Beacon Hill Roll Call Volume 43 – Report No. 29 July 16-20, 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 July 16-20.

A note to readers from Bob Katzen, Publisher of Beacon Hill Roll Call:

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House 143-6, Senate 36-1, approved and sent to Gov. Charlie Baker the conference committee compromise version of a $41.88 billion fiscal 2019 state budget. 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 final version is nearly $400 million more than what either branch approved.

“This budget demonstrates a commitment to our constituents and is a testament to the fiscal strength of our commonwealth,” said Senate President Harriette Chandler (D-Worcester). “With this funding, we are supporting our children’s education, the transit systems in our cities and towns, and underserved youth and families across Massachusetts.”

“I voted against the conference committee budget for fiscal year 2019 because it did not contain even rudimentary protections from overzealous law enforcement for immigrants in Massachusetts,” said Rep. Denise Provost (D-Somerville). “Massachusetts should not be abetting or participating in enforcement of these policies. It violates our heritage as the state which, in 1855, passed a law which prohibited state officers from assisting in the removal from the commonwealth of escaped slaves seeking refuge here.”

“This is a fiscally sound budget that addresses key House priorities,” said House Speaker Bob DeLeo (D-Winthrop). “I am particularly proud of our investments in early education and care, the stabilization fund deposit, our work to bolster this year’s landmark criminal justice bill and our decision to lift the cap on welfare benefits.”

Other opponents said the budget does not make sufficient cuts, 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 No Rep. Denise Provost No Sen. Patricia Jehlen Yes


House 143-5, Senate 36-0, approved and sent to Gov. Baker a bill imposing a $2 tax on car rentals to fund municipal police training.

Amendment supporters said the small fee would raise up to $10 million annually for this fund established by the criminal justice law signed by Gov. Baker last month.

“This is the result of years of tireless advocacy from the Mass Chiefs of Police Association and other law enforcement entities to secure a dedicated revenue stream for police training,” said Rep. Hal Naughton (D-Clinton). “This will ensure our officers in the commonwealth have access to better training practices and resources as well as fulfill training mandates required by the state. Training is critical for officers to safely do their jobs and it is more important than ever that we make sure our men and women in law enforcement get all the support they need to keep us all safe.”

“I am extremely disappointed that police training money was used as a cover to create a new tax on rental cars,” said Rep. Shaunna O’Connell (R-Taunton). The commonwealth has a $1.2 billion surplus of revenue and yet the state could not find the money to fund police training without raising taxes. Unfortunately, all too often when a tax is implemented for a purpose it disappears into the General Fund.”

“The commonwealth’s municipal police officers have been underserved by reliance on an annual budget appropriation to the Municipal Police Training Council,” said Rep. Tim Whelan (R-Brewster), a former police officer. “The bill is a vehicle for guaranteed funding long sought by the Mass Chiefs of Police Association to ensure our brave law enforcement officers have resources available to give them access to the training they need to improve their safety and their dedicated service to our communities.”

“I completely support our police and their need for ongoing training,” said Rep. Marc Lombardo (R-Billerica). “I oppose a new tax to fund this while we have a $1.2 billion budget surplus. We should have funded this within the budget with existing revenues.”

(A “Yes” vote is for the $2 tax to fund police training. A “No” vote is against it.)

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


House 146-3, Senate 32-3, approved a bill raising from 18 to 21 the age to legally purchase cigarettes and electronic cigarettes in the Bay State. Other provisions ban e-cigarettes and other vape devices from the workplace and prohibit pharmacies and healthcare facilities from selling any tobacco or vape products.

“Increasing the tobacco age to 21 will reduce tobacco use among youth and young adults – age groups when nearly all tobacco use begins and that are heavily targeted by the tobacco industry,” said Matthew Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. “We know that about 95 percent of adult smokers began smoking before they turned 21. We also know that tobacco companies spend $9.5 billion a year – more than $1 million every hour – to market their deadly and addictive products, much of it aimed at young people.”

Sen. Don Humason (R-Westfield) said he opposes the bill because it takes away personal freedom and individual responsibility. He revealed that he has never smoked cigarettes or marijuana or vaped. He said he doesn’t think people should do any of those three things but that he has a hard time when the government tries to tell adults what they can and cannot do. He said the government should provide information to help people make a decision on these matters.

(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 Sen. Patricia Jehlen Yes


House 138-9, Senate 38-0, approved and sent to Gov. Baker a bill that would eliminate old state laws restricting or banning abortion and contraception.

The laws repealed include the ban on unmarried people accessing abortion and contraception; the ban on distributing information on how to procure contraception or abortion care; a law which punishes doctors, pharmacists and all healthcare providers for distributing contraception or providing abortion care; and a ban on adultery and fornication.

“I applaud the Massachusetts House of Representatives for voting overwhelmingly to wipe archaic and unconstitutional laws off the books and make clear the right to safe, legal abortion is protected in our state,” said Dr. Jennifer Childs-Roshak, president and CEO, of Planned Parenthood Advocacy Fund of Massachusetts. “These archaic laws represent a Massachusetts that no longer exists — one in which women did not have autonomy over their bodies, futures, or lives—and one that should never again exist.”

“The vote to pass [the bill] was a decade in the making, and its passage proves that Massachusetts is ready to lead the way in ensuring access to abortion and contraceptive care, especially given the threat to our basic rights on the federal level” said Rebecca Hart Holder, President of NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts. With this win, Massachusetts now has the momentum necessary to push even further, having laid the groundwork to take the next steps to enshrine protections for abortion access in state law and become a safe haven state for reproductive health care.”

The Catholic Action League called the House vote “hasty, histrionic, and gratuitous, but unsurprising.” “Once again, members of the Massachusetts Legislature have demonstrated their toadying subservience to one of the state’s most powerful special interests—Planned Parenthood,” said the league’s Executive Director C. J. Doyle. “More than 70 percent of state senators and more 64 percent of state representatives are listed by the Planned Parenthood Advocacy Fund of Massachusetts as ‘Champions’ or ‘Allies.'”

Doyle continued, “As the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court asserted as long ago as 1981, in Moe v. Secretary of Administration and Finance, that the state Constitution contains a right to abortion, a possible future U.S. Supreme decision reversing or modifying Roe v. Wade would have no effect in Massachusetts. This measure is more about pandering than lawmaking.”

(A “Yes” vote is for the bill. A “No” vote is against it. The House vote is from last week. The Senate vote is from January.)

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


Senate 22-15, approved a local option bill allowing a city or town to authorize the creation of community benefit districts which would permit owners of contiguous property in a city or town to form a district and require property owners to pay for additional services, improvements, events and other projects and activities within the district. The districts would be operated by a nonprofit board.

Is the required payment a tax or an assessment fee? It depends on who you ask.

“Assessment fees are not a tax,” said Andre Leroux, Executive Director MA Smart Growth Alliance which supports the bill. “They are established by local initiative through the development of a management plan, a petition signed by participants, after a public hearing, approval by the City Council or Board of Selectmen, and under the control of a nonprofit management entity that allows broad community input and control. The fees are paid by property owners for services (benefits) that they receive and manage. Is a condo fee a tax? It’s the same principle on a district scale.”

“Condo fees are a voluntary imposition, part of a contract entered into only if one chooses,” said Citizens for Limited Taxation Executive Director Chip Ford who opposes the measure. “They are avoidable. Community Benefit District taxes will be imposed ex-post facto on an unwilling entity by a hungry majority of beneficiaries. It will become the proverbial two wolves and a lamb democratically voting on what’s for dinner. By the way, the wolves and lamb have already paid their dinner tab, to the state and municipality, so don’t need to vote on it.”

“While our statewide economy is strong and unemployment low, there are still many communities where that is not the case,” said the bill’s sponsor Sen. Brendan Crighton (D-Lynn). “Municipalities across the state do their best to create environments that spur economic growth, but they are often dealing with limited resources and capacities. Community Benefit Districts can help by offering a tool that brings all of the stakeholders together with the goal of making neighborhood improvements, creating jobs, and growing our local economies. These benefits could include improved walkability, lighting, cultural programs, branding, landscaping, and supports for local businesses.”

“Communities already have democratic and voluntary tools to make district improvements,” said Sen. Pat Jehlen (D-Somerville) who voted against the proposal. “This bill would make it easier for a minority of property owners to form a private corporation with the power to tax their neighbors and make decisions about public spaces and district services.”

The House and Senate have approved different versions of the bill. The Senate version now goes to the House for consideration.

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

Sen. Patricia Jehlen No

OPIOIDS (S 2609)

Senate 37-0, approved a bill aimed at combatting the opioid problem in the Bay State by addressing opioid addiction, prevention and treatment. The House has approved a different version and a conference committee will try to hammer out a compromise version.

The measure establishes a statewide standing order for Narcan, expanding access to this opioid overdose-reversing drug without an individual prescription; establishes a statewide program to provide remote consultations with primary care practices, nurse practitioners and other health care providers for persons over the age of 17 experiencing chronic pain; establishes a Substance Use Prevention, Education and Screening Trust Fund to support school-based programs that educate children and young persons on alcohol and substance misuse and identify and support children and young persons at risk of alcohol or substance misuse; and requires acute care hospitals that provide emergency services to maintain protocols.

Other provisions require most prescriptions for controlled substances be provided electronically; permit a patient to partially fill a prescription for a schedule II substance and return to the original dispensing pharmacy for the remaining amount of the prescription; and prohibit the use of drug coupons for opiate drugs.

“Despite efforts to suppress the opioid crisis, families across the commonwealth continue to lose their loved ones to substance use disorder,” said Sen. Cindy Friedman (D-Arlington), Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Mental Health, Substance Use and Recovery. “This legislation builds upon the work the state has done around opioid misuse and prevention and provides another set of tools to reduce harm, save lives, and increase access to evidence-based treatment. We have a major epidemic on our hands and we have to use everything at our disposal to cure this disease.”

(A “Yes” vote is for the bill.)

Sen. Patricia Jehlen Yes


Senate 37-0, approved and sent to the House a bill that would require the Department of Telecommunications and Cable to develop a user-friendly grading system that will grade Internet Service Providers (ISPs) on how effectively they provide net neutral services and protect customer’s privacy. A good grade will allow an ISP to display a “Massachusetts Net Neutrality and Consumer Privacy Seal” on their marketing materials.

Other provisions require state agencies to give preference to contracting with ISPs that provide net neutral service; require ISPs to disclose to each customer its net neutrality and consumer privacy grade before entering into an agreement for service and annually thereafter; and create the ISP Registry for the purpose of making internet service quality and network management practices readily available to customers.

Net neutrality is the principle that an ISPs must treat all Internet data equally and cannot block or slow down any content or websites. The Obama Administration adopted net neutrality rules in 2015 but the Trump Administration repealed them in 2017. The Senate had considered but decided against a statewide ban on ISPs blocking access to content or slowing the speed but was concerned about running afoul of the supremacy clause in the U.S. Constitution that gives precedence to federal law.

“Consumers ought to be able to understand whether their ISP manages traffic on its network fairly and protects their private information,” said Sen. Cynthia Stone Creem (D-Newton), chair of the Senate Special Committee on Net Neutrality and Consumer Protection. “Until the Federal government is willing to be a strong regulator in this area again, the states must step forward to provide customers with meaningful information they can trust.”

Although no one voted against the bill, there was criticism from outside the chamber.

“Our members support and adhere to the principles of net neutrality every day while employing thousands of Massachusetts residents and investing over a billion dollars annually in the commonwealth’s economy,” said Tim Wilkerson, Vice President and General Counsel of the New England Cable and Telecommunications Association. “The measure that passed today will do little to protect consumers while hurting innovation and economic growth. The best solution is a bipartisan, federal net neutrality law that protects consumers and encourages investment here in Massachusetts and across New England.”

(A “Yes” vote is for the bill.)

Sen. Patricia Jehlen Yes


$41.88 BILLION STATE BUDGET DOES NOT INCLUDE SENATE IMMIGRANT POLICY – The state budget approved by the House and Senate last week does not include a Senate-approved plan that would prohibit police and other law enforcement from asking people about their immigration status. Other provisions that were in the Senate budget but not in the House version include ending the practice that deputizes state and local law enforcement as U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents; banning state resources from being used to create a registry based on ethnicity, religion, country of origin and other criteria; and requiring that immigrants be notified of their due-process rights.

The conference committee that hammered out the compromise version of the budget that was approved last week decided not to include the Senate provision in the final version.

Reaction from both sides was swift. “By refusing to adopt even the most basic legal protections for immigrants, the Legislature abdicated its moral leadership and failed thousands of its constituents,” said Eva Millona of the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition.

Rep. Marc Lombardo (R-Billerica) praised the action. “Good news on the state budget front,” he tweeted. “We finally have a budget coming to the floor today and it does not contain language making Massachusetts a sanctuary state.”

“Because of this failure of leadership, immigrant survivors of domestic violence and other victims of crime may not come forward to law enforcement when they need help,” said Carol Rose, Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts. “Now, people living in Massachusetts will not be guaranteed their due process and informed about their rights when faced with a potential major deprivation of liberty, like being separated from family and facing deportation. Now, President Trump’s mass deportation agenda can continue here in Massachusetts. This is disgraceful. Period.”

Good news!” tweeted Rep. Geoff Diehl (R-Whitman). “The state budget released doesn’t contain sanctuary state language. Great victory for public safety!”

“It’s important to be clear: there’s nothing in state law that precludes municipalities from adopting their own policies regarding their interactions with ICE,” said House Speaker Bob DeLeo (D-Winthrop). “Where consensus eluded us was to force municipalities into a statewide policy. Different communities have different approaches. I wholly anticipate the House will spend the next few months evaluating what can be done on a state level.”

LEAD IN SCHOOL WATER (S 2595) – The Senate approved and sent to the House legislation to establish a commission to study the prevalence and remediation of lead in school drinking water at all private and public schools and center-based child care facilities in the commonwealth.

“It is essential that schools throughout the commonwealth provide a safe environment for children to learn and grow without the threat of lead poisoning,” said Sen. Joan Lovely (D-Salem), one of the sponsors of the bill.

Lovely noted that almost half of the school water tests conducted in the Bay State found some level of lead in the water. She said that according to the Centers for Disease Control and the Department of Environmental Protection, there is no safe level of lead exposure. She noted that many of the schools’ water service lines are still made of lead, which has been found to leach lead into school water through the pipes, plumbing and water fountains.

TAX CREDITS FOR PET ADOPTION (H 4647) – The Committee on Revenue held a hearing on a bill that would give a tax credit to taxpayers who adopt a dog or cat from a shelter. The credit ranges from $100 to $400 depending on the age and health of the animal. The credit is given over three years and is capped at $500 per year per household.

The bill also establishes the Adopt a Shelter Pet Fund from which to provide the tax credits and also permits the Registrar of Motor Vehicles to expand distinctive registration plates to include a design indicating support for adoption of animals from shelters and include the phrase “I’m Animal Friendly.” Part of the fee would be deposited into the Adopt a Shelter Pet Fund.

“Dogs and cats, more often than not, are beginning to call shelters their home,” said the bill’s sponsor Rep. David Muradian (R-Grafton). “This tax credit will not only promote the adoption of pets through rescue organizations, but also provide reimbursements to the commonwealth as well. I am confident that this language will also spark a change throughout the entire country, as passing a bill of this kind would be a first for the nation.”


“Our highest priority at the MTA is to make sure all students have the opportunity to learn at excellent, well-funded public schools and colleges. We are still a long way from achieving that goal.”

Massachusetts Teacher’s Association President Merrie Najimy on what she said is the underfunding of education in the state budget.

“The public should know at every level that their legislators are putting the public good first, and the only way to do that is to carry out the work in the public eye.”

Emily Norton, Chapter Director of the Massachusetts Sierra Club urging the conference committee deliberating on a final energy bill to open up its sessions to the public.

“This bill as far as I’m concerned goes hand in glove with the ‘MeToo’ movement. I am so sick of hearing that while we can’t talk about this in a public venue, it’s all being addressed at home. I know there are some homes that are talking about it but there are a lot more that are not talking about it.”

Rep. Jim O’Day (D-West Boylston) on his comprehensive sex education legislation.

“We strongly urge every member of the House to think about the number of crashes that could be prevented, lives that could be saved and injuries prevented in our commonwealth.” Emily Stein, President of Safe Roads Alliance urging passage of the bill banning the use of handheld devices while driving.

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 16-20, the House met for a total of 18 hours and 58 minutes while the Senate met for a total of 32 hours and 15 minutes.

Mon. July 16 House 11:00 a.m. to 5:01 p.m.

Senate 11:06 a.m. to 4:44 p.m.

Tues. July 17 House 11:04 a.m. to 4:47 p.m.

Senate 11:04 a.m. to 5:14 p.m.

Wed. July 19 House 11:02 a.m. to 5:56 p.m.

Senate 11:11 a.m. to 7:55 p.m.

Thurs. July 19 House 11:02 a.m. to 11:22 a.m.

Senate 11:05 a.m. to 10:48 p.m.

Fri. July 20 No House session

No Senate session

Bob Katzen welcomes feedback at

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