Beacon Hill Roll Call Volume 43 – Report No. 50 December 10-14, 2018

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 begins a series of reports on how local legislators voted on legislation that was approved in the 2017-2018 session by the House and Senate and signed into law by Gov. Charlie Baker. One vote was on the Legislature’s override of Baker’s veto.

House 159-0, Senate 36-0, approved $200 million in one-time funding for the maintenance and repair of local roads and bridges in cities and towns across the state. The package is a bond bill under which the funding would be borrowed by the state through the sale of bonds. The measure also authorizes $70 million for the completion of the ATLAS, the Registry of Motor Vehicles’ technology system that will replace an archaic system that is 30 years old and difficult to maintain and use.

(A “Yes” vote is for the bill.)

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

House 150-0, Senate 38-0, approved the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act that prohibits an employer from discriminating against, refusing to employ or firing a woman because she is pregnant or has a condition related to pregnancy.

The measure guarantees reasonable accommodations and safety measures for pregnant mothers. Reasonable accommodations include time off to recover from childbirth; more frequent, longer paid or unpaid breaks; acquiring or modifying equipment or seating arrangements; and a private non-bathroom space for expressing breast milk — unless any of these would create an undue hardship on the employer.

(A “Yes” vote is for the bill.)

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

House 136-11, Senate 32-6, approved a bill changing some provisions and adding other provisions to the law, approved by voters on the 2016 ballot, legalizing the possession, growing and sale of marijuana.

The measure taxes all marijuana sales with a 10.75 percent excise tax, 6.25 percent state sales tax and a local option allowing cities and towns to impose an additional tax of up to 3 percent. In addition, any agreement between a retail marijuana establishment and a host community for the first five years may include a community impact fee of up to another 3 percent paid by the seller to the city or town to cover the costs imposed upon the municipality by the operation of the establishment. Medical marijuana remains tax-free.

If a city or town voted for the 2016 marijuana ballot question, the decision to prohibit or restrict marijuana establishments will be determined by a local city or town-wide referendum.

If a city or town voted against the ballot question, the decision would be made by the municipality’s governing body until December 2019 and then by a local city or town-wide referendum.

Other key provisions of the new law include:

Allowing persons over 21 to give an ounce or less of marijuana to others; possess up to one ounce of marijuana outside their home and ten ounces in their home. Any quantity above one ounce in the home must be under lock and key.

Allowing each person to grow six plants per person in his or her home, with a maximum of 12 plants per household.

Prohibiting plants that can be visible by neighbors or from a public place and putting growing areas under lock and key.

Giving landlords the right to prohibit smoking or growing of marijuana on their properties.

Allowing advertising on TV, radio, billboard, print or the Internet only in markets where at least 85 percent of the audience is over 21.

Banning retail shops from being located near school zones.

(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 151-0, Senate 36-0, approved a bill that provides all state and municipal workers with the same protections provided to private workers under the federal Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA).

(A “Yes” vote is for the bill.)

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

House 139-14, Senate 38-0, approved a bill that would require health insurance companies to issue “Explanation of Benefits” (EOB) summaries only directly to the patient even if the patient is not the primary subscriber. Currently, most insurers send the forms to the primary subscriber, regardless of who the patient is.

(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 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.

(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 116-43, Senate 31-9, overrode Gov. Baker’s veto of an $18 million pay raise package including hiking the salaries of House speaker and Senate president, by $45,000 from $97,547 to $142,547. The measure also hikes the pay of the Legislature’s two Republican leaders, Sen. Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester) and Rep. Bradley Jones (R-North Reading) by $37,500 from $85,047 to $122,547. Another provision hikes the salaries of the state’s judges by $25,000 over an 18-month period.

The measure raises the governor’s salary by $33,200, from $151,800 to $185,000; and provides hikes for the other five constitutional officers. It also requires that every two years the salaries of the governor, the other five constitutional statewide officers and the House speaker and Senate president be increased or decreased based on data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) that measures the quarterly change in salaries and wages. It also requires that the same formula is used every two years to increase or decrease the stipends that more than 100 other legislators receive for their service in Democratic or Republican leadership positions, as committee chairs or vice chairs and as the ranking Republican on some committees. There is a caveat in all of these cases that the amount of money they receive can never be less than it was when it became law in February 2017.

The measure puts an end to legislative per diems which are travel, meals and lodging reimbursements collected by the legislators. These reimbursements are given to legislators above and beyond their regular salaries.

Another provision increases the annual general expense allowance for each legislator from $7,200 to $15,000 for members whose districts are within a 50-mile radius of the Statehouse and to $20,000 for districts located outside of that radius. This allowance is used at the discretion of individual legislators to support a variety of costs including the renting of a district office, contributions to local civic groups and the printing and mailing of newsletters. Legislators are issued a 1099 from the state and are required to report the allowance as income but are not required to submit an accounting of how they spend it.

The package also gives a $65,000 housing allowance for the governor. Massachusetts is one of only six states that supplies neither a governor’s residence nor a housing allowance, even as Boston is among the most expensive housing markets of any of the state capitals.

(A “Yes” vote is for overriding Gov. Baker’s veto and is for the pay raise. A “No” vote is against overriding the governor’s veto and is against the pay raise.)

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


JURY DUTY NOTICE (S 771) – Senate approved and sent to the House a bill that allows the Office of the Jury Commissioner to communicate with jurors through e-mail, texting, other electronic and telephonic ways and in-person exchanges. Current law requires the communication to be via the post office and was adopted many years ago when these other forms of communication did not exist.

“I was pleased to file this legislation at the suggestion of the Office of Jury Commissioner,” said the bill’s sponsor Sen. Will Brownsberger (D-Belmont). “This legislation will allow the Office of Jury Commissioner to embrace technological improvements, reduce costs and improve juror convenience.”

CONFIDENTIALITY OF MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES (S 2684) – The Senate approved and sent to the House a bill aimed at ensuring confidentiality for first responders who seek mental health services from a peer counselor. Current law does not guarantee confidentiality.

“These sensible confidentiality protections will allow our firefighters, paramedics and law enforcement officers to seek the help they need without fear of stigmatization,” said 22-year law enforcement official and the bill’s sponsor Sen. Michael Moore (D-Millbury “The recent loss of Worcester Firefighter Christopher Roy only further highlights the importance of ensuring that services are available to support those impacted by the loss of a colleague, friend and member of a department’s family.”

MUST HAVE TENANT ON ALL TOWNS’ HOUSING AUTHORITY BOARD (H 4981) – The Housing Committee held a hearing on a bill that would put some teeth into a 2014 law that requires all town housing authorities to have a tenant on the board. The regulations for appointing a tenant were never drafted. The Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) said that when they went to draft these regulations in 2016, the elections division of the Secretary of State’s office raised some concerns about DHCD promulgating these regulations and the regulations were never drafted. The pending bill sets out the requirements of the tenant appointment process.

The regulations require that tenant members be appointed by the Board of Selectmen from a list submitted by a recognized tenants’ organization in the town. The selectmen will select one person from this list and appoint him or her to the board. Failure to file the list within 60 days after a vacancy gives the town the power to appoint any tenant it chooses. If there is no tenants’ organization, the housing authority must notify tenants living in eligible households and provide them with instructions on how to submit their name to the town clerk for consideration by the Board of Selectmen.

“This bill represents the conclusion of two years of discussions among various stakeholders in the housing world,” said the bill’s sponsor Rep. Kevin Honan (D-Boston). “It is crucial for tenants to have a voice on their local housing authority boards, and we are pleased to see so many towns already have a tenant representative. It is our hope [the bill] will provide all towns with much-needed guidance to be able to comply with previously enacted state law. ”

REPORT ATTACKS BEACON HILL’S RECORD ON FUNDING PUBLIC COLLEGES -“Massachusetts has the fastest rising cost of public higher education in the nation,” according to a report released today by the New England Board of Higher Education. “These are the shameful results of decades of budget cuts on Beacon Hill that have shifted the cost of a public college education to students and families, especially those who can least afford to pay the fees.”

“We already knew Massachusetts had the second-fastest growth in student loan debt in the nation, and today’s results just add insult to injury,” said Zac Bears, executive director of the Public Higher Education Network Of Massachusetts (PHENOM). “Students and families are being saddled with massive student loan debt that will take them decades to pay off. It’s time to fund our public colleges and build a Debt Free Future for all.”


Nearly two-thirds of employees who report workplace sexual harassment face retaliation from their employers and 65 percent of employees who file sexual harassment complaints lose their jobs within a year, according to new research from the University of Massachusetts Amherst Center for Employment Equity (CEE).

“Employer’s Responses to Sexual Harassment” by co-authors Carly McCann, Donald Tomaskovic-Devey and M.V. Lee Badgett, analyzed over 46,000 harassment claims from 2012-2016.

“Sexual harassment, and perhaps discrimination of all types, should be addressed proactively and affirmatively by management, rather than leaving it to the targets of discrimination to pursue legal remedies as individuals,” said Badgett.

“Most employer responses tend to be harsh both via retaliation and firing employees who complain,” says Tomaskovic-Devey. “The very low proportion of employees who file sexual harassment complaints is very likely to be related to employers’ typically punitive responses.”

“Although they comprise 47 percent of the labor force, women file 81 percent of sexual harassment charges,” said McCann. “Black women, in particular, report a disproportionality large percentage of workplace sexual harassment charges. They account for 7 percent of the labor force but file 27 percent of sexual harassment charges.”

The full report can be found at:

QUOTABLE QUOTES – By the Numbers Edition

The Massachusetts Executive Office of Public Safety & Security came out with its Hate Crime in Massachusetts Report for 2017. The full report can be found at:

Here are some of the highlights:


The number of incidents of hate crimes in 2017 (up from 391 in 2016).

37.9 percent

The percent of hate crimes that were vandalism, damage or destruction of property. The second and third most common categories were intimidation at 29.7 percent and sexual orientation at 14.4 percent.

53.5 percent

The percentage of victims who were male. 46.5 percent were female.

53.9 percent

The percentage of hate crimes that were motivated by race, ethnicity or national origin. The second most common category was religious affiliation at 29.7 percent.

78.7 percent

The percentage of perpetrators of hate crimes who were white. The second most was African-Americans at 19.4 percent.

70.9 percent

The percentage of victims of hate crimes who were white. The second most was African-Americans at 24.6 percent.

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 December 10-14, the House met for a total of 52 minutes while the Senate met for a total of one hour.

Mon. December 10 House 11:04 a.m. to 11:39 a.m.
Senate 11:08 a.m. to 11:46 a.m.

Tues. December 11 No House session
No Senate session

Wed. December 12 No House session
No Senate session

Thurs. December 13 House 11:02 a.m. to 11:19 a.m.
Senate 11:00 a.m. to 11:22 a.m.

Fri. December 14 No House session
No Senate session

Bob Katzen welcomes feedback at

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