By Bob Katzen
THE HOUSE AND SENATE: There were no roll calls in the House or Senate last week.
This week, Beacon Hill Roll Call reports on the number of times each senator sided with Republican Gov. Charlie Baker on his 48 vetoes of items, mostly in the fiscal 2019 state budget, in the 2018 session.
A two-thirds vote is required to override a gubernatorial veto in a full 40-member Senate when there are no vacancies. The governor needed the support of 14 senators to sustain a veto if all 40 senators voted — and fewer votes if some members were absent or there were vacancies.
Baker fell far short of that goal as eight votes was the most support he received on any veto. The Senate easily overrode all 48 vetoes, including five that were overridden unanimously.
The vetoes had little support among Democrats in the Senate. Only one of the chamber’s 31 Democrats voted with Baker to sustain any vetoes while the other 30 did not support the governor even once. The only Democratic senator who supported Baker was Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz (D-Boston), who supported him 31 times (64.5 percent of the time).
“I voted against overriding vetoes in the budget that would have reinstituted earmarks, which I have a long-standing policy of opposing,” Chang-Diaz told Beacon Hill Roll Call. “While some earmarks benefit wonderful organizations, overall I believe earmarking hurts our ability to plan long-term fiscal policy and undermines opportunities for fair, transparent, rigorous allocation of taxpayers’ dollars. I find other ways to go to bat for great organizations and causes.”
None of the Republicans voted with Baker 100 percent of the time.
The Republican senator who voted the greatest number of times with Baker was Sen. Vinny deMacedo (R-Plymouth): 23 times (47.9 percent of the time).
The GOP senator who voted with Baker the least number of times was Sen. Dean Tran (R-Leominster): 6 times (12.5 percent of the time).
PERCENTAGE OF TIMES LOCAL SENATORS SUPPORTED GOV. BAKER’S VETOES IN 2018
Here is how your senator fared in his or her support of Baker on the 48 vetoes.
The percentage next to the senator’s name represents the percentage of times the senator supported Baker. The number in parentheses represents the actual number of times the senator supported Baker.
Some senators voted on all 48 roll call votes. Others missed one or more of the 48 votes. Each record is based on the number of roll calls on which a senator voted and does not count the roll calls for which he or she was absent.
Sen. Patricia Jehlen 0 percent (0)
ALSO UP ON BEACON HILL
ILLEGAL EMPLOYEES (S 1012) – A proposal making it illegal for an employer to knowingly falsify employment or citizenship documents of any worker was sent to a study committee by the Labor and Workforce Development.
Under the bill, violators would be sentenced to up to 30 days in prison and/or a $1,000 fine for a first offense; up to three months in prison and/or up to a $2,500 fine for a second offense; and up to six months in prison and/or 5,000 for a third offense.
Most measures that are shipped off to a study committee are never actually studied and are essentially defeated.
BAN SHADOWS (H 2129) – The Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture shipped off to a study committee a bill that would prohibit the construction of any new building that would cast a new shadow in Boston on the Charles River Esplanade, Christopher Columbus Park, Commonwealth Avenue Mall, Copley Square Park, Magazine Beach Park or the Back Bay Fens.
Supporters say some new construction would cast shadows on many Boston parks and interfere with enjoyment by people who have scarce open space while benefiting a few wealthy property owners and developers.
INCREASE TAX BREAK FOR VETERANS (H 1602) – Stuck in The House Bills in Third Reading Committee since the House first gave it initial approval on May 10, 2017 is legislation that makes a change in the current law that allows cities and towns to establish a program permitting veterans to volunteer their services to the community in exchange for up to a $1,000 property tax reduction. The proposal raises the reduction to $1,500.
ALLOW BUSINESSES TO OPT INTO “DO NOT CALL” LIST (H 137) – Stuck in The House Bills in Third Reading Committee since the House first gave it initial approval on June 21, 2017 is legislation that would restrict telemarketing companies doing business in the state by allowing businesses to sign up for a “do not call” list and fining companies up to $5,000 if they call a business on the list. Current law only allows individual consumers to sign up for the list.
Under the bill, all current laws that now apply to individuals would also apply to businesses including allowing a business on the list to sue a company for up to $5,000 if the company violates the law and calls the business more than once a year; preventing companies from blocking their number from appearing on any business’ Caller ID box; prohibiting companies from using recorded message devices to make these calls; and restricting these calls to between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.
Supporters say this long overdue bill would finally allow businesses to put a stop to these annoying invasions. They argued the system has worked well for consumers and will be a success for businesses.
TAX BREAK FOR BUSINESSES NEGATIVELY IMPACTED (H 3352) – On September 27, 2017, the House approved and sent to the Senate legislation that would allow local cities and towns to reduce by up to 50 percent the property tax on any business that can prove that it was negatively affected by a public works or municipal utility company project. The Senate never acted on the measure and it is still stuck in the Senate Committee on Ways and Means.
Supporters say currently cities and towns can provide a tax break for new or expanding businesses but can offer no relief to a business that is losing customers and money because of things like a multi-year bridge project nearby.
RIGHT TO CHARGE (H 4069) – The House and Senate have approved a bill that would prohibit a condo association from unreasonably restricting an owner from installing an electric vehicle charging station in a deeded parking space or any area where the person has exclusive use.
Supporters said the bill would reduce greenhouse gas emissions and pollution. They noted the measure includes safeguards which allow associations to impose reasonable restrictions, such as installation requirements and safety standards, or to institute an application process.
“Boston residents, more than ever, want to contribute toward reducing carbon emissions and transitioning our city toward environmentally-friendly transportation,” said the bill’s sponsor Rep. Adrian Madaro (D-East Boston). “I’m proud to have sponsored H 4069, which guarantees the Right to Charge and expands access to electric vehicle charging infrastructure across the city.”
“We’re not lagging behind, but we really have nothing to brag about. In fact, our great problem is that we are too self-congratulatory around the single issue of energy efficiency. Doing well in terms of one method doesn’t bring us where we need to be. The conversation here [in California] is all about addressing emissions from the transportation sector, where Massachusetts’ current role is an embarrassment.”
Sen. Mike Barrett (D-Lexington), in an interview with the State House News Service, from the Global Climate Action Summit in California.
“So far the members seem to be very energetic in their support.”
House Speaker Bob DeLeo on how his fellow representatives feel about his plans to run for speaker for the upcoming 2019-2020 session. DeLeo, who began his run as speaker in January 2009, is already the longest continuously-serving House speaker in state history.
“Since Congress has refused to act on the security aspects of immigration reform — and thus done nothing to stop the flow of drugs into our neighborhoods, to stop children from being exploited by sex and human traffickers, nor to stop transnational gangs from terrorizing our schools and communities — America’s Sheriffs have decided to come together and take the safety of our citizens into our own hands. We will not sit by while our neighborhoods get more dangerous and the people we’ve sworn to protect face greater risk.”
Bristol County Sheriff Tom Hodgson and a group of 43 sheriffs from 35 states announcing their new crowdfunding website – www.SheriffsWall.org – to raise money for the federal government funding and construction of a wall along the U. S. southern border.
“Hate-filled rhetoric says this law will make our women and girls less safe. Since these protections were passed in 2016, there has been zero increase of public safety incidents in restrooms in our state.”
Boston City Councilor Ayanna Pressley on the city council’s passage of resolutions urging voters to vote yes on Question 3 on the November ballot asking voters if they want to retain the 2016 transgender anti-discrimination law.
“[The law is a] coercive and punitive measure which imposes sanctions on citizens who refuse to participate in the lie that persons can, through some subjective process, change their gender … The Boston City Council has demonstrated, once again, that it prefers pandering to policy making.”
Catholic Action League Executive Director C. J. Doyle on passage of the resolutions.
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 September 17-21, the House met for a total of one hour and 11 minutes while the Senate met for a total of one hour and 17 minutes.
Mon. Sept. 17 House 11:01 a.m. to 11:23 a.m.
Senate 11:16 a.m. to 11:43 a.m.
Tues. Sept. 18 No House session
No Senate session
Wed. Sept. 19 No House session
No Senate session
Thurs. Sept. 20 House 11:02 a.m. to 11:51 a.m.
Senate 11:06 a.m. to 11:56 a.m.
Fri. Sept. 21 No House session
No Senate session
Bob Katzen welcomes feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org