Beacon Hill Roll Call Volume 44 -Report No. 8 February 18-22, 2019

By Bob Katzen

THE HOUSE AND SENATE. Beacon Hill Roll Call records local representatives’ votes on roll calls from January 30. All roll calls are on proposed changes to House rules. There were no roll calls in the House or Senate last week.

House 32-125, rejected a proposed House rule that would prohibit tax hikes from being considered at an informal session of the House. Informal sessions are ones in which there can be no roll call votes and everything is approved or rejected on an unrecorded voice vote.

Supporters of the rule said it is unfair to allow tax hikes to be brought up at these lightly attended sessions often without informing members of the agenda.

Opponents said the rule is unnecessary because any single member who shows up at a lightly attended informal session can doubt the presence of a quorum, at which point the session would end because there is not a quorum.

(A “Yes” vote is for prohibiting tax hikes from being brought up at informal sessions. A “No” vote is against the prohibition.)

Rep. Christine Barber No Rep. Mike Connolly No Rep. Denise Provost No

House 5-152, rejected a proposed amendment to a current House rule that allows the chief sponsor of an amendment to withdraw his amendment unilaterally without the permission of his or her co-sponsors. The amendment would keep an amendment alive unless the chief sponsor and all the co-sponsors agree to withdraw it.

Amendment supporters said the current rule gives too much power to the prime sponsor without considering whether the co-sponsors would still like to debate and vote on the amendment.

Amendment opponents said the current rule has worked well and the change is unnecessary and unfair. They noted many times the chief sponsor will withdraw one amendment in order to get another one approved and said this new rule would interfere with that negotiation.

(A “Yes” vote is for the amendment requiring the permission of the chief sponsor and co-sponsors in order to withdraw an amendment. A “No” vote is against requiring it.)

Rep. Christine Barber No Rep. Mike Connolly No Rep. Denise Provost No

House 32-125, rejected a proposed new House rule that would allow representatives who are attending a committee hearing in the Statehouse to cast their vote from the committee room when a roll call vote is being held in the House chamber. The rule also provides that a remote-control station with fingerprint recognition be set up in each committee hearing room in the Statehouse.

Supporters said many committee hearings are held at the same time the House is in session voting on important issues. They said it is unfair that these members are denied the right to vote if they are in a hearing room giving or listening to testimony on various bills.

Opponents offered no arguments. Rep. Bill Galvin (D-Canton) the chairman of the Rules Committee that drafted the new rules did not respond to several requests from Beacon Hill Roll Call for a comment.

(A “Yes” vote is for alllowing remote voting. A “No” vote is against allowing it.)

Rep. Christine Barber No Rep. Mike Connolly No Rep. Denise Provost No


ATTEND AN EVENT: THE FUTURE OF OFFSHORE WIND – Gov. Charlie Baker will be the keynote speaker at “The Future of Offshore Wind,” a discussion about opportunities in the state’s offshore wind future. The event is open to the public and will be held on Wednesday, March 6 at facilities at Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education, 10 Winter Place in Boston from 7:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. It is sponsored by the State House News Forum, a division of the iconic State House News Service in partnership with the Environmental League of Massachusetts.

Moderated by Jon Chesto of the Boston Globe, the forum will feature panel discussions including one titled “The Opportunity” that will focus on six ocean leases off the Massachusetts coast where advocates say there is enough wind to power half our state or a quarter of New England. Vineyard Wind, Orsted, Mayflower Wind and Equinor are the four companies that have secured these leases. You will hear why these companies fought hard for the leasing rights, how they hope to build out their areas and their views on the challenges and opportunities ahead.”

“Offshore wind has reached a major inflection point as a source of renewable energy,” said George Donnelly, who runs the State House News Forum and is working with the Environment League of Massachusetts on the event. “A lot is at stake this year and the interest in the event is extremely high. We’re thrilled to have the governor and so many leaders in the offshore wind industry on stage and in attendance.”

Tickets are only $15 and can be purchased at

IF AT FIRST YOU DON’T SUCCEED – Many bills that were defeated or died in committee last year have been refiled for consideration in the 2019-2020 session. Here are some of them:

BAN ON NATIVE-AMERICAN SCHOOL MASCOTS – Bans the use of any Native American mascot by a public school including names like Redskins, Savages, Indians, Indianettes, Chiefs, Chieftains, Braves or Redmen.

Supporters say the use of these symbols is demeaning to Native Americans and stereotypes them as savages. They said this decision should not be left up to local communities and noted a statewide ban will ensure that no schools use these offensive symbols.

Some opponents say the mascots honor Native Americans by emphasizing positive traits like a fighting spirit, bravery, pride and dedication. Others say this is a decision that should be made by individual cities and towns.

NEW STATE SEAL AND MOTTO – Creates a special commission to examine the state seal and motto including those parts of it which have been controversial or misunderstood.

The commission would develop a revised version of the seal which currently includes a Native American holding a bow in one hand, an arrow in the other hand and a disembodied arm holding a sword above him. The motto is “By the sword we seek peace, but only under liberty.”

The commission would determine “whether the seal and motto accurately reflect and embody the historic and contemporary commitments of the commonwealth to peace, justice, liberty and equality, and to spreading the opportunities and advantages of education.”

Supporters of the special commission say the current seal is politically insensitive and the bow and arrow depict violence. They note the sword-wielding arm is that of Captain Miles Standish, a pilgrim whose army killed many Native Americans in the 1600s and portrays Indians in a “surrender state.”

Supporters of the current seal say that it is a sacred symbol. They argue that the depiction is appropriate and note that the arrow is pointing downward which is known as a Native American symbol signifying peace.

BAN SEXUAL ORIENTATION CONVERSION THERAPY – Prohibits psychiatrists and other mental health professionals from providing conversion therapy to lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender minors under 18. The therapy is designed to change their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Supporters of the ban say being gay, bisexual or transgender is not a disease and therefore does not need a cure. They argue there is no sound evidence that this type of “junk therapy” even works and note it is known to have increased levels of depression, anxiety, substance abuse, homelessness and suicidal thoughts.

Opponents of the ban say the treatment has been successful for some children including those whose sexuality was influenced by sexual abuse. Others note that some people who underwent sexual reorientation therapy felt that they were better off afterwards — even if the therapy was not effective in changing their sexual orientation. Some note that the therapy should not be used on any patient who believes that he or she is simply born with a specific sexual preference.

PARENTS CAN’T BE FORCED TO TESTIFY AGAINST THEIR CHILDREN – Protects biological parents, adoptive parents, stepparents and legal guardians of a child from being forced to testify against the child. The protection would not apply if the child is being accused of committing a crime against a family member. Current law only protects children from being forced to testify against their parents.

Supporters say it is time to get rid of this double standard and to have an even playing field.

NO SCHOOL ON ELECTION DAY – Prohibits public schools from scheduling classes on any statewide Election Day. The measure would designate Election Day as a professional development day to train principals, teachers and other professional staff in various skills.

Supporters say many schools serve as polling places on Election Day. They argue that crowds entering the schools on those days reduces safety at the schools and puts children in danger.

MUST SHOW ID TO VOTE – Requires all voters to show identification at their polling places in order to be allowed to vote. Acceptable forms of ID would include any unexpired state or federal government-issued photo ID. This includes a Massachusetts state driver’s license or photo identification card and a United States passport. The measure also provides a free or reduced cost photo ID card to indigent voters who cannot afford to pay for one.

Supporters say it is illogical that all voters are not required to show identification prior to voting and note that many other states have laws requiring IDs. They argue that people cannot cash a check, rent a car or even enter some government buildings without showing an ID.

Opponents say the bill would disenfranchise thousands of voters including people who do not have a current address because they are in a homeless shelter or domestic violence facility. Others said that there have been no widespread reports of voter fraud in Massachusetts.


“The disclosure of tax returns is something that gives voters insight into who this candidate is.”

Sen. Becca Rausch (D-Needham) on her election reform bill that includes a requirement that candidates release four years of their tax returns in order to qualify to get on the 2020 and all future presidential primary ballot in Massachusetts.

“I’m proud of the work the prosecutors in my office have done to secure more than $5 billion in civil and criminal collections and asset forfeitures, in 2018 alone. The District of Massachusetts has long been a leader in financial recoveries in the areas of health care fraud, securities fraud and civil settlements, and we will continue to aggressively pursue collections that return money to victims of crime and U.S. taxpayers, and that deprive criminals of their ill-gotten gains.”

U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling on his office collecting more than $5 billion in criminal and civil actions in fiscal year 2018.

“Declaring a national emergency to build a wall repeatedly rejected by Congress is an illegal power grab by President Trump and a violation of the constitutional separation of powers. My team has been in contact with the multistate group and is working to determine the full scope and impact on Massachusetts so that, if and when we challenge the administration’s actions, we bring the strongest possible case.”

Attorney General Maura Healey, in a memo to the State House News Service, on why Massachusetts has not joined a coalition of 16 states that filed a federal lawsuit in California challenging President Trump’s declaration of a national emergency in order to divert funds toward building border walls.

“Early detection plays an important role in the protection of the economic and ecological resources of our state from invasive species. We ask all residents who have received potted plants this past December to help us protect Massachusetts’ environment and agricultural industries by checking for and reporting signs of spotted lanternfly.”

Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources Commissioner John Lebeaux telling Bay Staters that they should look in their potted plants for spotted lanternfly — large, gray insects, about one inch long, with black spots and red underwings in their potted plants. Go to to see how to report any find.

This bug is an invasive sap-feeding insect that attacks a variety of trees, shrubs and vines, and has the potential to impact a broad range of agricultural commodities, including apples, peaches, grapes/wine, maple syrup, as well as the ornamental nursery industry.

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 February 18-22, the House met for a total of 20 minutes while the Senate met for a total of 52 minutes.

Mon. February 18 No House session
No Senate session

Tues. February 19 House 11:00 a.m. to 11:02 a.m
Senate 11:15 a.m. to 11:59 a.m

Wed. February 20 No House session
No Senate session

Thurs. February 21 House 11:00 a.m. to 11:18 a.m.
Senate 11:08 a.m. to 11:16 a.m.

Fri. February 22 No House session
No Senate session

Bob Katzen welcomes feedback at

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