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Malden – December 30, 2022 – Volume 47-Report No.51

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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.51

December 19-23, 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 continues a series on highlighting the bills that were approved by the Legislature in 2022 and signed into law by Gov. Charlie Baker.


   House 155-0, Senate 38-0, approved and Gov. Baker signed into law a $350 million package that includes authorizing $200 million in one-time funding for the maintenance and repair of local roads and bridges in cities and towns across the state to be distributed under the Chapter 90 program formula. The  package, a bond bill under which the funding would be borrowed by the state through the sale of bonds, also includes $150 million to pay for bus lanes, improvement of public transit, electric vehicles and other state transportation projects.

   “Chapter 90 provides vital road improvement funding to our communities,” said Sen. John Keenan, the Senate vice-chair of the Transportation Committee. “It is my hope that we will get to the point where we can provide a greater amount in a multi-year appropriation so that municipalities, big and small, will be able to more effectively plan.” 

   Many local officials across the state continue to advocate for additional money to increase the funding and argue that the cost of repairing roads has increased by up to 40 percent while the state has kept this funding flat at $200 million for the past 11 years.

   (A “Yes” vote is for the bill.)

Rep. Paul DonatoYes                                     Rep. Steven Ultrino Yes                                     Sen. Jason Lewis Yes                                     


   House 126-29,  Senate 37-3, approved and Gov. Baker signed into law a bill making permanent the mail-in and early voting options used in Massachusetts in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

   The measure requires the secretary of state to send out mail-in ballot applications, with return postage guaranteed, to registered voters before each presidential primary, state primary and biennial state election. It also allows registered voters to request a mail-in ballot for all elections in a single calendar year.

   Other provisions include reducing the registration blackout period from 20 days prior to an election to 10 days; electronic voting options for voters with disabilities and military service members; allowing a voter with disabilities to request accommodations including an accessible electronic ballot application, ballot and voter affidavit that can be submitted electronically; ensuring that non-felons who are incarcerated and are currently eligible to vote are provided with voting information and materials to exercise their right to vote; and requiring the secretary of state to conduct a comprehensive public awareness campaign to publicize the new voting and registration options.

   “I’m proud to see the [bill] pass in the House and make its way to the governor’s desk,” said Sen. Barry Finegold (D-Andover), Senate Chair of the Committee on Election Laws and the co-sponsor of the bill. “When more people participate in voting, democracy wins.”

   “As a general rule, we should be promoting voting in person and on Election Day,” said Paul Craney, spokesperson for the Mass Fiscal Alliance. “Anytime a voter loses control of their ballot before it’s given to an election official, it’s possible it could be lost or altered. The Postal Service cannot guarantee a 100 percent delivery rate.” 

   (A “Yes” vote is for the bill. A “No” vote is against it.)

Rep. Paul DonatoYes                                     Rep. Steven Ultrino Yes                                     Sen. Jason Lewis Yes                                     


   House 153-0, Senate 39-0, approved and the governor signed an $11.3 billion transportation and infrastructure package that includes $1.375 billion for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) modernization and $1.27 billion for non-federally aided roads and bridges.

   Other provisions include $114 million for airport improvements; $25 million for municipal road pavement improvements; $20 million for municipalities under the Complete Streets Funding Program; $25.5 million for the Mobility Assistance Program; mandating the MBTA to establish a 3-year safety improvement plan with measurable safety objectives; and directing the MBTA to contract with an independent third-party auditor to conduct annual safety audits.

   “This transportation bond bill provides Massachusetts with the key to unlock once-in-a-generation federal funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law,” said Sen. Brendan Crighton (D-Lynn), the Senate chair of the Committee on Transportation. “With these combined state and federal investments, we will be able to complete vital work on our highways, roads, bridges and public transportation systems, improving mobility for all residents of the commonwealth.”

   (A “Yes” vote is for the bill.)

Rep. Paul DonatoYes                                     Rep. Steven Ultrino Yes                                     Sen. Jason Lewis Yes                                     


   House 153-0, Senate 40-0, approved and Gov. Baker signed a bill that would make major changes to the oversight and governance structure of the state’s veterans’ homes in Holyoke and Chelsea. The proposal follows the deaths of 77 veteran residents in 2020 as a result of a COVID-19 outbreak at the Holyoke facility. A key provision would elevate the Department of Veterans Services to a cabinet-level executive office with direct reporting to the governor and the ability to hire and fire the homes’ superintendents

   Other provisions include requiring superintendents of the two soldiers’ homes to be licensed as nursing home administrators and that they oversee day-to-day management and operation of the homes; requiring two annual home inspections by the Department of Health; creating an independent Office of the Veteran Advocate; maintaining local Board of Trustees and creating a statewide advisory Veterans’ Home Council.

   “This legislation contains important improvements that will benefit the men and women who have served our nation and will reside at our commonwealth’s Veterans’ Homes for the years to come,” said Sen. John Velis (D-Westfield), Senate Chair of the Committee on Veterans and Federal Affairs.  “At the same time, we know that this work must continue. The working group established will allow us to have oversight over this implementation, to identify what we need to improve on further, and to continue to work to ensure that the tragedy that took place at the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home never happens again.”

   (A “Yes” vote is for the bill.)

Rep. Paul DonatoYes                                     Rep. Steven Ultrino Yes                                     Sen. Jason Lewis Yes                                     


   House 153-0, Senate 39-0, approved and Gov. Baker signed legislation that would support military families who relocate to the Bay State by providing career stability for the spouses of service members and education for their children. 

   Provisions include making it easier for military personnel and their spouses who move to the Bay State to get a Massachusetts professional license, if their job requires one, so that they can continue their civilian careers and provide for their families without interruption; requiring the Commissioner of Education to issue a military spouse a valid certificate for teaching if he or she holds a valid teaching license from another state; allowing children of military members to register and enroll in a school district at the same time it is open to the general population by waiving the proof of residency requirement until the student actually begins school; creating a purple-star campus designation for certain schools that are military-kid friendly and show a major commitment to students and families connected to the nation’s military; and requiring that a child or spouse of an active-duty service member in Massachusetts continue to pay the in-state, less expensive tuition rate at state universities even if the service member is assigned to move out of the state.

   “The Legislature has made veterans’ issues a priority from the start of the session,” said Rep. Paul McMurtry (D-Dedham), House Chair of the Committee on Veterans and Federal Affairs. “It’s a great honor to chair the Veterans Committee and bring a great deal of pride to the House as we continue the commonwealth’s long history of recognizing veterans and their families.”

   (A “Yes” vote is for the bill.)

Rep. Paul DonatoYes                                     Rep. Steven Ultrino Yes                                     Sen. Jason Lewis Yes                                     



   Here are five bills that were shipped off 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.

   The sponsoring representative of each bill did not respond to repeated requests by Beacon Hill Roll Call to comment on why they sponsored the measure, how they feel about their proposal essentially being defeated and whether they plan to refile the bill in 2023.

   HATE CRIME (H 2443) – Adds an “attack on a police officer which results in serious injury or death” to the definition of a hate crime in Massachusetts. 

   Current law defines a hate crime as any criminal act “coupled with overt actions motivated by bigotry and bias including, but not limited to, a threatened, attempted or completed overt act motivated at least in part by racial, religious, ethnic, handicap, gender, gender identity or sexual orientation prejudice, or which otherwise deprives another person of his constitutional rights by threats, intimidation or coercion, or which seeks to interfere with or disrupt a person’s exercise of constitutional rights through harassment or intimidation.”

   Supporters say that the recent increase in attacks on police officers across the nation is outrageous and that attacks on police officers who risk their lives every day should be a special protected class under the state’s hate crime law.

   Sponsor Rep. David DeCoste (R-Norwell) did not respond to repeated requests by Beacon Hill Roll Call to comment on his bill.

   FALSE MARINE DISTRESS CALLS (H 2458) – Requires the Massachusetts Secretary of the Executive Office of Public Safety and Homeland Security and the Attorney General to establish regulations setting a penalty schedule for individuals making false marine distress calls. The penalties must include reimbursements by individuals making the false call of the costs incurred by the responding state agencies.  

   Supporters say that these false calls can cost the state thousands of dollars and also tie up emergency response teams that could be responding to real distress calls.

   Sponsor Rep. Ann-Margaret Ferrante (D-Gloucester) did not respond to repeated requests by Beacon Hill Roll Call to comment on her bill.


   LICENSING OF SECURITY GUARDS (H 3798) – Requires security guards and watchmen to be licensed by the state. 

   Supporters say under current state law, there is no such thing as a security guard or watchman license. They note that guards and watchmen are regulated through their Massachusetts security employer which is officially called a Watch Guard Patrol Agency.

   Sponsor Rep. Lindsay Sabadosa (D-Northampton) did not respond to repeated requests by Beacon Hill Roll Call to comment on her bill.  

   EMERGENCY THERMAL BLANKETS (H 3885) – Requires all emergency response vehicles, including ambulances, fire apparatus, police vehicles and disaster vehicles, to be equipped with emergency thermal blankets—an aluminum film blanket typically used to treat shock or hypothermia by retaining body warmth and preventing heat loss.

   Supporters say that these blankets are invaluable and have saved many lives.

   Sponsor Rep. Gerard Cassidy (D-Brockton) did not respond to repeated requests by Beacon Hill Roll Call to comment on his bill.


   “The Hanover High School girls’ soccer team outnumbered the representatives present in Monday morning’s House session, as the House churned through mostly local matters.”

   —From the State House News Service on the very light attendance at a recent House session. The Hanover soccer team was being honored as  Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) Division 3 Girls’ Soccer Champions.

   “All we want this holiday season is to return what is rightfully yours. You better watch out; you better not cry. You better not pout; we’re telling you why. Just give us a call today.”

   —State Treasurer Deb Goldberg announcing the release of the latest group of names that have been added to the state’s list of unclaimed property owners. See the list and possibly claim your money at www.findmassmoney.com or call 888-344-MASS (6277).

   “This comprehensive support of clean energy solutions in transportation and our existing buildings will lead to a healthier and more sustainable future for the commonwealth. Delivering the reliable benefits of clean energy to Massachusetts residents has been the impetus behind our decarbonization work, and I’m thrilled we can make this lasting investment.”

   —Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito announcing funding totaling over $100 million to state entities for programs focused on climate readiness and reaching the state’s 2030 and 2050 decarbonization goals.

   “Homeowners need to be able to count on mortgage companies to provide them with accurate information and take required steps to help prevent foreclosures. Our office is committed to protecting consumers and helping people stay in their homes.”

   —Attorney General/Governor-elect Maura Healey on her office’s success in requiring RoundPoint Mortgage Servicing Corporation to pay $975,000 and change its business practices to resolve allegations that the company failed to make required efforts to help homeowners avoid foreclosure and engaged in other unfair debt collection and mortgage servicing practices.

   “Safe and stable housing for individuals with behavioral health conditions and who are vulnerable to chronic health issues is a crucial step toward recovery. The Housing First model removes what is a significant barrier for individuals with complex health needs to receive much needed support and services.”

   —Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders announcing $9 million to expand access for temporary low-threshold permanent housing and support services for adults experiencing homelessness, substance use disorder, co-occurring illness, mental health conditions or are at risk for or living with HIV.


   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 19-23, the House met for a total of 49 minutes and the Senate met for a total of one hour and five minutes.

Mon.   Dec. 19   House  11:01 a.m. to  11:25 a.m.                   

                 Senate 11:15 a.m. to  11:42 a.m.

Tues.  Dec. 20   No House session

                 No Senate session


Wed.   Dec. 21   No House session

                 No Senate session 

Thurs. Dec. 22   House  11:03 a.m. to  11:28 a.m.                

                 Senate 11:25 a.m. to  12:03 p.m. 

Fri.   Dec. 23   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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