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Beacon Hill Roll Call Volume 48 – Report No. 48 November 27-December 1, 2023 Copyright © 2023 Beacon Hill Roll Call. All Rights Reserved.

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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 2023 session through December 1.


The House has held 70 roll calls so far in 2023. Beacon Hill Roll Call tabulates the number of roll calls on which each representative was present and voting, and then calculates 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.


In the House, 70.6 percent (113 representatives out of 160) did not miss any roll calls and have 100 percent roll call attendance records, while 29.4 percent (47 representatives out of 160) have missed one or more roll calls.


There were 13 representatives who missed eight or more roll calls resulting in roll call attendance records below 90 percent. The four representatives who missed the most roll calls are Reps. Michelle Ciccolo (D-Lexington), Richard Haggerty (D-Woburn), Daniel Hunt (D-Dorchester) and Joan Meschino (D-Hull) who each missed 25 roll calls for a 64.2 percent roll call attendance record.


Rounding out the list of 13 representatives who missed eight or more roll calls are the following: Reps. Tram Nguyen (D-Andover) who missed 23 roll calls (67.1 percent roll call attendance record); Mary Keefe (D-Worcester) who missed 13 roll calls (81.4 percent roll call attendance record); Kenneth Gordon (D-Bedford) and Chynah Tyler (D-Roxbury) who each missed 12 roll calls (82.8 percent roll call attendance record); Tricia Farley-Bouvier (D-Pittsfield), Adam Scanlon (D-North Attleborough), Kim Ferguson (R-Holden), and Fred Barrows (R-Mansfield) who each missed nine roll calls (87.1 percent roll call attendance record); and Margaret Scarsdale (D-Pepperell) who missed eight roll calls (88.5 percent roll call attendance record.


Beacon Hill Roll Call contacted the 13 representatives to ask why they missed some roll calls. Only five of the 13 responded. The other eight were contacted three times but did not respond. The list of nonrespondents consists of Reps. Nguyen, Keefe, Gordon, Tyler, Farley-Bouvier, Scanlon, Ferguson and Barrows.


Here are the responses:


Rep. Hunt responded: “Up until this date I have not missed a roll call. Last minute, I had to go get my child from daycare because they had a fever. I’ve previously voted in favor of the budget line items and the tax proposal.”


Rep. Scarsdale responded: “On September 27 I had to leave the chamber subsequent to roll call #49 due to a preplanned meeting with first responders in my district. This is the only day I have left the chamber during roll call votes during my tenure. I therefore missed roll calls #50 through #57. [Acting] Speaker Alice Peisch made a statement on the floor reflecting the reason I had to leave, and the fact that had I been present I would have voted in the affirmative for all eight of those roll calls, and this statement is recorded in the House Journal for the day. All eight of those votes resulted in an affirmative outcome either unanimously or by a substantial margin.”


Rep. Haggerty responded: “I missed a single day of voting this session on September 27, 2023, when I was unfortunately not able to attend a session due to a family commitment. The first roll call vote was for the tax relief legislation which I had previously voted in favor of, and I would have voted in favor of again. The remaining procedural votes were overrides of the governor’s budget vetoes which were budget items I had previously voted in favor of. I would have voted in favor of each of those as well.”


Rep. Ciccolo responded: “This session, I was away from the House chamber during [a] formal session on a single day: September 27th, to attend a work-related conference at which I was learning about single use plastic reduction strategies through reuse and refill.  This was the day the budget overrides were being taken up and H 4104 was being enacted.  There were an unusually high number of roll call votes on that single day.  Fortunately, the vast majority of the items voted on were items on which I had previously voted during the budget and during H 4104’s original engrossment, so my record in the affirmative on these matters should be clear.”


Rep. Meschino responded: “I was traveling internationally in September when the House scheduled a formal session. I made the commitment well over 15 months earlier. I had no way to know [what] the session schedule would be.  The House voted [for] two conference committee reports and a series of budget veto overrides. I only missed the one day of formal session, but the House took up quite a few votes that day.”



The percentage listed next to the representatives’ name is the percentage of roll call votes on which the representative voted. The number in parentheses represents the number of roll calls that he or she missed.




Rep. Joseph McGonagle         100 percent (0)





BAN HOSTILE ARCHITECTURE THAT TARGETS THE HOMELESS (H 3963) – The State Administration and Regulatory Oversight Committee held a hearing on a proposal that would prohibit the state, the MBTA and cities and towns from constructing “hostile architecture” that supporters of the ban say targets the homeless and tries to push them out of certain areas. The bill defines hostile architecture as “any building or structure that is designed or intended to prevent unhoused individuals from sitting or lying on the building or structure at street level.”


According to Robert Rosenberger, an associate professor of philosophy at Georgia Institute of Technology, who has studied and written extensively on the subject, hostile architecture includes armrests that divide benches so that the bench is not long enough to sleep on, sprinklers that are turned on at night and certain trash cans. “Garbage cans … serve several functions for people living unhoused,” said Rosenberger. “Some people use garbage cans as a source of recyclable materials [which] can often be exchanged for a small sum of money. Garbage cans are also sometimes approached as a source of discarded food.” He notes that many newer garbage cans are built so that people cannot reach inside them to obtain recycled bottles or cans or leftover food.


Supporters say that family homelessness in Greater Boston has doubled over the last decade, shelters are overcrowded and waiting lists for affordable housing are in the tens of thousands. They note that policies that sterilize the homelessness crisis in public spaces are not only inhumane, but they also only serve to mask the problem.


“Housing ought to be a human right and combating homelessness will require a comprehensive approach that includes housing production, tenant protections and bigger investments in affordability and services,” said sponsor Rep. Mike Connolly (D-Cambridge). “What will not work is designing public spaces that are hostile to unhoused people. This only sends the issue deeper into the shadows.”


BAN SOME ARTIFICIAL TURFS (H 3948) – Another measure heard by the State Administration and Regulatory Oversight Committee would ban municipalities and the state from installing or subsidizing new artificial turf fields that contain zinc, plastic, perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), or other toxins. It would not affect current turf fields which would be grandfathered in under the bill, but it would assure that no new public artificial turf construction would take place.


“Based on the growing body of evidence that shows that these turf fields pose a danger for athletes from heat stress, severe abrasions and toxic chemical exposure, and cause substantial environmental harm to the local environment,” said sponsor Rep. Carmine Gentile (D-Sudbury). “These concerns have led the U.S. Men and Women’s soccer teams to stop playing on turf, and have compelled towns and cities, including Boston, to issue moratoriums on new turf construction.”


GUN LEGISLATION – The Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee held a hearing on several bills dealing with guns including these three:


GHOST GUNS (S 1496) – Would make ghost guns illegal in Massachusetts. Sponsor Sen. Cindy Creem (D-Newton) explains that ghost guns are unfinished firearms that allow individuals to easily build their own guns from unregulated kits. “Once constructed, these firearms are unserialized and untraceable,” she said. “To address this loophole, this bill would make it illegal to manufacture, sell or purchase any firearm without a valid serial number, which would include the unfinished frames and receivers. In addition, this bill would make it illegal to manufacture, or 3D print, firearms without a license.


“I filed this legislation, because although Massachusetts has some of the strongest gun laws in the country, these laws are being undermined by the proliferation and availability of these untraceable ghost guns,” continued Creem. “We cannot sit idly by as people continue to exploit this loophole to skirt our state’s firearms regulations and contribute to gun violence across the commonwealth.”


CANNOT CONFISCATE LEGAL GUNS (S 1513) – Would prohibit police, other law enforcement officers and other government officials from confiscating any lawfully owned firearm, rifle, shotgun, machinegun or ammunition. A civil fine of between $500 and $5,000 or up to a 2.5-year prison sentence would be imposed for each confiscated weapon. The legislation does not prohibit the confiscation of a firearm from any person who has been placed under arrest, is the subject of a protection order or has had their firearm identification card or license to carry revoked or suspended.


“I filed this legislation to provide lawful Massachusetts gun owners an extra guarantee of their Second Amendment rights,” said sponsor Sen. Ryan Fattman (R-Sutton). “This bill would make it unlawful for police or other government officials acting on behalf of the commonwealth to seize legally owned weapons in the event that a state of emergency is declared in the commonwealth.”


RAISE THE AGE FOR GUN POSSESSION (H 2369) – Would raise the minimum age for acquiring a Firearm Identification Card (FID) from 18 years old (or 14-17 years of age with parental consent) to 21 years old. FID permits the purchase, possession and transportation of non-large-capacity rifles, shotguns and ammunition.


“So much of gun violence can be attributed to accidents that occur with minors,” said sponsor Rep. David Linsky (D-Natick). “My hope is that everyone who has an FID card is responsible enough to own a firearm, and that starts with being of the appropriate age and maturity.”


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.

   During the week of November 27-December 2, the House met for a total of 13 hours and 58 minutes while the Senate met for a total of 12 hours and 41 minutes.

   Mon.   Nov. 27 House 11:01 a.m. to 2:59 p.m. 

                  Senate 11:08 a.m. to 3:40 p.m.

  Tues.  Nov. 28 No House session

                  No Senate session

Wed.   Mon. 29   House 11:02 a.m. to 11:14 a.m.

                 Senate 11:12 a.m. to 11:22 a.m.

Thurs. Nov. 30   House 11:00 a.m. to 6:02 p.m.

                 Senate 11:10 a.m. to 6:18 p.m.

Fri.   Dec. 1    House 11:02 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. 

                 Senate 1:21 p.m. to 2:12 p.m.

Sat.   Dec. 2    House 11:02 a.m. to 11:20 a.m.

                 No Senate session


   Bob Katzen welcomes feedback at bob@beaconhillrollcall.com

   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.




“I promise all the constituents of this district that I will work hard to ensure that your interests are represented on Beacon Hill. I will work continuously to make a positive difference for our district and our commonwealth. I will always stand with the taxpayers, help small businesses and ensure that our state government is accountable.”

—Sen. Peter Durant (R-Spencer) upon being sworn into the Senate to fill the seat vacated by Former Sen. Anne Gobi.


“Using creativity as a foundation, our cultural districts have proven themselves as drivers of economic activity within communities. With this investment, we’re not only supporting the creative and cultural sector, but the communities that host cultural districts as they continue to leverage their unique character to attract visitors and support economic growth.”

—Michael Bobbitt, Executive Director of the Mass Cultural Council, announcing $810,000 in grants funding 54 state-designated cultural districts to encourage the development and success of the cultural districts and foster local cultural preservation.


“I am proud of my team’s dedication in securing a settlement with Rent-A-Center, which sadly utilized egregious tactics to target and exploit low-income communities for profit. My office will continue to protect all consumers from harmful and exploitive practices by those who do business in our state.”

—Attorney General Andrea Campell announcing the state will receive $8.75 million from a settlement with Rent-A-Center to resolve allegations that the company engaged in a pattern of unfair and deceptive business practices against consumers in violation of state consumer protection laws.


“Nourishing and healthy food is grown right here in Massachusetts, but not all of our residents have access to these local farms. This funding will help bridge that gap by investing in our Buy Local organizations, farmers and environmental justice communities. Everyone, regardless of race or income, deserves access to fresh, local products.”

— Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Rebecca Tepper announcing $800,000 in grants to support the efforts of ten regional Buy Local organizations that work to help generate consumer awareness and demand for locally grown food products

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