By Bob Katzen
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GOV. CHARLIE BAKER ANNOUNCES HE WILL NOT RUN FOR RE-ELECTION – Gov. Baker announced that he will not seek a third term as governor of Massachusetts in 2022 while Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito also said she will not seek the governorship. This leaves the race wide open.
“This was an extremely difficult decision for us,” said the pair in a joint statement. “We love the work and we especially respect and admire the people of this wonderful commonwealth. Serving as governor and lieutenant governor of Massachusetts has been the most challenging and fulfilling jobs we’ve ever had.”
“We have a great deal of work to do to put the pandemic behind us, keep our kids in school and keep our communities and economy moving forward. That work cannot and should not be about politics and the next election. If we were to run, it would be a distraction that would potentially get in the way of many of the things we should be working on for everyone in Massachusetts. We want to focus on recovery, not on the grudge matches political campaigns can devolve into.”
“Today is about the future. This next year needs to be about recovery, not about politics. We are grateful for the chance we have been given to serve the people of this great state and will give it our all between now and the end of 2022,” concluded the statement.
Four candidates had already entered the race before Baker’s announcement. Democratic candidates include Incumbent State Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz (D-Boston), former State Sen. Ben Downing and Harvard professor Danielle Allen. The only GOP candidate currently in the race is former State Rep. Geoff Diehl.
The two biggest names being tossed around as possibilities in political circles on the Democratic side include Attorney General Maura Healey and U.S. Secretary of Labor and former Boston Mayor Marty Walsh.
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 senators’ roll call attendance records for the 2021 session. No more roll calls are planned in the Senate until January 2022.
The Senate held 115 roll calls in the 2021 session. Beacon Hill Roll Call tabulates the number of roll calls on which each senator votes 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.
More senators have 100 percent roll call attendance records this year than at any time in recent memory. Thirty-seven of the 39 members did not miss any roll calls and have 100 percent roll call attendance records. This can be attributed to the fact that under emergency rules adopted because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the vast majority of the 39 senators are not in the Senate chamber during a session. Most are watching and listening to the session from their home or business and voting remotely. Senators’ votes are communicated to Senate officials during the session or prior to the session if senators are informed in advance that there will be a roll call vote. If a member wants to speak on an issue under consideration, they do so on a separate “debate phone line” and their voice is then heard in the Senate chamber and by anyone watching the broadcast online.
The number of senators who had 100 percent roll call attendance records in the prior four years was 33 in 2020; 28 in 2019; 20 in 2018; 24 in 2017; and 17 in 2016.
Sen. Mike Barrett (D-Lexington) and Senate President Karen Spilka (D-Ashland) were the only two senators who missed any roll calls this year.
Barrett missed 13 roll calls (11.4 percent) out of 115 for a roll call attendance record of 88.6 percent. “In my capacity as State Senate chair of the Utilities and Energy Committee of the Legislature, I attended the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Glasgow for its climactic second week,” Barrett told Beacon Hill Roll Call. “In doing so, I missed several roll calls back in the Senate, all taken on a single day. I regret this, but feel my responsibilities to my constituents were best satisfied during that particular time by my working at the U.N. event. Achieving emissions reductions relies heavily on ‘subnational’ governments like state legislatures, where so many of the actual programs are designed and funded.”
“Over 400 private jets crammed Scotland’s airports and Massachusetts sent several of our state’s leading green elites to virtue signal and share their moral authority with other self-absorbed bureaucrats and politicians,” said Paul Craney, spokesman for the Mass Fiscal Alliance. “While his legislative colleagues were trying to determine how to best help their constituents with COVID relief money, the Lexington state senator was boasting about serving on a climate panel in which he spoke to ‘legislators’ from other countries including from China and Russia. Can Massachusetts’ most narcissistic green elite be this tone deaf or is he there for the self-celebration and pageantry?”
It’s a Senate tradition that the Senate president only votes occasionally. Current Senate President Karen Spilka follows that tradition and only voted on 45 (39.1 percent) of the 115 roll calls while not voting on 70 (60.9 percent) of them.
Sen. Spilka’s office did not respond to repeated requests by Beacon Hill Roll Call to comment on her voting record.
We specifically asked if Spilka was in the Statehouse building for all the formal and informal sessions; how the tradition developed that the president rarely votes; has she ever thought of breaking that tradition and being recorded on all roll calls; and how does she choose on which roll calls she will vote?
“Sen. Spilka follows the tradition that many before her followed,” said Paul Craney. “In this particular case, it’s not necessarily a bad tradition but unfortunately a much worse trend in the state senate is quickly emerging, and that is its opaqueness. The Statehouse has been closed for over 600 days, and now major budget decisions are being done behind closed doors and when lawmakers are on recess. The Massachusetts Legislature, including the State Senate, is the most opaque legislative body in the United States. There is no other state legislature this secretive.”
SENATORS’ 2021 ROLL CALL ATTENDANCE RECORDS
The percentage listed next to the senator’s name is the percentage of roll call votes on which the senator voted. The number in parentheses represents the number of roll calls that he or she missed.
Sen. Jason Lewis 100 percent (0)
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 November 29-December 3, the House met for a total of one hour and 30 minutes while the Senate met for a total of one hour and 22 minutes.
Mon. Nov. 29 House 11:00 a.m. to 11:12 a.m.
Senate 11:14 a.m. to 11:18 a.m.
Tues. Nov. 30 No House session
No Senate session
Wed. Dec. 1 No House session
No Senate session
Thurs. Dec. 2 House 11:11 a.m. to 11:21 a.m.
Senate 11:07 a.m. to 11:14 a.m.
Fri. Dec 3 House 11:03 a.m. to 12:11 p.m.
Senate 11:03 a.m. to 12:14 p.m.
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