Beacon Hill Roll Call 43 – Report No. 12 March 19-23, 2018

By Bob Katzen

THE HOUSE AND SENATE. Beacon Hill Roll Call records local senators’ and representatives’ votes on roll calls from the week of March 19-23.


House 118-30, approved and sent to the Senate a bill regulating and taxing short-term rentals of less than 28 days that are offered by Airbnb, HomeAway and VRBO. Taxes would range from 4 percent to 8 percent based on how many units a host offers. No excise would be imposed if the total amount of rent is less than $15 per day or if the renter is in the United States military traveling on official military business.

Residential hosts renting two or fewer units would be taxed at 4 percent, investor hosts with three to five units would have a 5.7 percent tax, and professionally managed hosts renting six or more units would face an 8 percent tax per rental. All professionally managed hosts would be required to hire a property manager for each residential unit and maintain $1 million or more in liability insurance. Cities and towns would also have the option to impose local excise taxes of up to 5 percent for residential hosts, 6 percent for investors and 10 percent for professionally managed hosts.

Cities and towns that impose the local excise tax are required to conduct a safety inspection on the residential unit within 60 days of the unit being listed on a newly-created short-term rental registry. Municipalities are required to distribute 50 per cent of the excise tax collected by professionally managed hosts to programs addressing either local infrastructure needs or low- to moderate-income housing programs.

Supporters said the bill strikes a balance and levels the playing field of taxes and regulation of these untaxed and unregulated short-term rentals and hotels and motels that are currently regulated and taxed.

“The House took a thoughtful and holistic approach to regulating short term rentals,” said House Speaker Bob DeLeo. “For the first time in Massachusetts, we go beyond taxation and implement a necessary regulatory framework to ensure public safety and accountability

Opponents said the last thing Massachusetts needs is another tax. “This proposal is onerous and overly burdensome for our host community, and the kind of legislation the hotel industry has promoted across the country to prevent middle class families from earning additional income,” said Airbnb spokeswoman Crystal Davis. “The commonwealth and its residents can only truly benefit from fair and reasonable short-term rental rules.”

(A Yes” vote is for the bill. A “No” vote is against it.)

Rep. Christine Barber Yes Rep. Mike Connolly Yes Rep. Denise Provost Yes


Senate 37-0, approved and sent to the House a bill requiring the state to develop and allow cities and towns to institute a program to teach financial literacy to students in kindergarten to grade 12. The topics covered would include understanding banking and financial services, loans, interest, credit cards, online commerce, renting or buying a home, balancing a checkbook, state and federal taxes and charitable giving.

Supporters said it is important to start educating children about finances at an early age and to continue through their high school years.

“Today’s youth are bombarded with a multitude of financial options and responsibilities at an increasingly young age, yet many are ill-equipped to make informed decisions about financial matters,” said Sen. Jamie Eldridge (D-Acton.) “By teaching children the financial education basics in school, we will help them make educated financial decisions in the future, preventing future bankruptcies, foreclosures, and unmanageable debt. The investment we make in teaching our children financial literacy now will pay substantial future dividends.”

(A “Yes” vote is for the bill.)

Sen. Patricia Jehlen Didn’t Vote


Senate 32-4, approved and sent to the House a bill that updates the requirement that all public schools provide instruction in American history and civics.

Provisions include requiring all public-school students to participate in two student-led civics projects; making it mandatory beginning in 2021 for all students to complete one student-led civics project after 8th grade in order to graduate; permitting the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to establish an annual convention to assess the current state of civic education; and establishing a special commission to study the development of civic education for youth.

“Anyone who spends time in or follows the news from Beacon Hill or Washington knows that now more than ever before we need more people engaged in public life,” said Sen. Eileen Donoghue (D-Lowell). “The consolidated bill that passed the Senate will empower students with the knowledge they need today so they can more effectively improve our society tomorrow.”

“This bill is an important step toward fulfilling our responsibility to pass the torch of democracy to the next generation of voters and problem-solvers,” said Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz (D-Boston).

“Unfunded mandates are big issues with local governments especially those involving schools,” said Sen. Dean Tran (R-Fitchburg). “It is very unfortunate that the Senate has imposed another unfunded mandate on struggling schools across the commonwealth when we should be lessening the burden and increasing funding.”

“I understand the importance of educating students on the importance of being civically active and engaged in our democratic process,” said Sen. Ryan Fattman (R-Webster). “That being said, time and time again I hear from my constituents and school committee members about the undue financial burden of unfunded mandates on our communities.”

(A “Yes” vote is for the bill. A “No” vote is against it.)

Sen. Patricia Jehlen Didn’t Vote


Senate 7-29, rejected an amendment that would add “respectful tolerance of differing opinions” to the list of subjects that would be included in the history and social science curriculum framework that would be taught. The framework already includes American and local history; the function and composition of the branches of local, state and federal government; the roles and responsibilities of a citizen in a democracy; community diversity and the role it plays in the democratic process; and opportunities to identify and debate issues relative to power, economic status and the common good in democracy.

Amendment supporters said that especially in today’s political climate and a divided nation, it is important to teach students to respect each other’s opinions.

Amendment opponents said respect of each other’s opinions is already covered under other existing requirements including community diversity and the role it plays in the democratic process and the roles and responsibilities of a citizen in a democracy.

(A “Yes” vote is for including respectful tolerance of differing opinions. A “No” vote is against including it.)

Sen. Patricia Jehlen Didn’t Vote


Senate 7-29, rejected an amendment requiring the state to conduct a study to determine whether the new civics education law is an unfunded mandate being imposed on cities and towns.

Amendment supporters said it will cost money for the schools to implement this new law.

Amendment opponents said there are no anticipated costs to cities and towns in implementing the new law.

(A “Yes” vote is for the amendment. A “No” vote is against it.)

Sen. Patricia Jehlen Didn’t Vote


UNSOLICITED LOANS (S 2357) – The Senate approved and sent to the House a bill that makes it illegal to send consumers an unsolicited check that when cashed activates a high-interest loan.

Supporters said this unfair practice has fooled consumers and many ending up paying up to a 60 percent interest rate and go bankrupt.

“It’s important that the Senate passed this legislation because it will make predatory, unsolicited live checks with unfavorable terms being sent to people illegal,” said Sen. Kathleen O’Connor Ives. “It’s a common-sense consumer protection measure and I hope the House takes it up quickly.”

TOWING (S 2354) – The Senate approved and sent to the House legislation that would require towing companies that perform “voluntary towing,” at the request of the car owner, to hold a certificate from the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities. Current law only requires companies who do involuntary towing to have a certificate. Involuntary towing is when a car is hauled away by low enforcement or other authorities.

Supporters said that as it stands today, anyone can buy a tow truck and say they are a towing company. They said the new regulation is needed to ensure that companies have insurance and proper safeguards.

“This bill is about public safety and consumer protection,” said Sen. Michael Moore (D-Millbury). “By requiring the safeguard included in this legislation, we will ensure that when drivers are vulnerable and stranded on the side of the road, they can feel confident that their safety is the primary concern of the towing industry.”

QUOTABLE QUOTES – Special Twitter Edition

Here are the state’s six constitutional officers in order of the number of followers each one has on their Twitter account as of noon on March 23, 2018. Some of these officials have more than one Twitter account. The number of followers for each person represents the total number of followers in all the person’s those accounts.


Gov. Charlie Baker


Attorney General Maura Healey


Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito


Treasurer Deb Goldberg


Auditor Suzanne Bump


Sec. of State Bill Galvin

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 March 19-23, the House met for a total of three hours and 44 minutes while the Senate met for a total of six hours and 15 minutes.

Mon. March 19 House 11:11 a.m. to 11:24 a.m.

Senate 11:16 a.m. to 11:46 a.m.

Tues. March 20 No House session

No Senate session

Wed. March 21 House 11:00 a.m. to 11:16 a.m.

No Senate session

Thurs. March 22 House 2:07 p.m. to 5:22 p.m.

Senate 11:07 a.m. to 4:54 p.m.

Fri. March 23 No House session

No Senate session.

Bob Katzen welcomes feedback at

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.