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Beacon Hill Roll Call
Volume 47 – Report No. 29
May 9-13, 2022
Copyright © 2022 Beacon Hill Roll Call. All Rights Reserved.
By Bob Katzen
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THE HOUSE AND SENATE: Beacon Hill Roll Call records local representatives’ and senators’ votes on roll calls from late night sessions in May. There were no roll calls in the House or Senate last week.
LIFT BAN ON DOCTORS DISPENSING RXs (4700)
House 6-149, rejected an amendment that would repeal a current law that prohibits doctors from storing and dispensing some prescription medications directly to a patient.
Amendment supporters said Massachusetts is one of only four states that still bans this practice. They argued that the amendment would save patients money by eliminating a layer of middlemen and allowing doctors to offer prescription drugs at wholesale costs. They noted that patients will save a trip to the pharmacy and argued that studies indicate that compliance rates among patients will increase.
Rep. Nick Boldyga (R-Southwick), the sponsor of the amendment, did not respond to repeated requests from Beacon Hill Roll Call for a comment.
“Direct dispensing would eliminate the vital screening and counseling services performed by pharmacists at local pharmacies,” said amendment opponent Rep. Adrian Madaro (D-East Boston). “Decentralizing the dispensing of drugs to consumers away from pharmacists to thousands of doctor and clinic locations should not occur without more careful consideration by experts. The amendment would have added unnecessary confusion to well-established policies under the current legislation.”
(A “Yes” vote is for allowing doctors to store and dispense some prescription medications directly to a patient. A “No” vote is against allowing it).
Rep. Joseph McGonagleNo
DIVERSITY, EQUITY AND INCLUSION (S 2844)
Senate 14-26, rejected an amendment to a section of the bill that would legalize sports betting in the Bay State. A section of the bill establishes the application process when applying for a license to operate sports betting. The amendment would require that not less than 25 percent of an applicant’s score in the evaluation of their license shall be accounted for by the applicant’s diversity, equity and inclusion commitments and implementation plan; the applicant’s record of past performance on metrics related to diversity, equity and inclusion; and the applicant’s plan for inclusion of minority business enterprises and women business enterprises in development, financing, ownership, design, construction and operations.
Amendment supporters said the amendment is based on a successful licensing model which is currently used by Massport. They noted the model has opened doors to many contractors and business owners of color that previously did not get the same consideration their white counterparts did—all while preserving flexibility and competitiveness in the overall bidding process.
Amendment opponents said that the bill already requires that the application’s score be based on several things about the applicant in addition to diversity, equity and inclusion. They argued that elevating the diversity requirement to account for 25 percent of an applicant’s score is unfair to the very other important things that help develop the applicant’s score.
Sens. Mike Rodrigues (D-Westport) and Eric Lesser (D-Longmeadow), two opponents of the amendment, did not respond to repeated requests by Beacon Hill Roll Call for a comment.
(A “Yes” vote is for the amendment. A “No” vote is against it.)
Sen. Sal DiDomenicoNo
ALSO UP ON BEACON HILL
ADOPT ANIMALS USED IN RESEARCH (S 613) – The Senate approved and sent to the House a bill that would require research labs to take reasonable steps to offer healthy animals up for adoption rather than euthanizing them when the research is done. According to supporters, more than 60,000 dogs and nearly 20,000 cats are used for animal experimentation in the US.
“I filed the bill to give animals used in medical and product testing experiments a life after the lab,” said sponsor Sen. Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester) who noted that beagles are very docile and because of that they are often used in laboratories. In fact the majority of animal testing facilities rely on dogs—the greatest proportion of which are beagles. Dogs and other animals involved in research in Massachusetts make tremendous sacrifices to save our lives and make us healthier. We have a moral imperative to give them the opportunity for life after the lab.”
ADOPT-A-SENIOR (S 427) – A proposal that would establish a statewide Adopt-A-Senior volunteer program to assist seniors with snow removal and property or home maintenance services received a favorable report from the Elder Affairs Committee back on December 20, 2021 but has been languishing in the Senate Ways and Means Committee since that time. Provisions include creation of a registry of volunteers to match and place volunteers with seniors within their community.
“The commonwealth’s seniors need support with things that many younger, able people would happily donate their time to provide,” said sponsor Sen. Mike Rush (D-Boston). “Connecting the people who need assistance with those who are willing to provide it is a no-brainer.”
“I have always felt that volunteers make a community stronger,” said Rep. Brian Ashe (D-Longmeadow). “There are many older residents who deserve to stay in their home but are no longer able to do all the maintenance that comes along with owning a home. Hiring someone can be difficult and too expensive on a fixed income. The Adopt-A-Senior program will allow seniors of any community access to the assistance they need while promoting community service—a win-win for everyone.”
DONATE FOOD (S 954) A proposal that would provide civil liability protections to individuals, restaurants and organizations that make direct food donations to persons in need received a favorable report from the Judiciary Committee back on February 28, 2021 but has been languishing in the House Ways and Means Committee since that time. The donor would receive a tax credit or deduction. The bill also provides Massachusetts farmers who donate locally produced excess crops to nonprofit food distribution organizations a tax credit for the year of the donation.
“This legislation would encourage the donation of food during a time in which the commonwealth continues to struggle with food insecurity as a result of the pandemic,” said sponsor Sen. Jo Comerford (D-Northampton). Our state saw the highest rate of growth in food insecurity in the nation during the pandemic and food donations are needed to serve our most vulnerable residents. This bill will also incentivize farmers to donate food, setting up a pipeline between farms and food donation organizations, strengthening our food system, and offering farmers the opportunity for a tax credit.”
“We have … more support in the Statehouse in both bodies than we’ve ever had before, and I can tell you as someone who works in other states as well, we have the most support in any Legislature that we’ve ever seen across the country. We really feel like now is the time and this is the session to do it.”
— Melissa Stacy, Northeast regional advocacy manager for Compassion and Choices, on the future of the “Right to Die” bill allowing terminally ill patients to request and receive medication to end their lives.
“Students across the commonwealth were significantly impacted by the disruption to their learning and their social and emotional well-being caused by COVID-19, and it is imperative that we continue to provide the resources and support they need to thrive. We are pleased to be able to again provide this funding, and we are grateful to the community and educational partners statewide who will take advantage of these opportunities and greatly benefit the commonwealth’s children.”
—Gov. Charlie Baker announcing nearly $60 million in state and federal funding is now available to school districts and community organizations to offer summer learning and recreational programs designed to help students grow academically and socially.
“No matter what the time of year, we find that young people love and get so inspired taking on the role of U.S. senators and learning—by doing—about the researching, thinking, debating and compromising that go into producing legislation. Over and over again, we hear from our students who come in-person what an exciting and unforgettable experience it was to be right there on what looks and feels exactly like the floor of the United States Senate in Washington.”
— Caroline Angel Burke, Vice President of Education, Visitor Experience, and Collections at the Kennedy Institute, on its “Senator for a Day” interactive civic education programs for K-12 students.
“Anyone who’s been traveling into Boston on any of the roadways into the city will know and attest to the fact that traffic is almost back. I don’t know if that’s necessarily a good thing or a bad thing.”
— MassDOT Chief Financial Officer David Pottier
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 May 9-13, the House met for a total of 52 minutes and the Senate met for a total of 22 minutes
Mon. May 9 House 11:02 a.m. to 11:17 a.m.
Senate 11:05 a.m. to 11:20 a.m.
Tues. May 10 No House session
No Senate session
Wed. May 11 No House session
No Senate session
Thurs. May 12 House 11:01 a.m. to 11:38 a.m.
Senate 11:08 a.m. to 11:15 a.m.
Fri. May 13 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.