Beacon Hill Roll Call Volume 43 – Report No. 33 August 13-17, 2018

By Bob Katzen

THE HOUSE AND SENATE. Beacon Hill Roll Call records local senators and representatives’ votes on recent roll calls on overriding Gov. Charlie Baker’s vetoes of items in the $41.88 billion fiscal 2019 state budget.

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

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The Almanac should be subtitled “Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about State Government and its ‘Cast of Characters,’ And MORE!” It includes hundreds of pages of profiles of and key facts about thousands of people on Beacon Hill from Gov. Charlie Baker, his cabinet secretaries and other key executive branch officials to the state’s 200 legislators, judges, U.S. senators, congressmen, congresswomen and other key players who make decisions every day that affect your life. You’ll also have access to state senators and representatives’ key votes and each legislator’s rating by public policy groups (AKA lobbyists) including the Mass Fiscal Alliance, MASSPIRG, National Federation of Independent Businesses and Mass Audubon Society.

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House 127-23, Senate 32-5, overrode Gov. Charlie Baker’s veto reduction of $100,000 (from $200,000 to $100,000) in funding for the prevention and treatment of macular degeneration at Schepens Eye Research Institute and $50,000 (from $100,000 to $50,000) in funding for education and support of patients diagnosed with phenylketonuria (PKU) and their families at the New England Connection for PKU and Allied Disorders.

Macular degeneration is an incurable eye disease that affects more than 10 million Americans and is the leading cause of blindness for people aged 55 and older. The cause of macular degeneration is not conclusively known.

PKU is a rare, inherited condition that affects about one in every 14,000 babies born in the United States. PKU prevents a victim’s body from metabolizing phenylalanine — one of the amino acids that are joined together to form proteins. “When the infant or adult is untreated or poorly treated, phenylalanine rises to high levels in the blood and can damage the brain by causing mental retardation, seizures, learning disabilities and emotional problems,” according to the New England Connection for PKU and Allied Disorders website.

Supporters of spending the funds said the funding is important to these groups and that it may lead to a cure and a way to prevent these diseases.

In his veto message, Baker said he struck language which earmarks funding for programs not recommended.

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

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


House 126-24, Senate 29-8, overrode Gov. Baker’s $500,000 veto reduction (from $5.5 million to $5 million) in funding for the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University in North Grafton. Some of the funds would be used to support bioterrorism prevention by studying diseases that can be transmitted from animals to humans.

Supporters of spending the $500,000 said that the funding is important to Cummings and its four-year academic programs which offer a degree in veterinary medicine. They noted that the school conducts groundbreaking research that benefits animals and people and also has hospitals that treat an estimated 28,000 animals annually ranging from cats and dogs to pet rabbits, parrots, iguanas and fish.

In his veto message, Baker said that he reduced the funding to an amount projected to be necessary. Some opponents questioned whether the state should be providing millions of dollars to a private university.

(A “Yes” vote is for spending the $500,000. A “No” vote is against it.)

Rep. Christine Barber Yes Rep. Mike Connolly Yes Rep. Denise Provost No Sen. Patricia Jehlen Yes


House 123-26, Senate 35-1, overrode Gov. Baker’s $150,000 million veto reduction (from $300,000 to $150,000) in funding for the Forsyth Institute’s Center for Children’s Oral Health to expand the Forsyth Kids program focused on children and adolescents and to study the emerging association between oral health status and academic performance.

“The program brings preventive dental care to Massachusetts children of all ages at schools, day care centers, neighborhood facilities, summer camps and public events,” according to Forsyth’s website. “For more than a decade, Forsyth Kids has helped tens of thousands of children throughout Massachusetts receive preventive dental care.”

Supporters of spending the $150,000 said that tooth decay is the most common childhood disease in the U.S. and noted that dental disease can lead to long-term health problems, pain, lack of focus in school, eating and speaking problems and low self-esteem.

In his veto message, Baker said that he reduced the funding to an amount projected to be necessary.

(A “Yes” vote is for spending the $150,000. A “No” vote is against it.)

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

$250,000 FOR STROKE PROGRAMS (H 4800)

House 149-0, Senate 31-5 overrode Gov. Baker’s $250,000 veto reduction (from $500,000 to $250,000) for stroke treatment and prevention programs including a $100,000 reduction in funding to educate the public on the signs and symptoms of stroke with a focus on communities that have the highest incidence of stroke.

Baker also reduced by $100,000 funding to require all primary stroke service hospitals and emergency medical services’ agencies to report data consistent with nationally recognized guidelines on the treatment of individuals with strokes; and reduced by $50,000 the funding to oversee the operation and administration of designated primary stroke service hospital programs that meet strict guidelines for treating individuals with stroke symptoms.

Supporters of spending the $250,000 said these programs can help prevent strokes and save lives.

In his veto message, Baker said that he reduced the funding to an amount projected to be necessary.

(A “Yes” vote is for spending the $250,000. A “No” vote is against it.)

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


MBTA BUSES WOULD HONOR ROSA PARKS EVERY FEBRUARY – The House approved a Senate-approved bill that would require all MBTA buses to annually honor Rosa Parks on their LED display or on a decal in the front left window during Black History Month of February.

In 1955 in Montgomery, Alabama, Parks refused to move to the back of the bus and give up her seat to a white passenger. Her refusal led to the Montgomery Bus Boycott, the integration of public transportation in Montgomery and the modern civil rights movement. She was jailed for refusing to give up her seat and lost her job for participating in the boycott.

Additional approval is necessary in each branch prior to the measure going to Gov. Baker.

ALZHEIMER’S (H 4817) – Gov. Baker signed into law a bill requiring the Executive Office of Health and Human Services to conduct an assessment of all state programs that address Alzheimer’s disease and to create and maintain an integrated state plan to address and assist in the treatment of Alzheimer’s. The ceremonial signing took place during an event at the Alzheimer’s Association in Waltham.

Other provisions require that all protective service caseworkers receive training on recognizing signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s; require that all doctors, physician’s assistants and nurses who serve adult populations complete a one-time course of training on diagnosis, treatment and care of people with Alzheimer’s; require hospitals to create and implement an operational plan for the recognition of patients with Alzheimer’s and dementia and treatment for those patients; and require physicians to report an initial diagnosis of Alzheimer’s to a member of a patient’s family (or a personal representative) and provide the family with information about understanding the diagnosis, creating care plans, and accessing medical and non-medical treatment options.

“Today marks the final step in Massachusetts’ journey towards reversing the course of the public health crisis that is Alzheimer’s disease,” said Rep. Danielle Gregoire (D-Marlborough), House Chair of the Committee on Elder Affairs. “I am so proud that Massachusetts will lead the country yet again with this comprehensive legislation that addresses not only those suffering from this disease but also their caregivers and healthcare providers.”

“Almost everyone we meet these days has a personal connection to Alzheimer’s as thousands of seniors and younger adults suffer from the disease across our commonwealth,” said Sen. Barbara L’Italien (D-Andover), whose late mother Claire Sullivan L’Italien died from Alzheimer’s last April. “For me it was my mom, who lived in our home with us for seven of the last ten years of her life as she struggled with Alzheimer’s. Navigating her diagnosis and care taught me just how difficult it can be even for the most informed families …Today, we are making Massachusetts a national leader for those families.”

OPIOIDS (H 4866) – In another ceremonial signing, Gov. Baker signed a bill aimed at combatting the opioid problem in the Bay State by addressing opioid addiction, prevention and treatment.

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 healthcare providers for persons over the age of 17 experiencing chronic pain; establishes a community-based behavioral health promotion and prevention trust fund to promote positive mental, emotional and behavioral health among children and young adults and to prevent substance use disorders among children and young adults; and establishes a center for police training in crisis intervention to serve as a clearinghouse for best practices in police response to people with mental illness and substance use disorders.

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 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.”

“With this legislation, Massachusetts continues its national leadership in combatting the disease of addiction and the opioid epidemic,” said Rep. Denis Garlick (D-Needham), House Chair of the Committee on Mental Health, Substance Use and Recovery. “It lays the foundation for a 21st-century behavioral health system and puts in place strong prevention measures that will help stop this crisis from spreading to future generations and strengthens the provider’s abilities to expand treatment to help individuals, families and communities that are struggling with this disease.”

REFRESHER COURSE ON OPEN MEETING LAW – Attorney General Maura Healey announced that her office will hold five in-person and two online free training sessions on the Open Meeting Law in September and October. Healey’s office said the training sessions are part of a broad effort by the AG’s Office to assist government officials and members of the public to understand and comply with law.

All local and state public bodies are required to follow the open meeting law, which requires that most meetings be open to the public and sets the rules for communication between board members and public notice of meetings.

For a list of all the dates and locations, go to:

QUOTABLE QUOTES – By the Numbers Edition.

$7 million

The amount Massachusetts teachers earned hosting short-term rentals through Airbnb in 2017.

9.5 percent

The return on investment for the state’s $72 billion pension investment fund in fiscal 2018.


The number of opioid-related deaths in the Bay State in 2017.


The ranking of Massachusetts General Hospital on the U.S. News and World Report’s latest ranking of the best hospitals in America.


As of August 16, the number of days left until the 2018 General Election.


Number of Green Party statewide candidates that will appear on the November ballot. (Secretary of State, Auditor and Treasurer)

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 13-17, the House met for a total of 43 minutes while the Senate met for a total of 46 minutes.

Mon. August 13 House 11:05 a.m. to 11:18 a.m.

Senate 11:02 a.m. to 11:19 a.m.

Tues. August 14 No House session.

No Senate session

Wed. August 15 No House session.

No Senate session

Thurs. August 16 House 11:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

Senate 11:07 a.m. to 11:36 a.m.

Fri. August 17 No House session

No Senate session

Bob Katzen welcomes feedback at

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