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 how often local representatives voted with their party’s leadership.
The votes of the 2018 membership of 34 Republicans were compared with those of GOP House Minority Leader Bradley Jones (R-North Reading). The votes of the 2018 membership of 117 Democrats were compared to House Speaker Robert DeLeo (D-Winthrop). Beacon Hill Roll Call uses 162 votes from the 2018 House session as the basis for this report. This includes all roll calls that were not quorum calls or votes on local issues.
A total of 76 (64.9 percent) of the 117 Democrats voted with DeLeo 100 percent of the time. That means that nearly two-thirds of the Democrats always voted with DeLeo.
The Democratic representatives who voted the lowest percentage of times with DeLeo is Rep. Colleen Garry (D-Dracut) who voted with DeLeo 141 times (87 percent of the time). No Democrat voted with the speaker less than 87 percent of the time.
None of the 34 GOP members voted with Jones 100 percent of the time. The GOP representative who voted with Jones the most times was Rep. Brad Hill (R-Ipswich) who voted with him 97.5 percent of the time.
The representative who voted with Jones the lowest percentage of times was Rep. Brian Durant (R-Spencer) who voted with Jones only 79.0 percent of the time.
PERCENTAGE OF TIMES REPRESENTATIVES VOTED WITH THEIR PARTY’S LEADERSHIP IN 2018
The percentage next to the representative’s name represents the percentage of times the representative supported his or her party’s leadership.
The number in parentheses represents the number of times the representative opposed his or her party’s leadership.
Some representatives voted on all 162 roll call votes. Others missed one or more of the 162 votes. The percentage for each representative is calculated based on the number of roll calls on which he or she voted and does not count the roll calls for which he or she was absent.
Rep. Christine Barber 99.3 percent (1) Rep. Mike Connolly 96.2 percent (6) Rep. Denise Provost 94.3 percent (9)
ALSO UP ON BEACON HILL
SPECIAL LICENSE PLATE FOR SURVIVORS OF POLICE AND FIREFIGHTERS (H 2762) – The House approved and sent to the Senate a bill creating a new vehicle license plate available at no cost to for spouses, parents, children, siblings and grandchild of police and firefighters who have died in the line of duty. The plate would bear a red star or blue star or a design approved by the registrar.
ANIMAL PROTECTION (S 2646) – Gov. Charlie Baker and animal rights activists and supporters joined together for a ceremonial signing of legislation designed to protect cats and dogs. The new law will take effect on November 17.
Provisions double the hit and run penalty for an accident involving cats and dogs; permit animal abuse to be reported by Department of Children and Families, the Department of Elder Affairs and Disabled Persons Protection Commission employees; add animal control officers as mandatory reporters of child abuse, elder abuse and abuse against disabled persons; and increase penalties associated with operating a kennel without a proper license.
Other provisions require property owners and landlords to check their property for abandoned animals within three days following a foreclosure or termination of tenancy; prohibit the drowning of animals for euthanasia; and remove the automatic killing of animals involved in animal fighting and instead provides that animals be evaluated individually for adoption if appropriate.
“My passion for animal rights grew only more so when on August 13, 2013, Kiya, better known as Puppy Doe, was discovered lying in a street,” said Rep. Louis Kafka. (D-Sharon). “At only 18 pounds she was clearly suffering from starvation, as well as, broken bones, burns, dislocated joints, a split tongue, and a stabbed eye. As a result, the Legislature passed … [a law] to protect animals from this kind of atrocity. Building on what we have already accomplished, I am pleased that the legislature has once again stepped up protections for animals with the passage of … [this new law].”
“This is one of the most important steps Massachusetts has taken in years to systematically protect pets and wild animals against abuse, cruelty, and mistreatment,” said Senate President Karen Spilka (D-Ashland). “As a longtime advocate for the rights of animals and those who own them responsibly, I’m proud and relieved to see this language signed into law.”
PROHIBIT PRISONERS FROM WORKING OUT-OF-STATE (H 3034) – Stuck in the Senate Ways and Means Committee since the House approved it 120-35 on May 24, 2017 is a bill that would prohibit prisoners in Massachusetts from working out of state.
This controversy was started back in January 2017 by Bristol County Sheriff Thomas Hodgson who said that he would like to help the Trump Administration by sending inmates from the Bristol County House of Correction to the south to help with the construction a U.S. – Mexico border wall.
Supporters say these prisoners should remain in Massachusetts and cite the success of inmates’ work in Bay State communities including the one in Bristol County which has saved taxpayers $1.3 million annually. They note that current law might be designed to ban this practice, but it is vague and needs to be clarified by this bill.
Opponents say current law already prohibits this practice. They questioned why the Legislature is working on a solution in search of a problem.
HIDE IDENTITY OF LOTTERY WINNERS (S 139) – Stuck in the Senate Rules Committee since August 3, 2017 after the Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure Committee gave it a favorable report, is a bill that would allow Lottery winners to refuse to have their name, address or other identifying information be released to the public. The measure also allows winners to forego all public appearances related to his or her winning the Lottery including the one at which the winner is given an oversized check to hold at Lottery Headquarters.
Current state law requires Lottery winners to comply with all of the above conditions. It also allows winners to place their winnings in a trust, but the name of the trustee and the beneficiaries are public record, so the trust does not really shield the winner.
Delaware, Kansas, Maryland, North Dakota, Ohio and South Carolina are among the states that currently allow Lottery winners to remain anonymous.
Only a small minority of states, including Delaware, Kansas, Maryland, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota and Texas, currently allow Lottery winners to remain anonymous.
OFF TO A STUDY COMMITTEE -The following measures met their fate when they were sent to a study committee where bills are rarely actually studied and are essentially defeated.
ADOPT AN EMBRYO (H 788) – Allows adults to petition the probate court for the adoption of an embryo.
Embryos are often left over from in vitro fertilization attempts to help couples have children. The couples would have the option of freezing the embryos and then donating them to other couples, giving them to scientists for embryonic stem-cell research or destroying them.
Supporters say the bill would protect couples who receive the embryos by ensuring that they legally adopt the embryos and cannot be challenged at a later date.
Opponents say that the bill is unnecessary because nearly all infertility clinics already offer couples the option of donating their leftover embryos to other couples. They say that that this “adopt an embryo” term is supported by right to life groups to promote the belief that frozen embryos are the equivalent of children.
TAX COLLEGE ENDOWMENTS (H 1617) – Imposes an excise tax on private universities that have an endowment fund in excess of $1 billion. The tax would be 2.5 percent of the institution’s funds that exceed $1 billion. The bill earmarks the revenue for subsidizing the cost of higher education, early education and childcare for lower-income and middle-class residents. Current state law exempts nonprofit institutions, including universities, from paying property taxes.
Supporters of the tax say it could raise millions of dollars and noted it is unfair that these schools are not paying taxes on these huge endowments. They note that these institutions operate like large wealthy corporations and enjoy many of the advantages and benefits the state provides.
Some opponents say that many schools already pay their host communities millions of dollars under the voluntary Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) program that encourages institutions to provide money to their host communities through a wide variety of ways ranging from outright cash payments to scholarships for local students. Others say the tax is unconstitutional and could hurt the Bay State’s image as the leader in higher education. Some expressed concern that the funds, although “earmarked” for these educational purposes might end up in the General Fund.
RAPISTS AND PARENTAL RIGHTS (S 832) – Takes away the parental rights of convicted rapists. The measure prohibits convicted rapists from getting custody of or obtaining visitation rights to see the child born from the rape. It also allows the courts, despite this termination of rights, to require that the perpetrator of the rape pay child support.
NO PARENTAL RIGHTS FOR MURDERERS (H 2285) – Removes a child from the custody of his or her parent who is convicted of murdering the child’s other parent.
The measure provides a few exemptions including allowing custody by the convicted parent if the child requests it and the court determines that the child is mature enough to make that decision. Another exemption allows custody if the convicted parent suffered from physical, sexual or psychological abuse from the murdered parent.
QUOTABLE QUOTES – By the Numbers Edition – From a study by the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center om health care coverage in Massachusetts.
The percent of Massachusetts residents covered by health insurance.
The percent of U.S. residents covered by health insurance.
The percent of Massachusetts residents without health insurance.
The percent of black Massachusetts residents without health insurance.
The percent of Latino Massachusetts residents without health insurance.
The decrease in the number of Massachusetts residents with health insurance between 2016 and 2017.
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 24-28, the House met for a total of xxx hour and xx minutes while the Senate met for a total of three hours and 29 minutes.
Mon. Sept. 24 House 11:03 a.m. to 11:18 a.m.
Senate 11:00 a.m. to 12:06 p.m.
Tues. Sept. 25 No House session
No Senate session
Wed. Sept. 26 No House session
No Senate session
Thurs. Sept. 27 House 11:12 a.m. to 2:26 p.m.
Senate 11:10 a.m. to 11:35 a.m.
Fri. Sept. 28 No House session
No Senate session
Bob Katzen welcomes feedback at email@example.com