THE HOUSE AND SENATE: There were no roll calls in the House or Senate last week. This week, Beacon Hill Roll Call reports on the percentage of times local representatives voted with their party’s leadership in the 2023 session through September 1.
The votes of the 2023 membership of 133 Democrats were compared to House Speaker Ron Mariano (D-Quincy). The votes of the 2023 membership of 24 Republicans were compared with those of GOP House Minority Leader Brad Jones (R-North Reading). Beacon Hill Roll Call uses 32 votes from the 2023 House session as the basis for this report. This includes all roll calls that were not quorum calls or votes on local issues.
Rep. Susannah Whipps (U-Athol) is unenrolled and not affiliated with either the Republican or Democratic party. We based her voting record on how many times she voted differently than Democratic House Speaker Ron Mariano.
THE DEMOCRATS: A total of 127 (95.5 percent) of the 133 Democrats voted the same as Mariano 100 percent of the time. There were only six Democratic representatives who voted differently than Mariano on any roll calls.
The representative who voted the most times differently than Mariano was Rep. Erika Uyterhoeven (D-Somerville) who voted differently three times. The other five representatives who voted differently than Mariano were Reps. Russell Holmes (D-Boston), Mike Connolly (D-Cambridge) and Colleen Garry (D-Dracut) who each voted differently twice; and Danillo Sena (D-Acton) and Jeff Turco (D-Winthrop) who voted differently once.
THE REPUBLICANS: Twenty-one (87.5 percent) of the 24 GOP members voted the same as Jones 100 percent of the time. There were only three Republican representatives who voted differently than Jones on any roll calls.
The representatives who voted differently than Jones were Reps. Marc Lombardo (R-Billerica) and Nicholas Boldyga (R-Southwick) who each voted differently than Jones two times; and David DeCoste (R-Norwell) who voted differently than Jones once.
REPRESENTATIVES’ SUPPORT OF THEIR PARTY’S LEADERSHIP IN 2023 THROUGH SEPTEMBER 1
The percentage next to the representative’s name represents the percentage of times the representative supported his or her party’s leadership so far in 2023. The number in parentheses represents the number of times the representative opposed his or her party’s leadership.
Some representatives voted on all 32 roll call votes. Others missed one or more roll calls. The percentage for each representative is calculated based on the number of roll calls on which he or she voted.
Rep. Jessica Giannino 100 percent (0) Rep. Donald Wong 100 percent (0)
ALSO UP ON BEACON HILL
GOV. HEALEY ACTIVATES NATIONAL GUARD FOR SHELTERS – Gov. Maura Healey issued an order activating up to 250 National Guard members to provide basic services at emergency shelter hotels across the state that do not currently have a contracted service provider.
“Massachusetts is in a state of emergency, and we need all hands-on deck to meet this moment and ensure families have access to safe shelter and basic services,” said Healey. “We’re grateful to the brave men and women of the National Guard for stepping up to help us ensure that every family in emergency shelter has their needs met, including access to food, transportation, medical care and education. While we work to implement a more permanent staffing solution, the National Guard will provide an efficient and effective means of delivering these services and keeping everybody safe.”
“The National Guard should be sent to the southern border and Gov. Healey should be going down there with them to see firsthand the failure President Biden has created,” responded Paul Craney, spokesman for Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance. “Why should Massachusetts taxpayers be expected to continue to shoulder this burden when the president and governor continue to ignore the underlying problem for political gain? This current approach is unsustainable and if Gov. Healey wants to help Massachusetts residents, she needs to confront President Biden first.”
LIMIT FEE FOR CASHING CHECKS (H 344) – Awaiting further action by the House is a bill that would set a cap on the fees check-cashing stores and outlets are allowed to charge. The bill was given initial approval by the House on July 26 and is now in the Bills in Third Reading Committee.
The maximum charge would be 5 percent of the value of a personal check or $5, whichever is greater, plus a $1 service charge; 2.5 percent of a government check plus a $1 service charge; 2.25 percent of a payroll check plus a $1 service charge; and 3 percent of all other checks including traveler’s check, cashier’s check and certified check plus a $1 service charge.
Supporters say that of the 34 states that regulate check cashing, Massachusetts is one of eight that do not regulate the fees that may be charged. They argue these check-cashing “stores” are often located in low-income neighborhoods and take advantage of vulnerable residents.
They note the bill would provide greater consumer protections for individuals who are “unbanked” — folks who don’t have a checking, savings or money market account or who are “underbanked” — folks may have a bank account, but also rely regularly on alternative financial services outside of the mainstream banking system. Lower-income households, less educated households, Black households, Hispanic households, working-age households with a disability and single-mother households are most vulnerable to being unbanked or underbanked.
“It’s great to see that my colleagues in the Legislature are supportive of it moving forward,” says sponsor Rep. Kay Khan (D-Newton). “The bill will regulate the amount of money consumers can be charged to cash a check, which is particularly beneficial for many who do not have bank accounts but are working hard to support their families.”
RIGHTS OF UTILITY RATEPAYERS (S 2152) – The Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy will hold a hearing on September 20 on legislation that would establish ratepayer rights including requiring utility companies to provide ratepayers with a choice of the type of utility meters to be installed and operated on their places of residence or business, the ability to retain and operate an electromechanical analog meter on an ongoing basis at no cost; and the right to replace a wireless meter with a non-transmitting electromechanical meter at no cost.
“Today in Massachusetts, utilities have sweeping authority to make decisions about what power transmission equipment goes on Bay Staters’ homes and businesses without any input or recourse from occupants and ratepayers,” says sponsor Sen. Mike Moore (D-Millbury). “The passage of this bill would give residents a greater voice in utilities’ operations, allowing them to choose the type of meter they want installed. More consumer choice is a good thing for everyone.”
GREEN BANK (H 3805) – Another bill scheduled for a hearing on September 20 by the Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy Committee would create a state Green Bank that would invest in green businesses, promote research in clean tech and contribute toward an equitable energy transition by advancing workforce training in clean energy.
“We introduced this bill prior to Gov. Healey announcing the Massachusetts Community Climate Bank, which is the nation’s first green bank dedicated to affordable housing,” said sponsor Rep. Dylan Fernandes (D-Falmouth). “These complementary efforts underscore the multi-faceted approach needed to secure a sustainable future.”
“We are at a pivotal moment for transportation on Cape Cod. By revitalizing Cape commuter rail, we can expand access and opportunity for the Cape and Island residents and unlock new avenues for connectivity through the region. Cape and Islanders deserve fast, reliable transit that connects our region and workforce with the rest of the commonwealth.”
—Rep. Dylan Fernandes (D-Falmouth) on his newly filed bill that directs the MBTA to establish commuter rail service between Buzzards Bay and Boston within one year.
“As we work to address the climate crisis, we have an opportunity to right historical wrongs. This investment to the Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohicans demonstrates our administration’s commitment to building strong relationships with Indigenous communities and supporting their efforts in mitigating the impacts of climate change. We are proud to be a part of this significant first step of welcoming the Tribe back to their homeland.”
—Gov. Maura Healy announcing $31.5 million in grants for climate resilience implementation and planning across Massachusetts including two tribes that are receiving funding for the first time since eligibility was expanded by the Legislature in 2022.
“Massachusetts is moving in the wrong direction on tax policy compared to other states. At least ten states reduced their personal income tax rate on January 1, 2023, including three that switched to a flat income tax, while Massachusetts was the only state to increase income taxes. Moreover, no less than five states reduced their corporate income tax rate in 2023. Competitive tax policies are a pillar for other states that are aggressively campaigning to attract businesses and talent, while Massachusetts is falling behind.”
—Statement from the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce and the Massachusetts Society of CPAs urging the Legislature and the governor to act on a tax relief package which is still tied up in a conference committee that is trying to hammer out a compromise version since the House and Senate approved different version of the measure.
“Our fundamental charge in public service is ensuring that our services and opportunities reach everyone, and that starts with affirming and supporting constituents of all identities. Boston must continue to work to dismantle the historic inequities and injustices that persist. This update to Boston marriage licenses is a huge step in building a city that is truly inclusive, and I’m excited to see how these critical changes for accessibility at City Hall serve Bostonians.”
—Boston Mayor Michelle Wu on the city updating its marriage licenses by no longer requiring sex or gender identification on the licenses.
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 28-September 1, the House met for a total of ten minutes while the Senate met for a total of 33 minutes.
Mon. August 28 House 11:01 a.m. to 11:06 a.m.
Senate 11:10 a.m. to 11:14 a.m.
Tues. August 29 No House session
No Senate session
Wed. August 30 No House session
No Senate session
Thurs. August 31 House 11:01 a.m. to 11:06 a.m.
Senate 11:20 a.m. to 11:49 a.m.
Fri. Sept. 1 No House session
No Senate session
Bob Katzen welcomes feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org
Bob founded Beacon Hill Roll Call in 1975 and was inducted into the New England Newspaper and Press Association (NENPA) Hall of Fame in 2019.