Beacon Hill Roll Call, Oct. 30-Nov. 3

The Massachusetts State House in Boston

The Massachusetts State House in Boston

By Bob Katzen

Beacon Hill Roll Call

Published: 11-10-2023 11:40 AM

THE HOUSE AND SENATE: Beacon Hill Roll Call records local representatives’ and senators’ votes from recent roll calls on overriding Gov. Maura Healey’s veto of several items in the $56.2 billion fiscal 2024 budget.

$774,000 FOR HOUSING SERVICES (H 4040): House 129-26, Senate 38-0, overrode Gov. Healey’s veto of $774,000 (reducing funding from $10,474,000 million to $9,700,000 million) for housing services and counseling to find and maintain housing for many people who face significant barriers to sustaining housing payments. The money would be distributed via grants to regional housing consumer education centers operated by the regional nonprofit housing authorities.

“I am reducing this item to the amount projected to be necessary,” said Healey in her veto message.

(A “Yes” vote is for the $774,000. A “No” vote is against it.)

Rep. Natalie Blais, Yes; Rep. Daniel Carey, Yes; Rep. Mindy Domb, Yes; Rep. Lindsay Sabadosa, Yes; Rep. Aaron Saunders, Yes; Sen. Joanne Comerford, Yes; Sen. Paul Mark, Yes; Sen. Jacob Oliveira, Yes; Sen. John Velis, Yes

$550,000 FOR REGIONAL ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT GRANTS (H 4040): House 154-0, Senate 38-0, overrode Gov. Healey’s veto of $500,000 (reducing funding from $2 million to $1.5 million) for Regional Economic Development Grants for businesses seeking help from the state.

“I am reducing this item to the amount projected to be necessary,” said Healey in her veto message. “This reduction is not projected to cause operational impact.”

(A “Yes” vote is for the $500,000. A “No” vote is against it.)

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Rep. Natalie Blais, Yes; Rep. Daniel Carey, Yes; Rep. Mindy Domb, Yes; Rep. Lindsay Sabadosa, Yes; Rep. Aaron Saunders, Yes; Sen. Joanne Comerford, Yes; Sen. Paul Mark, Yes; Sen. Jacob Oliveira, Yes; Sen. John Velis, Yes

$100,000 FOR ADVANCED MATH AND SCIENCE (H 4040): House 151-3, Senate 37-1, overrode Gov. Healey’s veto of $100,000 (reducing funding from $3.3 to $3.2 million) for a program to increase participation and performance in advanced placement courses, particularly among underserved populations, to prepare students for college and career success in science, technology, engineering, math and English.

“I am reducing this item to the amount projected to be necessary based on historical spending in this line,” said Healey in her veto message. (A “Yes” vote is for the $100,000. A “No” vote is against it.)

Rep. Natalie Blais, Yes; Rep. Daniel Carey, Yes; Rep. Mindy Domb, Yes; Rep. Lindsay Sabadosa, Yes; Rep. Aaron Saunders, Yes; Sen. Joanne Comerford, Yes; Sen. Paul Mark, Yes; Sen. Jacob Oliveira, Yes; Sen. John Velis, Yes

$7.6 MILLION FOR COMMUNITY ACTION AGENCIES (H 4040): House 129-25, Senate 37-1 overrode Gov. Healey’s veto of the entire $7.6 million for operational support grants to community action agencies to “assist the agencies in their mission to assist residents of the commonwealth living with low incomes to stabilize their lives and achieve economic prosperity, and in creating and expanding opportunity for those residents in the neighborhoods and municipalities where they live and work.”

“I am vetoing this item because its original purpose was specifically tied to addressing the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Healey in her veto message.

(A “Yes” vote is for the $7.6 million. A “No” vote is against it.)

Rep. Natalie Blais, Yes; Rep. Daniel Carey, Yes; Rep. Mindy Domb, Yes; Rep. Lindsay Sabadosa, Yes; Rep. Aaron Saunders, Yes; Sen. Joanne Comerford, Yes; Sen. Paul Mark, Yes; Sen. Jacob Oliveira, Yes; Sen. John Velis, Yes

ALSO UP ON BEACON HILL

MEDICARE FOR ALL (H 1239): The Committee on Health Care Financing held a hearing on a measure creating a state-run “Medicare for All” single-payer health care system.

“Whether it is visiting nonprofits or talking to constituents working to make ends meet, Medicare for All is at top of mind for many in my district who are frustrated by rising health care costs,” said sponsor Rep. Lindsay Sabadosa (D-Northampton). “This includes providers who feel like the current system is no longer working and is driving them to leave their practices. Health care spending totaled over $68 billion in 2021 and those numbers are only going up. Simultaneously, we’ve seen closure of services across the state due, fundamentally, to a lack of profitability. Since health care should be a public good, this legislation treats it as such, ensuring affordable, equitable access.”

RAISE FINE FOR “RIGHT OF WAY” VIOLATIONS (H 3477): A bill heard by the Transportation Committee would raise from $35 to $200 the fine for violating the traffic rule that provides when two vehicles approach or enter an intersection at approximately the same instant, the operator of the vehicle on the left must yield the right-of-way to the vehicle on the right. The proposal also imposes additional penalties and/or license revocation for up to six months for any of these violations that cause death, serious bodily harm or bodily harm.

Sponsor Rep. Steven Xiarhos (R-Barnstable) noted the bill is named “Cecelia’s Law” - in memory of Cecelia Finnegan Alldredge of Sagamore who was killed when a car turned in front of her and caused a fatal crash.

“This proposed law, which mandates increased penalties for those found guilty of causing a crash by making a left-hand turn in front of an oncoming vehicle, sends a clear message about the seriousness of this offense,” said Xiarhos. “By imposing stricter consequences for negligent behavior, we encourage safer driving practices and protect the lives of our fellow citizens. The importance of this legislation goes beyond this specific case. It has the potential to make our roads safer for all residents of Massachusetts.”

LITTERING FROM YOUR VEHICLE (H 3346): Another bill heard by the Transportation Committee would make littering by the driver or any passenger, on public or private property, a civil offense punishable by a fine of $100 for a first offense, $250 for a second offense and $500 for a third and all subsequent offenses. The violation would be a surchargeable offense which under Bay State law, can lead to temporary higher insurance premiums for the driver.

Current law, which remains in effect even if this bill is approved, allows the Registry of Motor Vehicles, after a hearing, to suspend for up to a week, the license or permit to operate a motor vehicle of any person who litters or allows passengers to litter.

“Littering from a car has become an epidemic,” said sponsor Rep. Steve Howitt (R-Seekonk). “It is not only costly to the state for cleanup but is unsightly. Allowing a police officer to write a citation will simplify the legal process.”

ICE OR SNOW ON CARS (H 3474): The Transportation Committee’s agenda also included legislation that would require drivers on public roads to make reasonable efforts to remove accumulated ice or snow from their vehicle including the hood, trunk and roof within 24 hours after the end of the falling snow or ice. A driver who violates this new law may be stopped on a public roadway by a police officer if the officer believes the accumulated ice or snow may pose a threat to persons or property.

“I sponsored this bill after receiving calls from many constituents each time we have a significant snowfall,” said sponsor Rep. Tom Walsh (D-Peabody). “Every year we watch the news stories of snow and ice damaging windshields and sometimes causing personal injury. It may sound simple, but not if you’re a victim.”

MASS MADE (H 229/S 139): The Community Development and Small Businesses Committee held a hearing on a measure that would create a MassMade program designed to identify, connect and support businesses that produce consumer goods in Massachusetts; identify obstacles to conducting business in the Bay State; and act as a resource for consumers seeking consumer goods made in Massachusetts. MassMade would develop a searchable online directory of Massachusetts-based manufacturers and consumer goods companies, helping to connect them with potential customers.

“We all know the benefits of shopping locally and keeping our consumer dollars circulating here in the commonwealth,” said House sponsor Rep. Josh Cutler (D-Duxbury). “Knowing which goods and products are ‘MassMade’ makes that goal a lot easier.”

“Promoting businesses that are headquartered or produce goods right here in Massachusetts is not only a boost to the businesses themselves, it benefits our commonwealth as a whole as well,” said Senate sponsor Sen. John Velis (D-Westfield). “These are jobs and key players in our local economy. This bill seeks to support those businesses that choose to invest in our state while providing a user-friendly way for consumers to find where and how they can purchase those products that have ties to our communities.”

QUOTABLE QUOTES

“As business owners strive to fully staff their operations, lawmakers on Beacon Hill seek ways to expand time-off policies that make it more difficult for employers to find candidates to fill open positions. Employers attempt to hire, yet policymakers propose new job posting requirements.”

— National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) Massachusetts Director Christopher Carlozzi on a report that 43 percent of business owners reported job openings they could not fill in the current period.

“When Daylight Saving Time ends, drivers may not be used to darkness when they head home from work – or their sleep schedules might not have fully adjusted. Since the evenings are darker, visibility and alertness are key – so drivers must be extra vigilant as we adjust to the time change.”

— Mark Schieldrop, Senior Spokesperson for AAA Northeast on the November 4 switch to Eastern Standard Time.

“Companies who employ young workers must comply with our child labor laws and provide a safe and fair environment for them, My office remains committed to protecting the health and well-being of the state’s youngest workers, ensuring their rights are protected, and that companies are complying with the rules we have in place.”

— Attorney General Andrea Campbell announcing her office has resolved two matters for a combined total of more than $1 million concerning thousands of child labor violations against Dunkin’ franchisees.

“The name ‘MassAbility’ centers the strengths and capabilities of the community we serve, and it more fully captures the range of services that the agency offers. We are proposing this change to reduce stigma for the disability community and to help ensure that no one is left behind as we pursue a strong economy for everyone in this post pandemic era.

— Gov. Maura Healey upon filing legislation to rename the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission (MRC) to MassAbility, to better represent the agency’s role in helping those with disabilities gain autonomy and independence.

Bob Katzen welcomes feedback at bob@beaconhillrollcall.com