By Bob Katzen
THE HOUSE AND SENATE: There were no roll calls in the House or Senate last week.
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INTEREST GROUPS RATE YOUR LEGISLATORS – This week, Beacon Hill Roll Call continues its series that looks at the ratings senators and representatives received from interest groups which measured legislators’ support or opposition to the group’s legislative agenda in the 2017, 2018 and/or 2019 session.
This week’s report features the scores received from the Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance, Associated Industries of Massachusetts and Progressive Massachusetts.
MASS FISCAL ALLIANCE – 2017 AND 2018
Statement from MFA: The MFA is a non-partisan, non-profit organization committed to improving the quality of life in Massachusetts by advocating for fiscal responsibility through right of center economic, fiscal and good government solutions. As a non-profit organization, our primary focus is to promote social welfare. As residents of Massachusetts, we are concerned for our fiscal future.
“MFA advocates for fiscal responsibility, transparency, and accountability in state government and increased economic opportunity for the people of our commonwealth,” said Paul Craney, Executive Director of the MFA.
Key to ratings: The MFA scores each legislator based on key votes (269 for the House, 271 for the Senate) on issues selected to demonstrate their commitment to government transparency, holding the line on taxes and supporting small business.
More details on the scorecard are at https://massfiscalscorecard.org/ Choose 190th session from the drop-down box
Here is the percentage of time local representatives and senators voted with the MFA in 2017 and 2018.
Rep. Christine Barber 0 percent Rep. Mike Connolly 0 percent Rep. Denise Provost 3 percent Sen. Patricia Jehlen 2 percent
MASS FISCAL ALLIANCE – JANUARY 2019 TO APRIL 2019
Key to ratings: The MFA scores each legislator based on key votes (14 for the House, six for the Senate) for the first four months of the 2019-2020 session.
More details on the scorecard are at https://massfiscalscorecard.org/ Choose 191st session from the drop-down box.
Here is the percentage of time local representatives and senators voted with the MFA so far in 2019.
Rep. Christine Barber 0 percent Rep. Mike Connolly 79 percent Rep. Denise Provost 79 percent Sen. Patricia Jehlen 33 percent
ASSOCIATED INDUSTRIES OF MASSACHUSETTS (AIM) – 2018 and 2019 RATINGS
Statement from AIM: Associated Industries of Massachusetts (AIM) is the pre-eminent statewide employer association, serving the needs of all types of employers through public-policy advocacy, resources and community. AIM supports public policy that creates economic opportunity and job growth. We are a professional statewide lobbying organization with the unique size, influence, respect and professional talent to shape the economic future of Massachusetts. AIM saves every employer in Massachusetts an average of $2,000 per employee per year through its role as the premier voice of business.
“The AIM Legislative Scorecard ensures that the organization’s 3,500 member employers know each legislator’s record on key economic and public-policy issues,” said Richard Lord, President and CEO of AIM. “The document also recognizes lawmakers who understand the importance of a vibrant economy for all residents.”
Key to ratings: AIM: scores each legislator based on key votes (five for the House, eight for the Senate) on issues ranging from energy to economic development.
More details can be found on the scorecard are at https://votesmart.org/interest-group/1846/rating/11081#.XMnFoOhKhPa
Here is the percentage of time local representatives and senators voted with AIM in 2017 and 2018.
Rep. Christine Barber 60 percent Rep. Mike Connolly 60 percent Rep. Denise Provost 60 percent Sen. Patricia Jehlen 50 percent
Statement from Progressive Massachusetts: “Progressive Massachusetts is a statewide, member-driven grassroots organization built from the ground up by organizers and activists from across Massachusetts to advocate for progressive policy. Progressive Mass advocates for a Massachusetts where social, racial, and economic justice; environmental sustainability; health care as a right; equal access to quality public services; respect for all residents; and accountable and transparent government are given top priority. Its chapters and members around the state work to hold all elected officials accountable to progressive values.”
“Since its founding, Progressive Mass has been devoted to shining a light on the Statehouse and organizing to hold all elected officials accountable to the progressive ideals that are cherished throughout the commonwealth,” said Jonathan Cohn, chair of the Issues Committee at Progressive Massachusetts. “Given our state’s liberal reputation, many people think that everything is fine here at home, but Massachusetts has high inequality and lags behind other states from immigrants’ rights to voting rights to climate action.”
Key to ratings: Progressive Massachusetts scores each legislator based on 43 votes in the House and 66 in the Senate.
More details on the scorecard are at https://scorecard.progressivemass.com/
Here is the percentage of time local representatives and senators voted with Progressive Massachusetts:
Rep. Christine Barber 81 percent Rep. Mike Connolly 95 percent Rep. Denise Provost 95 percent Sen. Patricia Jehlen 94 percent
ALSO UP ON BEACON HILL
KOSHER FOOD (H 196) – The Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure Committee held a hearing on legislation requiring any food establishments that have had their kosher certification revoked to post a sign on the front door or window stating, “Kosher Certification Revoked.”
Sponsor Rep. Ruth Balser (D-Newton) said she filed the bill because it was brought to her attention that a kosher grocery store in her district had lost its kosher certification but did not remove the kosher sign from its storefront.
“This bill is a consumer protection bill,” said Balser. A consumer purchasing from a store labeled kosher should be able to be confident that kosher status is current.”
BIOMETRICS (H 287) – The Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure Committee held a hearing on a proposal that would add biometrics to the Security Breach Law that the Legislature approved in 2007. That law requires the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation to regulate the use and protect the security of personally identifying information including passwords and social security numbers. It also imposes a duty on third parties who hold such information to report breaches in security.
Biometric indicators are unique biological attributes or measurements that can be used to authenticate the identity of a person including fingerprints, genetic information, iris or retina patterns, voice recognition, facial characteristics and hand geometry.
Supporters say the 2007 law has worked well and has resulted in the identification of thousands of breaches and the protection of millions of Massachusetts residents, including 947,000 Target customers whose information was compromised in 2013. They argued the law must be updated to keep up with new and changing technology and to protect consumers.
The House and Senate gave initial approval to the same bill in 2017 but it was never given final approval.
REGISTRY OF ABUSERS OF PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES (H 127) – Testimony on a bill establishing a Registry of Caretakers who have abused persons with an intellectual disability or developmental disability was given at a hearing before the Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities Committee. The measure requires service providers to check the registry prior to hiring an individual as a caretaker and prohibits the hiring if the person’s name is in the registry.
“The intent of the legislation is to provide an important layer of safety for the most vulnerable population among us,” said the bill’s sponsor Rep. Richard Haggerty (D-Woburn).
A similar bill was unanimously approved by the Senate in July 2018 and sent to the House Ways and Means Committee which never acted on the bill and instead let it die at the end of the 2018 session.
FUNDING COLLEGES – The Higher Education Committee held a hearing on several college-related bills including:
DEBT-FREE PUBLIC COLLEGES (H 1221) – Gives free college tuition including mandatory fees to Massachusetts residents who have a high school diploma or equivalent; have been admitted or are already enrolled in a public college or university or at certificate, vocational or training programs at a public institution; and maintain a cumulative GPA of at least 2.0.
STATE MATCHES FUNDS (H 1228) – Provides $20 million for the state to match money raised by the state’s public colleges and universities.
SCHOOL SAFETY (H 1215) – Provides $120 million for a program of capital improvements to public colleges to ensure the wellbeing and safety of students, faculty, staff and the college community at large. The funding includes $100 million for new security cameras, door locks, active shooter detection systems, emergency communication systems, campus lighting and emergency call boxes. Another $15 million for cybersecurity, including software, security analytics, firewall upgrades, network infrastructure upgrades; and $5 million to hire campus cybersecurity personnel.
QUOTABLE QUOTES – Umass By the Numbers Edition
Umass President Marty Meehan testified before the Higher Education Committee last week. He told legislators that there would be a 2.5 percent tuition hike unless the Legislature increased funding for the Umass system by $10 million.
The budget for Umass in the House’s fiscal 2020 $42.7 billion.
The budget Umass would need to freeze current tuition rates for a year.
The predicted percentage Umass’ tuition would rise if doesn’t get the additional $10 million.
The average amount and percent by which Umass raised its tuition for in-state undergraduates in 2018.
The average amount and percent by which Umass raised its tuition for out-of-state undergraduates in 2008
The number of students at Umass
The number of students who are from Massachusetts, from the total of 75,000.
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 April 29-May 3, the House met for a total of one hour and 40 minutes while the Senate met for a total of one hour and 37 minutes.
Mon. April 29 House 10:03 a.m. to 11:18 a.m.
Senate 11:06 a.m. to 11:16 a.m.
Tues. April 30 No House session
No Senate session
Wed. May 1 No House session
No Senate session
Thurs. May 2 House 11:04 a.m. to 12:29 p.m.
Senate 11:09 a.m. to 12:36 p.m.
Fri. May 3 No House session
No Senate session
Bob Katzen welcomes feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org