Angelo Puppolo: He did not respond to repeated requests for a statement.
Rep. Aaron Michlewitz: “The reason I missed those roll calls was it was the week I was on my honeymoon in Europe.”
Rep. Alice Peisch: “I was unexpectedly hospitalized from September 18th to 28th during which time I had abdominal surgery. On September 27th, while I was in the hospital recovering from the surgery, the House voted on about 60 veto overrides. That was the only day that I was not present for a formal session this year. Had I been able to attend that day, my voting percentage this session would be in line with my high percentage in past sessions. I take my job as State Representative for the 14th Norfolk District very seriously and do not lightly miss votes, as is evidenced by the fact that I was present for all roll call votes on October 4th, less than a week after I was discharged from the hospital and still recuperating.”
Rep. Brian Ashe: “Unfortunately the votes that I missed were all on one day. I was at a National Conference of State Legislatures working on cybersecurity issues facing the commonwealth and the entire country. I had committed to the conference months in advance and it was too late to cancel by the time I found out that we would be in session. I was disappointed that I had to miss any votes as I had only missed one formal session in the past nine years.”
REPRESENTATIVES’ 2017 ROLL CALL ATTENDANCE RECORD THROUGH DECEMBER 15
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 78.6 percent (65)
ALSO UP ON BEACON HILL
ATTLEBORO’S REP. PAUL HEROUX VIOLATES SEVERAL CAMPAIGN FINANCE LAWS – The Office of Campaign and Political Finance (OCPF) entered into an agreement with Rep. Paul Heroux of Attleboro to resolve issues concerning non-disclosure of campaign contributions, accepting prohibited contributions, poor recordkeeping and personal use of campaign funds in 2015 and 2016. Heroux was elected mayor of Attleboro in November and will resign his House seat when he begins his term as mayor. As part of the agreement, OCPF agreed not to refer Heroux or his committee to any other law enforcement agency, including the Office of the Attorney General, for the violations.
OCPF’s review of Heroux’s campaign finance reports found that Heroux did not keep adequate records of the bank records and campaign finance reports. Violations include failure to disclose $2,737 in contributions; failure to disclose $3,766 in expenditures, $1,725 of which were transfers to Heroux’s personal bank account; accepting $235 in prohibited business contributions; a 2016 year-end report disclosing an ending balance of $16,808 while the actual bank balance was $13,780; and expenditures totaling approximately $900, in which campaign funds were used for personal expenditures, and subsequent transfers were made from Heroux’s personal account to the committee’s account to reimburse the campaign. OCPF found that some of the personal use expenditures occurred at a time when Heroux’s personal bank balance was minimal.
To resolve these matters, Heroux agreed to pay a civil disposition totaling $2,500. He has made a personal payment of $1,435 to the state’s General Fund and has repaid his committee $1,065 for the personal use of campaign funds.
As part of the agreement, Heroux and his campaign committee agreed to an enhanced reporting schedule for 2018 and 2019 — two additional paper reports in 2018, and two additional paper reports in 2019. Paper reports are filed in addition to the regular reports that are e-filed. Heroux and his committee also agreed to provide OCPF with copies of its bank statements, expenditure checks, deposit tickets and contributor checks with each report through 2019; to cease making transfers between the committee’s bank account and Heroux’s personal bank account; to cease making personal expenditures from the committee account; and for Heroux and his committee treasurer to attend an OCPF educational seminar no later than February 28, 2018.
Here is Heroux’s response, take directly from the agreement:
“I’m very pleased to have worked with OCPF to resolve a discrepancy in my campaign account. When I noticed there was a difference between my bank account and my campaign account, I tried to reconcile the difference on my own. When it became clear to me that I could not find out what happened I requested an audit from OCPF, readily providing them with access to my campaign account and my personal checking account. I had nothing to hide.
It turns out that mistakes were made on my campaign account, which I am ultimately responsible for. The first mistake involves the manner in which I purchased work related items with my personal debit card and was intentionally reimbursing myself from my campaign account at a later date, which I did. However, I reimbursed myself using a wire transfer, but I later learned this is not permitted. It is technically a commingling of accounts.
Over the last 5 1/2 years I loaned my campaign account thousands of dollars. There were times when I would need to reimburse myself with the intention of redepositing money into my account in order to maintain a healthy balance. However, as it turns out, because of some inconsistent reporting between me and campaign volunteers, I thought I had a balance, or I should say campaign liabilities, that I was able to reimburse myself for. I withdrew funds and later redepositing them. Put another way, my thinking was that I had still had a balance of loaned campaign funds, when in fact I did not. The consequence of this was that I was borrowing from my campaign account, which was unintentional, but not permitted nonetheless.
There was an easy way to avoid all these errors and that is if I was in the depository system that other elected officials are in. I’m glad to have worked with OCPF. Mistakes were made with my campaign account, which I am responsible for. I don’t expect to make these mistakes again in the future.”
COUNTERFEIT AIRBAGS (H 4015) – The House gave initial approval to legislation that would impose a 2.5-year prison sentence and/or up to $5,000 fine on anyone who imports or sells counterfeit airbags in Massachusetts. Over the past few years, thousands of counterfeit airbags have made their way into the Bay State through purchases and sales on the Internet.
“I filed this bill to protect Massachusetts drivers from being injured and killed when counterfeit airbags fail to deploy properly,” said Rep. Jennifer Benson (D-Lunenburg).
THE REGISTRY MAKES DRIVER’S LICENSE RENEWAL EASIER – The Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) has extended the length of time a driver’s photo is valid on his or her license from nine years to 14 years. Bay State driver’s licenses are valid for five years. That means customers can now renew their license online three times (once every five years) before they must go to a Registry office to have a new picture taken. Under the prior 9-year system, drivers could renew their license online only twice before being required to have a new photo taken.
“The Registry is pleased to offer these helpful enhancements to service options that are currently available to our customers,” said Registrar of Motor Vehicles Erin Deveney. “We encourage customers to conveniently renew their driver’s license or Massachusetts ID card online if they are eligible to do so, saving a trip to a service center.”
The Registry projects that the new regulation will result on an estimated 360,000 additional renewal transactions to be processed online annually and will substantially decrease the number of customers who must visit a Registry office and make in-person transactions faster and more efficient for customers who do need to visit an office.
SENATE CANCELS HOLIDAY PARTY – Acting Senate President Harriette Chandler (D-Worcester) has canceled the annual holiday party for senators and their staffs. Chandler’s office told Beacon Hill Roll Call, “There will be no Senate holiday party this year. After speaking with her leadership team, the Acting Senate president made the determination that a holiday party would not be appropriate.”
Chandler’s decision was made as a result of the current situation in which she has temporarily replaced former Senate President Stan Rosenberg who stepped down from the post pending an investigation by the Senate Ethics Committee into allegations in the Boston Globe that Rosenberg’s husband, Bryon Hefner, groped three men and kissed another one against his will. The Globe story also included claims that Hefner has said he speaks for Rosenberg and talks about Senate business with legislators and their staffs.
The Senate Ethics Committee is beginning an investigation of the sexual assault charges against Hefner, whether Rosenberg violated any rules of the Senate and if Hefner did have any influence over what happens in the Senate.
NUCLEAR, LEAD AND TOXIC CHEMICALS – The Public Health Committee held a hearing on several bills including:
PREPARE FOR NUCLEAR DISASTERS (H 1131) – Increases from 10 miles to 20 miles the radius around a nuclear power plant in which the state’s Department of Public Health is required to conduct environmental monitoring. Another provision provides for the stockpiling of thyroid-blocking agents for use by cities and towns within the expanded radius.
“[This bill] updates emergency preparedness requirements to better comport to the experience of nuclear disasters around the world,” said the bill’s sponsor Rep. Jim Cantwell (D-Marshfield). “We’ve learned from the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster that high levels of radiation impacts were detected in an area well over 20 to 25 miles, and that residents were encouraged to vacate an area of 50 miles from the nuclear plant following the initial meltdown … These measures will provide better protection to citizens in the event of a reactor event.”
DISCLOSE LEAD IN PIPES (S 2224) – Requires owners of property for sale to disclose any information they have on whether there is lead in the water pipes.
Sen. Jason Lewis (D-Winchester), the sponsor of the proposal, said, “I’m pleased to sponsor this impactful legislation as increased disclosure helps to reduce lead exposure by raising awareness of hazards so people can take action to reduce risk; helping renters and homebuyers make more informed decisions; and creating market incentives to replace potentially harmful pipes.”
DISCLOSE TOXIC CHEMICALS (S 1191) – This bill would require manufacturers who make children’s consumer products that are for sale in the Bay State to notify the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) in writing if the products contain toxic chemicals at certain levels.
“Studies have repeatedly shown that a variety of toxic chemicals we come in contact with every day are linked to chronic diseases and disorders,” said Sen. Cindy Friedman (D-Arlington). “This bill would aid in protecting the health of our children by requiring certain manufacturers to disclose the toxic chemicals in their products. It’s time we made serious efforts to reduce the use of toxic chemicals in children’s products by urging manufacturers to use safer alternatives.”
“The freest economies operate with comparatively less government interference, relying more on personal choice and markets to decide what’s produced, how it’s produced and how much is produced. As government imposes restrictions on these choices, there’s less economic freedom and less opportunity for prosperity.”
Fred McMahon, co-author of the “Economic Freedom of North America Report,” published by Boston’s Pioneer Institute and Canada’s Fraser Institute, that ranked Massachusetts 13th ‘’in economic freedom out of the 50 states.
“The Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke is responsible for providing our brave men and women with a safe and secure home and care befitting the sacrifices they have made for us. I’m pleased that the home has indicated its commitment to implementing our recommendations.”
State Auditor Suzanne Bump on her audit of the home and her recommended improvements to several things including the system of documentation of inspections of safety equipment, dormitories, and care areas after the home could not provide evidence that these inspections occurred as required. The home indicated in the audit report that it is working with the appropriate authorities to implement proper electronic tracking and monitoring of inspections.
“Companies cannot use deceptive practices to increase their profits, while compromising the safety and well-being of patients. With this settlement, we are bringing more than $2 million back to Massachusetts after uncovering this unlawful conduct.”
Attorney General Maura Healey announcing that Massachusetts will receive $2.4 million from a medical device company in a multistate settlement resolving allegations that the company unlawfully promoted a device used in certain surgical procedures.
“Bitcoin is just the latest in a history of speculative bubbles that most often burst, leaving the average investors with a worthless product … Chasing the next best thing will, more often than not, end in disaster for the average investor.”
Secretary of State Bill Galvin on the digital currency Bitcoin.
“Massachusetts can be a leader again in fighting tobacco by increasing funding for tobacco prevention and cessation programs and raising the tobacco age to 21. As Massachusetts itself has shown, we can win the fight against tobacco and make the next generation tobacco-free, but Massachusetts needs to keep doing its part to help us achieve these goals. Raising the state’s tobacco age to 21 would be an excellent step forward.”
Matthew Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, on a new report that ranked Massachusetts ranked protecting kids from tobacco, as measured by funding for anti-smoking programs.
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 December 11-15, the House met for a total of 55 minutes while the Senate met for a total of 49 minutes.
Mon. December 11 House 11:00 a.m. to 11:33 a.m.
Senate 11:06 a.m. to 11:27 a.m.
Tues. December 12 No House session
No Senate session
Wed. December 13 No House session
No Senate session
Thurs. December 14 House 11:01 a.m. to 11:23 a.m.
Senate 11:10 a.m. to 11:38 a.m.
Fri. December 15 No House session
No Senate session
Bob Katzen welcomes feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org