Beacon Hill Roll Call Volume 43 – Report No. 34 August 20-24, 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.

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House 141-8, Senate 37-0 overrode Gov. Baker’s $2 million veto reduction (from $16 million to $14 million) in funding for the Mass Cultural Council. According to its website, the council is “ state agency that promotes excellence, inclusion, education and diversity in the arts, humanities, and sciences to foster a rich cultural life for all Massachusetts residents and contributes to the vitality of our communities and economy.”

“This is a strong endorsement of the work of the cultural community,” said Anita Walker, Mass Cultural Council Executive Director. “We will put these funds to work to strengthen our creative economy, provide more opportunities for young people, and expand access to our rich cultural life for all.”

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

(A “Yes” vote is for spending the $2 million. A “No” vote is against spending it.)

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


House 149-1, Senate 32-4, overrode Gov. Baker’s $1.2 million veto reduction (from $282.6 million to 281.4 million) in funding for the Massachusetts State Police to mostly fund additional state police patrols at various locations across the state.

Override supporters said these funds are needed in various

cities and towns across the state to help protect public safety.

In his veto message, the governor said that he is striking language which earmarks funding for programs not recommended.

(A “Yes” vote is for spending the $1.2 million A “Nay” vote is against spending it).

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


House 149-1, Senate 36-1, overrode Gov. Baker’s $3.9 million veto reduction (from $27.3 million to $23.4 million) in funding for fire departments across the state.

Override supporters said that these projects range from $1.2 for a student awareness fire education program and $400,000 for critical incident stress management services designed to provide support for firefighters who have experienced work-related traumatic events, to $50,000 for the purchase of a battery operated ‘Jaws of Life’ for the Saugus Fire Department and $500,000 for the hazardous materials response team in Cambridge.

In his veto message, the governor said that he is striking language which earmarks funding for programs not recommended.

(A “Yes” vote is for spending the $3.9 million A “Nay” vote is against spending it).

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


SCHOOL SAFETY – A group including Education Secretary James Peyser, Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders, Public Safety and Security Secretary Daniel Bennett, and Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Jeff Riley joined Gov. Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito at a School Safety Roundtable to discuss Baker’s recently-filed $72 million School Safety Package. Mental health experts, police chiefs and school superintendents joined the discussion.

The proposal includes training of first responders to better handle threats within schools; $40 million in additional aid to school districts to hire social workers, mental health counselors and psychologists; $20 million in matching state grants for security and communications upgrades in K-12 schools and public colleges and universities, the training of first responders; $2.4 million to create a tip line to provide public safety and school personnel with timely information on potential risks; $2 million for a statewide “Say Something” campaign; and $500,000 to create a school safety website.

“These proposals will allow schools to hire additional mental health professionals to increase support for our students, while also making important security upgrades.” said Baker. “We look forward to working with the Legislature to enact this package to make the commonwealth’s schools safer.

“The sad reality is that we have to think about protecting our students and teachers from the threat of gun violence in the classroom,” said Education Secretary James Peyser. “By strengthening student supports, as well as upgrading security measures and training for school personnel, we hope to reduce the possibility that we could experience a tragedy like other communities across the country have suffered.”

SEAT BELT USE INCREASES IN BAY SATE – The Baker Administration announced today that seat belt use in Massachusetts rose by nearly 8 percent (from 73.7 percent to 81.6 percent) from 2017 to 2018. The study was conducted by the University of Massachusetts Traffic Safety Research Program. The survey estimates 115 lives were saved by seat belts in Massachusetts in 2016, but 45 additional lives would have saved at a use rate of 100 percent.

“Our enforcement and education efforts are clearly paying off, but we need to do even better,” said Jennifer Queally, Undersecretary for Law Enforcement at the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security. “Increasing seat belt use saves lives. Research shows that your chance of surviving a crash rises significantly if you’re buckled up.”

“Troopers enforce the seatbelt law whenever possible,” Colonel Kerry A. Gilpin, Superintendent of the Massachusetts State Police, said. “But there is much more at stake for motorists than an extra fine. The five seconds it takes to buckle up could end up being the most important five seconds of your life or the life of someone you love.”

Legislation that would make the seat belt law a “primary enforcement” one, allowing police officers to stop and issue $25 tickets to drivers and passengers solely for not wearing their seat belts has been filed in the Bay State annually for many years. It never makes it all the way through the legislative process.

Current law is a “secondary enforcement” one that prohibits drivers from being stopped solely for not wearing a seat belt and allows an officer to issue a ticket only if the driver is stopped for another motor vehicle violation or some other offense.

“We warned in both of our campaigns to repeal the state’s mandatory seat belt law that creeping incrementalism would inevitably impose primary enforcement,” said Chip Ford, Executive Director of Citizens for Limited Taxation. Ford was the leader of The Committee to Repeal the Mandatory Seat Belt Law, the group that succeeded in a ballot campaign that repealed the original seat belt law passed in 1985 and then reimposed in 1994. “The law’s advocates of course vehemently denied any such intent. Most surprising is that it hasn’t been imposed yet, but despite assurances to the contrary, sooner or later it will be. Incrementalism demands it.”

BAN ELEPHANTS AND EXOTIC ANIMALS FROM CIRCUSES – Legislation that would ban elephant acts from being used in traveling circuses and other shows in Massachusetts (H 418) is stuck in the House Ways and Means Committee where it has been since it received a favorable report from the Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture almost a year ago on October 17. Violators would be fined between $500 and $10,000.

A broader bill (S 490) that would prohibit performances by any wild and exotic animals and impose up to a $5,000 fine on violators was sent off to a study committee. Most measures that are shipped off to a study committee are never actually studied and are essentially defeated Exotic animals, include zebras, camels, llamas, crocodiles, ostriches and many others.

Supporters say that these beautiful animals should not have to endure abuse and neglect in order to entertain people. They argue the treatment and harsh training of elephants is cruel and breaks their spirit while also causing them to become aggressive.

Opponents say the abuse of any animal should never be tolerated but noted that these types of animals are rarely secure in their natural habitat. Eugene Cassidy, president and CEO of the Eastern States has said that the aim of these bills to prohibit the exhibition of properly cared for and humanely trained animals does not prevent abuse, but rather unnecessarily restricts the ability of the public to view elephants at shows throughout the commonwealth.”


“The Registry of Motor Vehicles [RMV] is committed to providing efficient, reliable, and professional customer service. The RMV recommends that customers ‘Start Online First’ to review the 40 transactions and services that are available online before visiting a service center. In addition, many RMV transactions can be done at a AAA Northeast customer location for AAA members.”

From an RMV press release.

“Our Last Mile leadership team has made significant progress in accelerating local projects in our unserved and underserved communities, and their impressive efforts have led to real results. Now, nearly all of our last mile communities have a plan in place to increase broadband access for homes, and businesses. This means more residents will have access to reliable, high-speed internet, a necessity in today’s increasingly connected world.”

Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito on a visit to Westfield Gas and Electric, a public utility helping several Western Massachusetts communities build municipal-owned broadband networks that will allows high-speed internet connectivity for many residents.

“We’re getting closer. We have to issue final licenses, obviously, to retailers and to the labs because nothing can be sold unless their products are tested by a lab licensed by us. We have to do the final inspections required to do that.”

Cannabis Control Commission Chairman Steven Hoffman on the licensing two testing labs that currently test and analyze medical marijuana for the state’s marijuana program to do the testing for the recreational marijuana market which is not allowed

to sell non-medical marijuana until the tests are completed.

“Because of this loophole, drug traffickers are able to make small changes to the chemical makeup of fentanyl — an extremely deadly opioid more powerful than heroin — that allow them to evade federal law. All fentanyl by-products should be classified as illegal the moment they’re manufactured.”

Attorney General Maura Healey joining 50 state attorneys general in asking Congress to help combat the opioid epidemic and close the federal fentanyl loophole.

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 20-24, the House met for a total of 12 minutes while the Senate met for a total of 24 minutes.

Mon. August 20 House 11:03 a.m. to 11:08 a.m.

Senate 11:02 a.m. to 11:09 a.m.

Tues. August 21 No House session.

No Senate session

Wed. August 22 No House session.

No Senate session

Thurs. August 23 House 11:04 a.m. to 11:11 a.m.

Senate 11:17 a.m. to 11:34 a.m.

Fri. August 24 No House session

No Senate session

Bob Katzen welcomes feedback at

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