Beacon Hill Roll Call Volume 43 -Report No. 51 December 17-21, 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 continues 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

House 158-0, Senate 37-0, approved legislation cracking down on the misuse of handicapped parking placards including increasing the period of license suspension for wrongful use or display of a placard from 30 to 60 days for a first offense and from 90 to 120 days for a second offense.

Other provisions include allowing the Registry of Motor Vehicles to revoke a handicapped plate or parking placard if it finds that the person was ineligible or that a placard was obtained falsely; prohibiting the obstruction of the expiration date or placard number and subjecting an offender to a $50 fine; prohibiting making a false statement on an application for a placard and imposing a fine of $500 for a first offense and $1,000 for subsequent offenses; and prohibiting falsely making, stealing or forging a placard and subjecting an offender to escalating fines or imprisonment based upon the number of documents involved.

(A “Yes” vote is for the bill.)

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

House 155-1, Senate 37-0, approved a bill that would give public school districts the power and flexibility to offer other English Language Learner (ELL) programs in addition to or instead of the current sheltered English immersion program. The prior immersion program, approved by Massachusetts voters on a ballot question in 2002, requires all students, including those not yet fluent in English, to be taught English by being taught all subjects in English and to be placed in English language classrooms.

(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 151-2, Senate 38-0, approved a package funding various state programs to construct and preserve affordable housing in the Bay State.

Provisions include $400 million for the Affordable Housing Trust Fund that funds a myriad of programs including help for first-time homebuyers; $100 million for the creation of rental housing that is affordable for working families whose incomes are too high for subsidized housing but are priced out of market rents; $600 million to rehabilitate and modernize existing public housing; $60 million for disabled persons and seniors to renovate and modify their homes; and $45 million for grants to non-profits for early education and out-of-school time program facilities that serve low income children.

(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 149-3, Senate 33-5, approved a package that would authorize $462 million in bonds for the Massachusetts Life Sciences Investment Fund with an emphasis on capital grants to increase diversity and opportunity in the Bay State life sciences and biotech industries.

Other provisions require that half of the consolidated net surplus in budgetary funds, up to $10 million, be directed to the Massachusetts Life Sciences Investment Fund; raise the annual ceiling on the Life Sciences Tax Incentive Program from $25 million to $30 million; require that funding and internship consideration be given to support minority populations in the life sciences industry; and extend the Life Sciences Tax Incentive Program through 2028. The incentive was due to expire at the end of 2018.

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

Rep. Christine Barber Didn’t Vote Rep. Mike Connolly Yes Rep. Denise Provost Yes Sen. Patricia Jehlen No


STATE MILITARY JUSTICE (S 2611) – The House approved a Senate-approved bill that creates a state-specific code of conduct for National Guard members while doing their job in Massachusetts. When guard members are in federal service, they are subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice but when in the state there is no Code of Military Justice governing their conduct.

“This makes Massachusetts an outlier among our fellow states,” said Gov. Charlie Baker, who filed the original bill. “We are one of only a handful of states that do not have a state Code of Military Justice. It
also creates a situation in which people may be treated unequally based on whether they are serving in a federal capacity or in a state capacity.”

Other provisions increase the minimum daily pay for certain members of the organized militia performing state active duty from $100 per day to $200 per day; increase the age limit for some members of the state militia of the from 45 to 65; and allow all members of the military force under orders of the Commander-in-Chief, to enter upon and occupy public or private lands when on duty.

“Our National Guard includes the oldest serving units in the United States Military,” continued Baker. Since 1636, the Guard has been a vital resource for the nation and for the commonwealth. In support of our national defense, the Guard provides well-equipped, well-trained soldiers and airmen to support national security objectives and interests. As governor and Commander-in-Chief, it is my honor to oversee the Guard’s state mission: assisting civil authorities in the preservation of life and property.”

The new law is estimated to cost the state $250,000. Final approval is needed in each branch prior to the measure going to the governor for his signature.

SHOULD MBTA SUBWAY CARS BE MADE BY A CHINESE COMPANY? – The MBTA unveiled the first two newly-manufactured Orange Line vehicles at a ceremony at the Springfield headquarters of China RailwayRollingstock Corporation (CRRC), the manufacturer hired to build more than 400 subway cards subway cars for the T. According to the MBTA, the new vehicles incorporate designs that accommodate improved passenger comfort, new technology that provides important customer-facing information and cutting-edge accessibility features, such as platform gap mitigation devices.

“Since taking office, our administration has prioritized improving the core infrastructure of the T and over the next five years, the T is planning to invest $8 billion to continue these efforts,” said Gov. Charlie Baker. “By completely replacing the fleets of the Orange and Red lines, and significantly upgrading signals, the T will improve reliability for riders, and we are proud to celebrate the delivery of the first new Orange Line cars today.”

“Our pride is strong as we deliver on-time to America’s first transit system CRRC’s first subway cars built in the United States by talented workers standing with us today,” said CRRC Chairman and President Jia Bo. “We have taken the importance of transportation in the region as a path to introduce local rail car manufacturing where hundreds of jobs have been created stimulating the local economy. Our achievements prove the existence of well-nourished partnerships born from mutual cooperation and respect. We look forward to building CRRC’s presence in the United States using our journey here in Massachusetts as the footprint to success.”

Not so fast. Not everyone is celebrating. Rep. Shawn R. Dooley (R-Norfolk) said he will file legislation in the next session to prevent further purchases of transit rail cars from the CRRC by the T.

“I can say I was alarmed by the scope of the recent Marriott data breach and cyberattack by China but I can’t say I was all that surprised,” said Dooley. “What is surprising, and what should be alarming, is that the T is making huge purchases from CRRC, a company owned and controlled by the same Chinese government that just perpetrated this massive attack. Everyone knows that China plays the long game and that their laying the groundwork for control of vital transportation and distribution channels could have dire consequences if their actions turn hostile. The T needs to stop subsidizing such an aggressive adversary, especially one that just stole 500 million consumer data files.”

“The sophistication of the Chinese effort is no better illustrated by the insidiousness of how it has lured the T as an ally,” said Dooley. “The Chinese government puts up the capital to locate a manufacturing facility in the commonwealth, undercuts legitimate free market-based competition and lands a huge contract worth hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars under the guise of being a local company. It’s a ruse and nothing more than what a powerful and well-funded espionage actor does.”

THE BAY STATE IS THE FASTEST GROWING STATE IN THE NORTHEAST – New data released today by the United States Census Bureau indicates that the Bay State is the fastest growing state in the Northeast,” boasts Secretary of State and Massachusetts 2020 Census Liaison Bill Galvin. He added that Massachusetts is growing twice as fast as it did in the previous decade.

According to Galvin, the data suggests that the driving factor behind Massachusetts’ population growth is international immigration. While Massachusetts continues to lose population through residents moving to other states, that loss is offset by twice that number of people moving to Massachusetts from other countries.

“These numbers show how important it is that we ensure every person in Massachusetts is counted in the 2020 Census, whether or not they are United States citizens,” Galvin said. “More and more people living in Massachusetts are recent immigrants, and they have the right to be counted along with everyone else.”

GOV. BAKER’S INAUGURATION – The governor’s Inaugural Committee launched a website,, which will allow the public to learn about the events and register to attend the multiple inaugural celebrations across the state on January Thursday, January 3 and Friday, January 4. The official swearing-in is at the Statehouse on the third.

“Lt. Governor Polito and I remain humbled by the trust placed in us by the people of Massachusetts, and our inaugural celebrations in January will reflect our continued commitment to moving Massachusetts forward through bipartisan, reform-oriented leadership,” said Gov. Baker. “We invite the people of the Commonwealth to join us in celebrating our shared work to make the Commonwealth an even better place to live, work, start a business, and raise a family.”


“The clean energy industry continues to create quality jobs across Massachusetts. With over 110,000 workers across the commonwealth in a variety of occupations, including installation, efficiency, demand management and manufacturing, clean energy represents a significant segment of the Massachusetts workforce.”

Massachusetts Clean Energy Center CEO Stephen Pike.

“By requiring National Grid to adhere to safety standards above and beyond those recommended by the National Transportation Safety Board, we are protecting our residents and infrastructure while making it clear to utilities that only the highest level of attention and dedication to public safety will be tolerated in Massachusetts.”

Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton on the Department of Public Utilities issuance of a directive requiring National Grid to implement comprehensive new safety protocols before the company can initiate any natural gas work besides emergency work and lifting the moratorium issued October 8, 2018.

“My primary goal in this investigation has always been to get this money returned to the retirees to whom it is owed. Many of the people affected are elderly and are surviving on a fixed income. While the payments may have seemed small or insignificant to MetLife, these checks could have made a big difference for the people who never received them. They will now receive those payments, with interest.”

Secretary of State Bill Galvin announcing that his office has entered into a consent order, requiring MetLife to pay a fine of $1 million and provide payments, with interest, to hundreds of Massachusetts retirees and beneficiaries it had wrongly designated as presumed dead.”

“We are not a fortress on a hill. The work we do has an impact not only on those placed in our custody by the courts, but their families and the community at large. These visits are critical opportunities for legislators to see first-hand the incredible work our officers, medical staff, educators and counselors do on a daily basis to keep our communities safe and ready those in our custody to return to the community better prepared to be productive taxpayers and citizens.”

Middlesex Sheriff Peter Koutoujian welcoming four newly-elected members of the Massachusetts House delegation to a tour of the Middlesex Jail & House of Correction.

“I understand that there is a disappointment that it didn’t cross the finish line … but I don’t see it that way at all. We want to make sure everything is worked out and it may just take a little bit longer.”

Rep. Kay Khan (D-Newton) on failure of the House to approve a Senate-approved bill that would create a registry of abusers of persons with intellectual or developmental disabilities.

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 17-21, the House met for a total of xxx hour(S) xxxxxx minutes while the Senate met for a total of xxxx hour(S) and xxxxx minutes.

Mon. December 17 House 11:02 a.m. to 11:18 a.m.
Senate 11:36 a.m. to 3:48 p.m.

Tues. December 18 No House session
No Senate session

Wed. December 19 No House session
No Senate session

Thurs. December 20 House 11:04 a.m. to 4:54 p.m.
Senate 11:19 a.m. to 6:03 p.m.

Fri. December 21 House 00:00 a.m. to 0:00 p.m.
No Senate session

Bob Katzen welcomes feedback at

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