By Bob Katzen
THE HOUSE AND SENATE. There were no roll call votes in the House or Senate last week. This week, Beacon Hill Roll Call reports local representatives’ roll call attendance records for the 2019 session through August 16.
The House has held 90 roll call so far in 2019. We tabulate the number of roll calls on which each representative was present and voting and then calculate that number as a percentage of the total roll call votes held. That percentage is the number referred to as the roll call attendance record.
Several quorum roll calls, used to gather a majority of members onto the House floor to conduct business, are also included in the 90 roll calls. On quorum roll calls, members simply vote “present” in order to indicate their presence in the chamber. When a representative does not indicate his or her presence on a quorum roll call, we count that as a roll call absence just like any other roll call absence.
Only 91 (56.8 percent) of the House’s 160 members have 100 percent roll call attendance records.
The representative who missed the most roll calls was Rep. Liz Miranda (D-Roxbury) who missed 30, (66.6 percent attendance). Miranda did not respond to repeated requests for a statement.
Also included in the top five members who missed the most roll calls are Reps. Peter Capano (D-Lynn) who missed 26, (71.1 percent attendance); Sheila Harrington (R-Groton) who missed 21, (76.6 percent attendance); Paul McMurtry (D-Dedham) who missed 20, (77.7 percent attendance); and Harold Naughton (D-Worcester) who missed 20, (77.7 percent attendance). Beacon Hill Roll Call requested a statement from these four representatives.
Rep. Capano: “I missed one day, my very first day, because I had the flu back in January. I pride myself in being at every single roll call, have testified on numerous bills affecting my constituents, and have not missed one committee meeting.” (Beacon Hill Roll Call confirms that Capano was absent that one day, January 30, 2019, on which there were 26 roll calls.)
Rep. Harrington: Did not respond to repeated requests for a statement.
Rep. McMurtry: “I have always prided myself on my attendance record, which has been near perfect in over a decade of my public service. Unfortunately, I was called out of town this session on personal matters beyond my control which forced me to miss votes on two occasions … [I] do not foresee missing any other votes this session.”
Rep. Naughton: “Any votes missed have been due to personal illness, serious illness among multiple family members and military obligations such as preparation for and embankment upon the current mission which I am on in Southwest Asia.”
2019 REPRESENTATIVES’ ROLL CALL ATTENDANCE RECORD THROUGH AUGUST 16
The percentage listed next to the representative’s name is the percentage of roll call votes for which the senator was present and voting. The number in parentheses represents the number of roll calls that he or she missed.
Rep. Christine Barber 100 percent (0) Rep. Mike Connolly 100 percent (0) Rep. Denise Provost 96.6 percent (3)
ALSO UP ON BEACON HILL
DELIVERY OF MARIJUANA TO HOMES – The Cannabis Control Commission (CCC) has been working on drafting new regulations for the marijuana industry in the Bay State. They presented them at two public hearings last week. The most controversial regulation was the one that would require delivery drivers to wear a body camera any time they are outside their delivery vehicle and to record all transactions. The videos would be stored for at least 90 days and must be made available to the CCC or law enforcement if requested.
“The intrusion precipitated by a video recording of a person in their residence is a gross violation of their privacy,” said Will Luzier who was the campaign manager for the 2016 ballot question that legalized marijuana. “It is only one step away from surveillance through devices known as telescreens—in other words two-way televisions—that George Orwell envisioned in his dystopian novel ‘1984.’ The proposal to use body cameras for home delivery is contrary to the will of the voters and should be eliminated from the final regulations.”
Walpole Police Chief and member of the Cannabis Advisory Board John Carmichael testified in favor of the body camera requirement. He said that marijuana establishments have many security measures in place right now including video surveillance systems, limited access areas and identification procedures. And that should extend to delivery. “I’m advocating for the delivery person’s safety,” said Carmichael. “Unfortunately, there is crime, violent crime, that’s been committed here in Massachusetts in the illicit side of the market. People have been hurt. People have been killed. There is no reason for us to believe that won’t extend beyond that market and into the legal market.”
The commission will read all the written comments it has received and will meet in mid-September to debate any possible changes to their first draft of regulations and to vote on the final regulations.
In a lighter moment: “You can see I am getting old, but there is one thing that I have found improves with age and that is the pleasure of being able to say, ‘I told you so,’” said former Massachusetts Congressman Barney Frank, now 79, in his appearance before the commission. Frank was referring to when as a state representative in 1972 he proposed a bill legalizing marijuana when just about every politician was against the legalization.
“We talk a lot about the divisions, the anger, generational problems,” said Frank. “I think an appropriate set of regulations that make it possible for adults responsibly to use marijuana for any purpose they choose, that that will go an important way towards healing one of the major divisions we have. The fundamental inconsistency between the way marijuana is regulated and the way alcohol is regulated, and cigarettes is one of the causes, I think, of the anger and distrust for the political system, so we have a chance here to kind of reconcile people in our society.”
He showed the 1972 bill to the commission and the spectators, mostly marijuana advocates, broke into applause. “I will allow applause this one time,” said CCC chair Hoffman as Frank returned to his seat. “I feel sorry for the next speaker.”
GUN LEGISLATION – The Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee are holding a hearing on 68 bills on August 28 at 1 p.m. in Room A-2 at the Statehouse in Boston. Here are some of the bills on the agenda:
ALLOW AGES 15-17 TO PARTICIPATE IN YOUTH HUNTS (S 1413) – Allows youths ages 15 to 17 under the immediate supervision of a person holding a valid Firearm Identification (FID) or License to carry (LTC) to take part in the youth hunts that are organized by the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife. Current law requires youths ages 15-17 to have a basic hunter education certificate.
“Understanding wildlife and ethical hunting practices should be taught at a young age and this change would help to instill those values,” said Sen. Anne Gobi (D-Spencer), the bill’s sponsor.
MORE DATA ON GUNS USED IN CRIMES (S 1388) – Expands the information in a 2014 law to be collected on guns used in crimes. Also requires the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security to issue a biennial report analyzing crime gun data.
“The simple message behind this legislation is that good data leads to good policy,” said Sen. Cynthia Creem (D-Newton). “With the passage of this bill we will improve and expand the data collected on crime guns in Massachusetts and provide critical information to public safety officials and policy makers on ways to reduce gun violence.”
“To address crime guns and straw trafficking, we need a better understanding of how these guns are reaching our streets- so we can stop the supply chain,” says the Massachusetts Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence on its website. The coalition helped pass a 2014 law that required that every gun recovered in crime be traced, and that the data be put in a database.
“We now have five years of this critical data, and we need to know what it says,” the website concludes.
RESPONSIBILITY FOR DAMAGE CAUSED BY LOST OR STOLEN FIREARMS (H 2044) – Makes a firearm owner civilly liable for damage caused by lost or stolen firearms if he or she has not reported the loss or theft of the weapon within 24 hours of the owner’s knowledge of the theft or loss.
Supporters say this will encourage gun owners to be accountable and report when their gun is lost or stolen.
NO LOCKED STORAGE REQUIRED IF NO MINOR ON PREMISES (H 2051) – Exempts gun owners in houses without minors from the current law requiring that all guns be secured in a locked container or equipped with a tamper-resistant mechanical lock or other safety device that renders the weapon inoperable by any person other than the owner.
Supporters say the lock requirement was designed to prevent minors from accessing the gun. They argue that if there are no minors in the home, the requirement is not necessary.
NO GUN CONFISCATION DURING EMERGENCIES (S 1404) – Prohibits the confiscation of lawfully owned firearms during a state of emergency. The measure imposes a fine of up to $5,000 per item seized or a prison term of up to 2.5 years. Exemptions allow the seizure of firearms from persons who are under arrest, are the subject of an abuse protection order or have had their firearm license revoked.
“It is important that the rights of law-abiding citizens be protected, even in times of emergency,” said Sen. Dean Tran (R-Fitchburg).
The bill’s chief sponsor, Sen. Ryan Fattman (R-Sutton) did not respond to repeated requests by Beacon Hill Roll Call to comment on his bill.
“The job of the transportation system is to move people. When the entire Orange Line fleet is replaced, it will be able to carry more passengers per hour than ever before, there will be shorter times between trains, and customers will have more confidence that they can depend on public transportation system to get them where they need to go.”
—MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak unveiling the first new Orange Line six-car train.
“It’s not enough to just talk about the history of the suffrage movement, it’s about highlighting issues of today and taking what we learned from the suffrage movement and applying it to current times because there are so many parallels.”
—Amanda Hunter, research and communications director of the Barbara Lee Family Foundation which is offering grants of up to $5,000 for Boston area organizations to link the history of the suffrage movement to social issues of present times. Details are at www.barbaraleefoundation.org
“As state legislators, we not only have the opportunity to advance bills in our respective legislatures, but also to promote progress at the federal level on collective issues such as gun violence. There is tremendous potential to advance commonsense laws at the federal level such as background checks, licensing requirements and firearm restrictions—including a renewal of the assault weapons ban.”
—Sen. Richard Moore (D-Millbury) calling upon the National Conference of State Legislatures to take action on gun control.
“The height of the summer travel season is an opportunity for us to remind motorists about the dangers of impaired driving. Research and data show that many people do not understand or believe the link between using marijuana and impaired driving, so this campaign is designed specifically to address these myths.”
—Gov. Charlie Baker kicking off an impaired driving television campaign “Wisdom” designed to reach men age 18 to 34, who are the most likely to be behind the wheel in impaired driving crashes.
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 August 12-16, the House met for a total of two hours and 17 minutes while the Senate met for a total of two hours and 11 minutes.
Mon. Aug. 12 House 11:02 a.m. to 12:54 p.m.
Senate 11:03 a.m. to 12:56 p.m.
Tues. Aug. 13 No House session
No Senate session
Wed. Aug. 14 No House session
No Senate session
Thurs. Aug 15 House 11:00 a.m. to 11:25 a.m.
Senate 11:07 a.m. to 11:25 a.m.
Fri. Aug. 16. No House session
No Senate session
Bob Katzen welcomes feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org