Beacon Hill Roll Call Volume 44 -Report No. 29 July 15-19, 2019

By Bob Katzen

THE HOUSE AND SENATE. Beacon Hill Roll Call records local senator’s votes on roll calls from recent sessions. There were no roll calls in the House or Senate last week.

Senate 39-0, approved an amendment that would provide $500,000 for the Municipal Naloxone Bulk Purchase Program that allows cities and towns to purchase this life-saving overdose-reversal drug also known by its brand name Narcan, for its municipal first responder agencies at a discount.

“In Springfield, deaths from opioid overdose have nearly doubled in the last year,” said Sen. Eric Lesser (D-Longmeadow), the sponsor of the amendment. “In Chicopee and Holyoke and other regional cities across Massachusetts, the picture is similar. We have not yet turned a corner in the opioid epidemic, so we need to keep the Naloxone Bulk Purchase Trust Fund fully funded and we need to continue investing in recovery and treatment tools to help those struggling with addiction.”

(A “Yes” vote is for the amendment.)

Sen. Patricia Jehlen Yes

Senate 39-0, approved an amendment providing $200,000 in funding for the state’s Division of Professional Licensure to investigate human trafficking and sexual exploitation in massage spas and all the other facilities subject to inspection by the division.

“Human trafficking is an atrocious crime that inflicts an incomprehensible level of brutality and suffering upon victims,” said the bill’s sponsor Sen. Mark Montigny (D-New Bedford). “For too long traffickers have seized upon the bodyworks loophole and limited state resources to perpetuate such heinous activity. As long as we have hundreds of spas in Massachusetts with only two inspectors, we are not serious about protecting vulnerable victims.”

(A “Yes” vote is for the amendment.)

Sen. Patricia Jehlen Yes

Senate 6-33, rejected an amendment giving the state auditor the power to access state employees’ credit card records “to ensure integrity and accountability of employee credit card usage.”

“I support the auditor accessing state credits cards to ensure transparency and accountability of taxpayer money,” said Sen. Ryan Fattman (R-Webster), a co-sponsor of the amendment. “I’ve seen stories of extravagant spending at some agencies and shining a light on that spending permits legislators to make better decisions in the state budgetary process.”

Amendment opponents said the state auditor already has all the statutory authority she needs to complete these audits and argued this amendment is duplicative and unnecessary.

(A “Yes” vote is for the amendment.)

Sen. Patricia Jehlen No


PROVIDE HOMELESS CHILDREN WITH TRANSPORTATION TO SCHOOL (S 344) – The Education Committee is considering a bill that would provide school transportation to homeless students. The schools would be reimbursed by the state for any costs that aren’t covered by federal funding.

Supporters cited a 2018 report that says over 3,000 students in Massachusetts experience homelessness in a given year.

“One of the biggest factors for determining positive life outcomes for a child is education, and the quality of that education is an equally important determinant,” said Sen. Dean Tran (R-Fitchburg), the sponsor of the proposal. “Fortunately for those of us who live in the commonwealth, we have the ability to take advantage of the best educational system in the country. Unfortunately, the overall quality of our education system is meaningless if our children cannot get to class.”

POSTING GAS PRICES (H 253) – A bill heard by the Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure Committee would require gas stations which post large signs with the price of gasoline to include both the price if paid by credit card and the price if paid by cash. The prices must be in the same size lettering.

Supporters say some stations are very misleading because they post only the cash price. They note it’s not until drivers pull onto the property and up to the pump that they see two sets of pricing per gallon – based on paying with cash or credit card, with up to a 10-cent-per-gallon differential.

WARNINGS ON SLOT MACHINES (S 214) – The Economic Development and Emerging Technologies Committee held a hearing on a bill that would require all slot machines to have a sticker in plain sight explaining the addictive nature of slot machines; the programming and therefore non-randomness of the machines; and the compulsive gambling hotline phone number.

Supporters say with two casinos now operating, it is time to ensure players know that that the odds of winning at the slot machines are overwhelmingly against them.

BAN SMOKING IN CARS WITH CHILDREN (H 1909) – The Public Health Committee held a hearing on a measure that would prohibit smoking in any motor vehicle in which there is a child who is required to be in a child passenger restraint. Under Massachusetts law, children must use a restraint until they are at least eight years old or at least 57 inches tall. The measure imposes a $100 fine on drivers who violate the ban.

The proposal prohibits a police officer from searching a motor vehicle, its contents, the driver or a passenger solely because of a violation of this law. It also prohibits the violation from being used as evidence of contributory negligence by the driver in any civil action and requires officers, for 90 days after the law is in effect, to give only a warning and not a citation to a driver who violates this law.

Supporters say that second-hand smoke causes respiratory problems, ear infections and mental health disorders including depression. They note it can also make a child’s asthma worse.

Some opponents say this is another example of unnecessary government intrusion into people’s lives. Others ask why this arbitrary bill doesn’t protect children older than eight or taller than 57 inches.

SMOKING – The Public Health Committee’s agenda included a bill to prohibit smoking in all private residences except single-family detached homes.

Another proposal would ban the sale of cigarettes in all retail stores except in adult-only retail tobacco stores that prohibit anyone under 21 from entering. The store’s primary purpose must be to sell tobacco products and tobacco paraphernalia, and the sale of other products must be merely incidental. The bill also allows the sale of tobacco in smoking bars.


“The Massachusetts National Guard and the Baker-Polito administration will continue to support transgender soldiers and airmen in serving our commonwealth with dignity and respect.”

—Massachusetts Executive Office of Public Safety and Security Secretary Thomas Turco.

“Although I’m angered by the misguided policies of the current occupant of the White House, I am grateful for the commitment in writing from Secretary Turco that the Massachusetts National Guard will continue to embrace all wishing to serve, including transgender and gender non-conforming residents of our commonwealth.”

—Sen. Julian Cyr (D-Truro).

“Across the country, millions of bees are dying off and bee colonies are in distress due to a phenomenon known as colony collapse disorder. While many factors are implicated in colony collapse disorder, one cause is the increased use of neonicotinoid insecticides, or neonics.”

—Ben Hellerstein, State Director for Environment Massachusetts, supporting a petition signed by 20,000 Massachusetts residents today asking state leaders to restrict the use of bee-killing pesticides known as neonicotinoids.

“We as a Legislature must do everything in our power to ensure the safety, dignity, and civil rights for our community members stuck on our streets.

—Sen. Becca Rausch (D-Needham) on her bill seeking to provide meaningful civil rights for people experiencing homelessness and combat discrimination based on housing status in Massachusetts.

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 July 15-19, the House met for a total of ten hours and seven minutes while the Senate met for a total of six hours and 25 minutes.

Mon. July 15 House 11:02 a.m. to 12:45 p.m.
Senate 11:08 a.m. to 11:24 a.m.

Tues. July 16 House 11:02 a.m. to 11:10 a.m.
Senate 11:10 a.m. to 11:14 a.m.

Wed. July 17 No House session
Senate 11:04 a.m. to 11:13 a.m.

Thurs. July 18 House 11:02 a.m. to 4:48 p.m.
Senate 11:07 a.m. to 5:03 p.m.

Fri. July 19 House 11:03 a.m. to 1:33 p.m.
No Senate session

Bob Katzen welcomes feedback at

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