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Everett Volume 47 – Report No. 36

Beacon Hill Roll Call

Volume 47 – Report No. 36

September 5-9, 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 reports on the percentage of times local representatives voted with their party’s leadership in the 2022 session. 

   The votes of the 2022 membership of 26 Republicans were compared with those of GOP House Minority Leader Brad Jones (R-North Reading). The votes of the 2022 membership of 124 Democrats were compared to House Speaker Ron Mariano (D-Quincy). Beacon Hill Roll Call uses 99 votes from the 2022 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 with Democratic House Speaker Ron Mariano.

  

   THE DEMOCRATS: A total of 53 (42.7 percent) of the 124 Democrats voted with Mariano 100 percent of the time. Another 55 Democrats (44.3 percent) voted against Mariano only once. That means a total of 108 (87.0 percent) of the 124 Democrats either never voted against Mariano or voted against Mariano only once. 

   Only three Democrats (2.4 percent) voted with Mariano less than 90 percent of the time.  

   The Democratic representative who voted the lowest percentage of times with Mariano is Rep. Colleen Garry (D-Dracut) who voted with Mariano only 72.4 percent of the time. 

   She is followed by Reps. Jeff Turco (D-Winthrop) 84.8 percent; David Robertson (D-Tewksbury) 86.8 percent; Patrick Kearney (D-Scituate) 92.8 percent; and Chris Markey (D-Dartmouth) 93.9 percent

   THE REPUBLICANS: Only four (15.3 percent) of the 26 GOP members voted with Jones 100 percent of the time. Eighteen Republicans (69.2 percent) voted with Jones at least 90 percent of the time. Four Republicans (15.3 percent) voted with Jones less than 90 percent of the time.

   The Republican representative who voted the lowest percentage of times with Jones was Rep. Marc Lombardo (R-Billerica) who voted with Jones only 86.8 percent of the time.

   He is followed by Reps. Nick Boldyga (R-Southwick) 87.7 percent; Donald Berthiaume (R-Spencer) 88.8 percent; Alyson Sullivan (R-Abington) 89.8 percent; and Peter Durant (R-Spencer) 90.9 percent.

REPRESENTATIVES’ SUPPORT OF THEIR PARTY’S LEADERSHIP IN 2022

   The percentage next to the representative’s name represents the percentage of times the representative supported his or her party’s leadership in 2022. The number in parentheses represents the number of times the representative opposed his or her party’s leadership

   Some representatives voted on all 99 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. Joseph McGonagle100 percent (0)                         

ALSO UP ON BEACON HILL

   U.S. LABOR SECRETARY MARTY WALSH TALKS UNIONS AND THE FUTURE – The momentum of labor, including the growth of unions and the increased leverage of workers, is reshaping the traditional workplace dynamic In Massachusetts and beyond. Join Labor Secretary Marty Walsh and Massachusetts labor leaders for a special event hosted by the State House News Service and MASSterList that will explore the important labor trends: labor’s gains, goals and the outlook for the future. The in-person event is Wednesday, September 28, at the Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education (MCLE) at 10 Winter Place (Downtown Crossing) in Boston. Doors open for networking and light refreshments at 7:30 a.m., with the program kicking off at 8:15 a.m. Register at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/the-new-power-of-labor-in-massachusetts-and-beyond-tickets-414176953417?aff=BHRCSept 

   EDUCATION BILLS SENT TO A STUDY COMMITTEE – Several bills affecting public schools and education were sent to a study committee where bills are rarely actually studied and are essentially defeated. It is a way to kill a proposal without holding a vote on the bill itself. Here are some of the education bills that were sent off to a study committee:

   SEX ED IN SCHOOLS (H 662) – Would require grades 7, 8 or 9 in all public schools to offer a required course to educate students about the development of the child in utero. Each school would be required to inform at least one parent or guardian of each student at least one week prior to the beginning of the course. The parent or guardian would have the right to exempt a student from the course.  

   The course would be designed to educate students of the anatomical and physiological characteristics of unborn children at increments of four weeks from fertilization to full term. It would include visual images, including ultrasound images of fetal development at eight, 12, 18 and 24 weeks, and include the basics of prenatal and postnatal care for the purpose of educating students about the real expectations and responsibilities of parenthood.

   “As expanding sex-ed continues to be a priority agenda item, I feel it is important to have equal education and focus on a very real possible outcome of sex—pregnancy and children,” said Sponsor Rep. Joseph McKenna (R-Webster). “I believe that it’s critical to ensure that the health and wellness curriculum includes the development of a fetus into a baby and ultimately through birth. This should include [how] a pregnant mother’s decisions and lifestyle, including nutrition and substance use, impact fetal development and baby health.”

   “I am not surprised, nor discouraged, that this bill did not pass this session,” continued McKenna. Nearly every bill, especially when addressing potentially controversial items such as sex-ed and pregnancy, take many years and multiple sessions to get passed. As such, I will happily re-file this bill next session.”

   

   “Rep. McKenna’s bill is timely, warranted and appropriate, and would be a useful addition to any health or biology curriculum,” said C.J. Doyle, Catholic Action League executive director. “McKenna’s bill would be more suitable for secondary school students than for junior high school students, who could be as young as eleven years old. Advances in the science of embryology have given us new insights into fetal development, including the capacity of the unborn child to experience pain. Meanwhile, improvements in health care and medical technology have expanded the gestational parameters of viability for a child outside the womb.” 

   “McKenna’s idea would probably find, however, a more receptive environment in private and religious schools and among home schoolers,” continued Doyle. “In public education, it would face unrelenting opposition from an administrative class, and from a teaching profession, ideologically hostile to any curriculum which affirmed, or even implied, the humanity of the unborn child.”

   Several pro-choice organizations and state representatives and senators did not respond to repeated requests by Beacon Hill to comment on this legislation, including the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, Planned Parenthood Advocacy Fund of Massachusetts, Reproductive Equity Now, Sens. Cindy Friedman (D-Arlington) and Harriette Chandler (D-Worcester) and Rep. Ruth Balser (D-Newton).

   COMPUTERS FOR ALL STUDENTS (H 637) – Would establish a 14-member commission to research the best way of acquiring technology for Massachusetts students, including how to incentivize companies to take part in a program to provide personal computers or tablets to students. As part of its research, the commission will review the current policies in place to provide students with a personal computer or tablet and the barriers to providing all students with one. It would also evaluate the effect on benefits or drawbacks to providing students with a personal computer or tablet and its effects on the digital divide.

   “As the pandemic has shown, a lack of access to technology can inhibit students’ ability to learn and thrive,” said sponsor Rep. Brad Jones (R-North Reading). “Through the work of this commission, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education would have a better understanding of how to equip students with the technology they need at a manageable cost. I am disappointed the bill was placed in a study order, but plan to re-file it for the upcoming legislative session.”

   SCHOOL MANDATES (H 634) – Would establish an 11-member task force to review all existing state mandates placed on public schools. In addition to determining the cost of these unfunded mandates for budgeting purposes, the task force would also develop recommendations to streamline, consolidate or eliminate any mandates and reporting requirements that are outdated, duplicative or unnecessary.

   Sponsor Rep. Brad Jones said that the bill addresses one of the biggest concerns voiced by school officials not only in his district, but across the state. “The state cannot continue to impose new mandates on our cities and towns without providing them with the financial resources to help fulfill those requirements,” said Jones. “I am extremely frustrated [the bill] did not advance out of committee, but I plan to make a renewed push for its passage next year so we can begin the process of providing meaningful relief for our cities and towns.”

   INFORM PARENTS ABOUT STANDARDIZED ASSESSMENT TESTS (H 659) – Would require school districts, at the beginning of each school years to provide parents or guardians of students from kindergarten through twelfth grade information about each standardized assessment test that will be given during that school year including the date of the assessment; the estimated time a student will take to complete each assessment; whether students will be required to take assessments online, or have the option of paper and pencil; and the availability of appropriate accommodations for students with disabilities and English language learners, which will be translated for non-English speaking parents into their preferred language.

    “I filed this bill to continue the work that the commonwealth is doing to make our education system more equitable,” said sponsor Rep. Liz Malia (D-Boston). “If my time in the Legislature has taught me anything, it’s patience. Thousands of bills are filed each session, and only several hundred are signed into law. Malia, who is not seeking re-election, said she will partner with her fellow legislators to make sure that her legislative priorities get new sponsors in the 2023-2024 session.

   SCHOOLS MUST OFFER FINANCIAL EDUCATION TO STUDENTS (H 25) – Would require financial education to be offered in all Bay State schools and establish a trust fund to finance course materials and teaching resources as needed. 

   “When thinking about building a more equitable future for our children, requiring that schools in Massachusetts offer financial education is a crucial step towards achieving stability and security,” said sponsor State Treasurer Deb Goldberg who plans to file the bill again next year. “Students who receive this education have been more likely to save, budget, invest and increase their credit scores. Given the past two and a half years of economic uncertainty, there was no better time to ensure young people learn foundational financial skills so they can be prepared to navigate and plan for economic ups and downs. Currently, there are 15 states that guarantee or are in the process of guaranteeing personal financial literacy content to students. Sadly, Massachusetts is not one of them.”

   SCHOOLS MUST TEACH ABOUT THE HISTORY OF WORKING PEOPLE AND THE LABOR MOVEMENT (H 595) – Would require public schools to teach students the history of working people and the labor movement in the United States.

     “This bill will ensure that public schools in the commonwealth teach the often-overlooked history of our working class and the labor movement,” said sponsor Rep. Sean Garballey  (D-Arlington).  “Massachusetts has a history in this regard dating back several hundred years. Organized labor unions fought for better wages, reasonable hours and safer working conditions. The labor movement led efforts to stop child labor, give health benefits and provide aid to workers who were injured or retired. I plan to refile it next session.”

   STUDENTS MUST PASS CIVICS TEST TO GRADUATE HIGH SCHOOL (H 574) – Would require that in order to graduate from high school, students must correctly answer at least 60 of the 100 questions listed on a civics test that is identical to the civics portion of the naturalization test used by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services for immigrants aspiring to become naturalized citizens. A students who does not pass the test on the first try is allowed to take the test as many times as he or she wants until he or she passes it.

   “I believe that now more than ever a basic understanding of civics and how our government operates is critical,” said sponsor Rep. Shawn Dooley (R-Norfolk). “Requiring students to pass the citizenship test prior to graduation will make sure that the schools teach it as part of their curriculum. If people have a better understanding of how the process works it makes for a more engaged citizenry—which in turn leads to a better government. I do not understand the objection, as it is the same test we are asking our new citizens be able to pass.  And students can take it as many times as necessary. I’m disappointed that it didn’t advance again this year and if I’m fortunate enough to be elected to the Senate, I will definitely refile it again next session.”

QUOTABLE QUOTES

   “An Act to end child marriage in Massachusetts is a great step forward that now protects young women and girls from entering into a marriage contract before the age of 18, the age of majority.”

   —Rep. Kay Khan (D-Newton) at a ceremonial signing of the measure banning marriage of anyone under age 18. Prior law allowed minors to get married if they have parental consent.

  “While recent precipitation across the state has brought some improvements to streamflow and local water supplies, we still have a ways to go. The commonwealth continues to experience widespread drought in every region of the state. To avoid overstressing water systems, we all must adhere to local water use requirements and practice water conservation methods in an effort to ensure essential needs, including drinking water, fire suppression and habitat, continue to be met.”

   —Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Beth Card.

   “The next governor of Massachusetts needs to make reducing waste a top priority. Disposing of waste that could be reused or recycled harms our environment and health, adds to climate change and is literally throwing away our tax dollars which subsidize disposal. We need enforcement of these bans, and we need a more ambitious plan to make Massachusetts a zero-waste state.”

   — Janet Domenitz of MASSPIRG on a report by Zero Waste Massachusetts that two million tons of materials banned from the state’s landfills and incinerators end up there each year.

  “We know that the NFL kicks off tonight. And that, due to the nature of sports wagering, interest is piqued. We are rooting for the Pats. Our process will play out as it would have whenever this law came to the Gaming Commission to regulate and we will not compromise getting this right for anything. With that said, we also are aware of the importance of timing.”

   — Mass. Gaming Commission sports Chairwoman Cathy Judd-Stein on the commission’s progress in drafting regulations to oversee the state’s new law legalizing sports betting.

   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 September 5-9, the House met for a total of 13 minutes and the Senate met for a total of 25 minutes.

Mon.   Sept. 5     No House session

                   No Senate session.

  

Tues.  Sept. 6     House  11:01 a.m. to  11:06 a.m.                   

                   Senate 11:16 a.m. to  11:20 a.m.

Wed.   Sept. 7     No House session

                   No Senate session

Thurs. Sept. 89    House  11:02 a.m. to  11:10 a.m.                   

                   Senate 11:06 a.m. to  11:27 a.m. 

Fri.   Sept. 2     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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