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Everett – January 6, 2023 – Volume 47-Report No. 52

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If you have any questions about this week’s report, e-mail us at bob@beaconhillrollcall.com or call us at (617) 720-1562.

Beacon Hill Roll Call

Volume 47-Report No. 52

December 26-30, 2022

Copyright © 2022 Beacon Hill Roll Call. All Rights Reserved.

By Bob Katzen 

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   THE HOUSE AND SENATE: There were no roll calls in the House or Senate last week. This week, Beacon Hill Roll Call concludes its series on highlighting bills that were approved by the Legislature in 2022 on roll call votes and signed into law by Gov. Charlie Baker.


   Senate 38-0, (House on a voice vote without a roll call), approved and Gov. Charlie Baker signed into law legislation that would require EMS personnel to provide emergency treatment to a police dog and use an ambulance to transport the dog injured in the line of duty to a veterinary clinic or veterinary hospital if there are not people requiring emergency medical treatment or transport at that time. 

   Sponsor Sen. Mark Montigny (D-New Bedford) first filed the bill in 2019 following the tragic death of Yarmouth Police Sgt. Sean Gannon who was shot and killed in the line of duty. His K-9 partner Nero was severely injured and had to be rushed to the animal hospital in the back of a police cruiser. Nero survived. Montigny also cites the heartbreaking loss of the beloved K-9 Kitt of the Braintree Police Department.

   “K-9 officers protect the men and women in law enforcement as well as the community at-large,” said Montigny. “These animals endure extreme danger from gun violence, narcotics and even explosive materials. Allowing our emergency personnel to provide basic treatment and transport is a commonsense measure that honors their contributions across the commonwealth. Sgt. Gannon was a native son of New Bedford and therefore his K-9 partner Nero is part of our community’s extended family. Words cannot describe the gratitude we have for the Gannon family for their tenacious and compassionate advocacy to get this bill done.”

   “With Nero’s Law, we have the opportunity to save K-9 members of law enforcement where the opportunity to do so would not place a person at risk,” said Sen. Susan Moran (D-Falmouth). “K-9s are their officers’ partners, shields and scouts. Like Nero and Kitt, their job is to put themselves in danger to protect us, and despite the K-9s’ service to our commonwealth, an archaic law stood in the way of measures that could save these valued members of law enforcement. This has gone on long enough.”

   (A “Yes” vote is for the bill.)

Sen. Sal DiDomenicoYes                                     


   Senate 39-0, (House on a voice vote without a roll call), approved and the governor signed into law a bill that repeals a law which prohibits adoption of children by family members including older siblings, aunts and uncles. The proposal would allow these family members, with the permission of the county probate courts, to legally adopt their family members. Current law only allows these family members to apply to become a guardian. 

   Sponsor Sen. Joan Lovely (D-Salem) said that this archaic law was put in place at the beginning of the last century to prevent the potential for inheritance abuse, but the commonwealth has since adopted legal protections, such as conservatorships, to prevent this from occurring.

   “Our families are often our largest sources of support and what a family looks like can mean different things to different people,” said Lovely. “I filed [the bill] to better reflect the realities of the lives of Massachusetts residents who love and care for one another … our most vulnerable youth deserve to be cared for by the people who know and love them, and who can best assess their needs.”

   (A “Yes” vote is for the bill.)

Sen. Sal DiDomenicoYes                                     


   Senate 40-0, (House on a voice vote without a roll call), approved and Gov. Baker signed legislation giving equal access to original birth certificates to all persons born in Massachusetts.


   Under prior law, adoptees born between 1974 and 2008 were unable to obtain original birth certificates without a court order that also unseals their record. The measure closes this gap and allows adopted individuals over the age of 18 or the adoptive parents of a child under 18 to access the adoptee’s original birth certificate without the unsealing of the information.

   “The Joint Committee on Public Health heard powerful testimony from adoptees who could not access their original birth certificate due to a current loophole in state law addressed by this legislation,” said Sen. Jo Comerford (D-Northampton), Senate Chair of the Committee on Public Health.

    “The Senate took a major step in assuring equality by guaranteeing that all adoptees, regardless of when they were born, will have access to their original birth certificate,” said Sen. Anne Gobi (D-Spencer), sponsor of the bill. She noted that she has waited six years for its passage and that so many have waited their entire lives. “We tell them the wait is over and they matter,” said Gobi.

   “Many adoptees have been waiting their whole lives to learn their history, and I am honored to have played a part in helping them access their original birth certificates,” said Sen. Joan Lovely (D-Salem). “For the sake of preserving our health and well-being, it is crucial to know what physical or mental health conditions to which we may be predisposed. By giving all adoptees born in Massachusetts access to their original birth certificates, this legislation closes a 34-year gap granting generations of individuals medical knowledge they have otherwise been denied.”

   (A “Yes” vote is for the bill.)

Sen. Sal DiDomenicoYes                                     


   Senate 39-0, (House on a voice vote without a roll call), approved and Gov. Baker  signed into law a bill designed to make mental health care more accessible in the Bay State.  

   Provisions include mandating coverage for an annual mental health wellness exam, comparable to an annual physical; a public awareness campaign on the state’s red flag laws that limit access to guns for people at risk of hurting themselves or others; implementation of the nationwide 988 hotline to access 24/7 suicide prevention and behavioral health crisis services; mandating coverage and eliminating prior authorization for mental health acute treatment and stabilization services for adults and children; establishing an Office of Behavioral Health Promotion to coordinate all state initiatives that promote mental, emotional and behavioral health and wellness for residents; and creating an interim licensure level for licensed mental health counselors so that they can be reimbursed by insurance for their services and be eligible for state and federal grant and loan forgiveness programs.

   “The Massachusetts Legislature took vital strides toward transforming mental health care in Massachusetts,” said Sen. Julian Cyr (D-Truro), Senate chair of the Committee on Mental Health, Substance Use and Recovery. “By unanimously passing the Mental Health ABC Act, we affirm that mental health is just as essential as physical health and take a leap forward to ensure that all people in Massachusetts can access the mental health care they need and deserve.”

   “Too many people in communities across the commonwealth struggle to get the mental, emotional and behavioral health care they deserve,” said Rep. Adrian Madaro (D-Boston), House Chair of the Joint Committee on Mental Health, Substance Use and Recovery. “This legislation helps reduce barriers to resources, support, and treatment residents need for their overall wellbeing. It enables enforcement of existing parity laws, enhances emergency response services and acute psychiatric care, develops programs to strengthen the workforce and invests in mental health. Importantly, our legislation also creates initiatives to address the unique mental health needs of young people. This legislation is the first step in addressing the structural deficits in our mental health care delivery system by prioritizing the people it serves and the people who make it work.”

   “The health care system in Massachusetts is only as strong as its weakest link, and for far too long, mental health care has been overlooked and underfunded,” said Sen. Cindy Friedman (D-Arlington), Senate Chair of the  Committee on Health Care Financing. “This legislation confronts this reality with the most comprehensive mental health care legislation the commonwealth has seen in recent years, and it builds off of the historic investments we made in this care system over this past two-year legislative session. Of particular importance to me, this bill will finally provide the state the tools it needs to enforce existing mental health parity laws and it will address the emergency department boarding crisis that’s impacting too many of our children and their families. I have long believed that Massachusetts should deliver affordable, high quality, and accessible care to its residents, and this includes mental health care.”

   (A “Yes” vote is for the bill.)

Sen. Sal DiDomenicoYes                                     


PAY HIKES FOR LEGISLATORS, MAURA HEALEY AND OTHERS – The governor, lt. governor, treasurer, secretary of state, attorney general, auditor, 40 senators and 160 representatives will all receive pay raises when they assume office on January 3, 2023.

Here’s how it all went down last week:

Outgoing Gov. Charlie Baker announced that the 200 members of the Legislature will receive a 4.42 percent pay hike for the 2023-2024 legislative session that begins January 3, 2023. The hike will increase the base salary of each senator and representative by $3,117 per year— from the current $70,537 to $73,654. The total cost of the hike for all 200 legislators is $623,400 per year.

Baker is required under the state constitution to determine the amount of a pay raise or cut that state legislators would receive for the 2023-2024 session. All Massachusetts governors are obligated to increase or decrease legislative salaries biennially under the terms of a constitutional amendment approved by the voters in 1998. The amendment, approved by a better than two-to-one margin, requires legislative salaries to be “increased or decreased at the same rate as increases or decreases in the median household income for the commonwealth for the preceding two-year period, as ascertained by the governor.” 

Looking back, legislators’ salaries were increased by $4,280 per year for the 2021-2022 legislative session, $3,709 per year for the 2019-2020 legislative session and $2,525 per year for the 2017-2018 session. Those hikes came on the heels of a salary freeze for the 2015-2016 legislative session, a $1,100 pay cut for the 2013-2014 session and a $306 pay cut for the 2011-2012 session. Prior to 2011, legislators’ salaries had been raised every two years since the pre-constitutional amendment base pay of $46,410 in 1998. The new $73,654 salary means the 1998 legislative salary of $46,410 has been raised $27,244 or 58.7 percent.

In the meantime, a second pay hike for close to 70 percent of the state’s 200 legislators also takes effect January 3. Currently an estimated 139, or almost 70 percent, of the state’s 200 legislators receive a stipend for their service in Democratic or Republican leadership positions, as committee chairs or vice chairs and as the ranking Republican on some committees. All 40 senators and 99 of the 160 representatives receive this bonus pay which currently ranges from $17,039 to $90,876. Legislation approved by the Legislature in 2017 requires that every two years the stipends of these 139 legislators be increased or decreased based on data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) that measures the quarterly change in salaries and wages. That formula will raise the stipend in 2023 for all of these 139 legislators. The biggest hike goes to House Speaker Ron Mariano and Senate President Karen Spilka’s whose salaries will rise from $178,473 to more than $214,000.

And there’s more. The 2017 law also requires that every two years the salaries of the governor and the other five constitutional statewide officers be increased or decreased based on the same data from the BEA. Incoming Gov. Healey’s salary will increase by $37,185 above Baker’s current $185,000 salary for a total of $222,185. Healey also will receive the governor’s standard $65,000 housing allowance bringing her total annual compensation $287,185 in 2023. Incoming Lt. Governor Kim Driscoll’s pay will increase by $33.165– from $165,000 to $198,165 under the 2017 law.

Supporters defend the hikes noting that voters themselves in 1998 approved the adjustment for all future legislators every two years and that two independent commissions had recommended many of the other hikes in 2017.  They say that pay raises of any type are always the subject of disagreement. They note it is important to pay government officials a salary adequate enough to enable a family breadwinner or a professional to run for the office and serve.

Critics of the hikes were quick to respond. “It appears the first act the Legislature and Statehouse leaders are set to take after the narrow passage of Question 1 is to accept a 20 percent pay raise,” said Paul Craney, spokesman for Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance. “Voters were told the 80 percent income tax hike in Question 1 would go to education and transportation needs but Statehouse leaders are taking care of themselves before anyone else with their largest pay raise since 2017. Question 1 is set to raise taxes … and for many small business owners, retirees, home sales and high-income earners, they will be shocked to see their taxes go up by 80 percent.”

   4 PERCENT INCOME TAX HIKE ON EARNINGS OVER $1 MILLION ANNUALLY TAKES EFFECT JANUARY 1 – Beginning with 2023 earnings, taxpayers who earn more than $1 million annually will pay an additional 4 percent income tax, in addition to the current flat 5 percent one, on their earnings of more than $1 million annually. Language in this new constitutional amendment, approved as Question 1 by voters in November 2022, requires that “subject to appropriation” the revenue will go to fund quality public education, affordable public colleges and universities and for the repair and maintenance of roads, bridges and public transportation. 

   “Our coalition of community organizations, faith-based groups, and labor unions is committed to protecting the will of the people as expressed through Question 1: higher taxes on those who can most afford them, and greater investment in transportation and public education across the state,” said Steve Crawford, spokesman for Raise Up Massachusetts, the group that spearheaded the Vote Yes on Question 1 campaign and promoted the question as the Fair Share Amendment. “We will work with state leaders to ensure that the new revenue from the Fair Share Amendment is directed toward critical investments in our classrooms, campuses and transportation systems. And we will fight any efforts to weaken the Fair Share Amendment by creating new tax breaks, avoidance schemes or giveaways for the ultra-rich.”

   “For some taxpayers, Question 1 will mean an 80 percent increase to their state income tax,” said Paul Craney, spokesman for the Mass Fiscal Alliance. “The taxpayers that will be impacted by this are small business owners, retirees, home sales and high-income earners. The only appropriate response by the speaker, Senate president and Governor Elect Maura Healey is to support broad tax cuts and tax eliminations that everyone will benefit from. Massachusetts is on the verge of returning to the days of Taxachusetts unless these broad tax cuts are adopted and they must be done so very quickly because the negative impacts associated from Question 1 will not wait.”

   REVENGE PORN (S 3167) – Senate approved a proposal that would prohibit the posting of sexually explicit images of another person online without their permission—commonly referred to as “revenge porn.” The practice is often used by ex-spouses or ex-partners. Massachusetts is one of only two states that does not have a law about this crime.

   Another provision changes current law under which minors, under 18 years of age, who share explicit images of themselves or other minors can be charged with violating Massachusetts child pornography laws and are required to register with the Sex Offender Registry. The bill allows minors to be diverted to an educational program that would provide them with information about the consequences of posting or transmitting indecent visual depictions of minors.

   Sen. Jamie Eldridge (D-Acton), the Senate chair of the Judiciary Committee, said the bill addresses the highly charged subjects of juvenile sexting and revenge porn. “I’m pleased that the Senate is taking action on a unified bill this week,” said Eldridge. “I commend the victims for their passionate advocacy and applaud their courage in coming forward to tell their stories.”

   “Under current law, when faced with an incident of sexting among teenagers, the police are forced with either charging them with a felony or doing nothing,” said sponsor Rep. Jeff Roy (D-Franklin). “The bill … provides law enforcement officers with a middle ground that will allow them to educate kids about the consequences of their actions without ruining their lives. It will have a tremendous impact on people who have become entangled in the web and transmittal of images that can cause traumatic and lifetime harm through a diversion program that will educate them about the legal and personal consequences of ‘sexting.’”

   The House approved a different version of the measure in May. The Senate version now goes to the House for consideration.

   THEFT OF CATALYTIC CONVERTERS (S 3169) – The House approved and sent to the Senate a bill that would create a “chain of custody” for used catalytic converter sales. A catalytic converter is a device that converts the environmentally hazardous exhaust emitted by a vehicle’s engine into less harmful gasses. The measure requires the buyer to keep records of each converter purchased, from which vehicle it was removed from and who the seller was. These records would be made available upon request to law enforcement.

   Supporters explained that several communities have seen a rise in catalytic converter thefts because the converters use platinum, palladium or rhodium to operate. According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, the values of these precious metals contained inside catalytic converters have skyrocketed and is staggering. As of March 2022, rhodium is valued at $20,000 per ounce; palladium at $2,938 per ounce; and platinum at $1,128 per ounce. For thieves, this means a catalytic converter might be a better score than the average wedding band or gold watch.

   “Many scrapyards and black-market buyers have an open call out for catalytic converters, which they turn around and sell to metal recyclers,” says the Cavallo and Signoriello Insurance Agency in Massachusetts. “Ten years ago, a thief could earn between $20 and $200 per stolen converter. Today, thanks to the spike in the value of these metals, that range is more like $300 to $850, for just a few minutes of work.” 

   “Catalytic theft is an epidemic,” said House sponsor Rep. Steve Howitt (R-Seekonk). “It is not only very costly to the vehicle owner, if they do not have comprehensive insurance, it creates an inconvenience to have repairs done. This bill would try to tighten up the market in Massachusetts for these thieves to pawn their stolen goods.”

   The House approved a different version of the measure in October. The Senate version now goes to the House for consideration.

   MINIMUM WAGE HIKE FROM $14.25 TO $15 PER HOUR EFFECTIVE JANUARY 1 – Effective January 1, 2023 the state’s minimum wage rises from $14.25 per hour to $15 per hour. This hike is the final one of five annual increases mandated by a law passed in 2018 that has brough the minimum wage from $11 per hour in 2018 to the current $15 per hour.

   In addition, the minimum wage for tipped workers will increase from $6.15 per hour to $6.75 per hour—provided that their tips bring them up to at least $15 per hour. If the total hourly rate for the employee including tips does not equal $15 at the end of a shift, the employer is required to make up the difference. 

   “I’m pleased to see this scheduled increase to our minimum wage go into effect,” said Rep. Josh Cutler (D-Duxbury), House chair of the Labor and Workforce Development Committee. “It is welcome news for many workers, though clearly more help is needed to support hardworking families struggling with rising costs.”


   “With high inflation, worker shortages and supply chain disruptions, the upcoming minimum wage increase is just the latest challenge for Massachusetts small business owners,” said Christopher Carlozzi, the Massachusetts state director of the National Federation of Independent Business. “With the cost of labor rising, the price tag of products and services will also rise, and those costs will likely be passed to consumers. Main Street and consumers need relief but unfortunately this wage hike will only create more uncertainty.”

   “It’s time for a truly universal minimum wage that keeps up with rising costs and supports working families,” said Chrissy Lynch, Chief of Staff of the Massachusetts AFL-CIO. “Our coalition of community organizations, faith-based groups and labor unions is looking at how to get us closer to that goal. And we won’t stop until working people across the state have true living wages.”

   “While it’s important to help those who are most vulnerable, an increase to the state minimum wage rate actually does the opposite,” said Paul Craney, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance. “Massachusetts will have the highest minimum wage rate of all the states in New England. This will further incentivize retail chains to continue to automate jobs that otherwise could have gone to minimum wage workers. Once this job is eliminated, it does not come back. The result will be higher costs for the consumer, higher costs for businesses and less available minimum wage jobs for workers who need to enter our workforce.”

   “Despite the progress we’ve made, the minimum wage is still insufficient to meet the needs of working families, especially amid rising inflation,” said Beth Kontos, president of the Massachusetts branch of the American Federation of Teachers. “And some workers are still not covered by the minimum wage, including municipal workers who have devoted their lives to public service and deserve more than poverty wages.”

   INFLAMMATORY BREAST CANCER (H 3147) – The House approved a bill that would establish an Inflammatory Breast Cancer Awareness Day in Massachusetts, the second Tuesday of every October. 

  “I was thrilled that my colleagues and I were able to pass this very important piece of legislation,” said sponsor Rep. Sean Garballey (D-Arlington). “This designation will go a long way to increase awareness and strengthen efforts to provide education about this rare and aggressive disease. Inflammatory Breast Cancer is the most aggressive form of breast cancer and the least understood. Many women receiving this diagnosis have never heard of Inflammatory Breast Cancer or its presentation. Inflammatory Breast Cancer accounts for 1 percent to 5 percent of all breast cancer cases yet represents 10 percent of all deaths due to breast cancer.”


   “A goal of the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources is to help keep the state’s food supply safe and secure. By assisting farmers with grants and technical assistance, the Baker-Polito Administration is helping to modernize their operations, open new market channels and meet regulatory requirements that will directly benefit farmers and consumers of their products.”   

   —Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources Commissioner John Lebeaux announcing $1 million in grants to Massachusetts farms to implement practices that improve food safety within their operations. 

   “Keeping the commonwealth’s workforce safe is important to both employees and employers as well as the greater community. These Safety Grants will provide training and education that helps promote safe and healthy conditions in the workplace.”

   —Secretary of Labor and Workforce Development Rosalin Acosta announcing $800,000 in Workplace Safety Grants.

   All women have a fundamental right to access safe and affordable abortion. But on the Cape and Islands, women have been forced for years to make expensive trips off-Cape or out of state to access abortion services. This funding to Health Imperatives, which has locations on Martha’s Vineyard and Barnstable, breaks down barriers to care and gives women across the Cape and Islands access to this fundamental healthcare right.”

   —Rep. Dylan Fernandez (D-Falmouth) on $4.1 million in grants awarded to reproductive health organizations including some on the Cape and Islands.

  “As the Lottery’s 50th anniversary celebration approaches the end, what better time to introduce the $50 ticket to begin our next 50 years? Our customers had been requesting this ticket for some time. After careful consideration, the Lottery has what we believe will provide them with the entirely new level of excitement they have been seeking.” 

   —State Treasurer Deb Goldberg, the chair of the Massachusetts State Lottery Commission, announcing the upcoming sale, beginning February 7th, of the Lottery’s first $50 instant scratch ticket which will offer over $1 billion in total winnings and feature a $25 million instant win prize, the largest in Mass Lottery history.

   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 December 26-30, the House met for a total of 11 hours and 22 minutes and the Senate met for a total of seven hours and 53 minutes.

Mon.   Dec. 26   No House session

                 No Senate session 

Tues.  Dec. 27   House 11:01 a.m. to   2:00 p.m.                   

                 Senate 11:15 a.m. to   2:13 p.m.


Wed.   Dec. 28   No House session

                 No Senate session 

Thurs. Dec. 29   House 11:03 a.m. to   7:26 p.m.                

                 Senate 11:23 a.m. to   4:18 p.m. 

Fri.   Dec. 30   No House session

                 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.

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