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Malden – January 28, 2022

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By Bob Katzen


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  THE HOUSE AND SENATE. Beacon Hill Roll Call records local representatives’ votes on roll calls from the week of January 17-21. There were no roll calls in the Senate last week.

$55 MILLION FOR COVID-19 (H 4340)

  The House 159-0, approved and sent to the Senate a $55 million COVID-19 response bill. A key provision provides $30 million to increase the number of COVID-19 testing sites and purchase COVID-19 tests—with $5 million of that earmarked to expand vaccination rates among kids ages 5 to 11 in communities disproportionately affected by the virus. Another $25 million would be used for the acquisition and distribution of high-quality personal protective masks, including N95s and KN95s, to be distributed by February 28, 2022 to children and faculty in elementary and secondary public school districts. The measure also mandates that the Baker administration pursue the highest allowable rate of federal reimbursement for the $55 million package. “In the last couple of years we have learned a lot about how to treat, prevent and reduce the risks associated with the virus,” said Rep. Bill Driscoll (D-Milton), the House chair of the Committee on COVID-19 and Emergency Preparedness and Management. “We held additional oversight hearings in December and January because we wanted to understand the administration’s current and evolving plans to address Omicron and what might be around the corner in the weeks and months ahead. The funding included in this legislation aims to close several gaps regarding accessibility to testing and high filtration masks, particularly in schools. By providing the funding resources and several other extensions, like remote participation in public meetings, the commonwealth can take stronger and focused measures toward driving infection rates down and hopefully keep them down in the months ahead.” (A “Yes” vote is for the bill.)

Rep. Paul Donato    Yes

Rep. Steven Ultrino Yes



  House 158-1, approved a package of several amendments to the COVID-19 package. The amendments were based on 23 individual amendments filed by individual representatives. Supporters said the amendments would enhance the bill and help in the fight against COVID-19. Rep. Jeff Turco (D-Winthrop), the only representative to vote against the package of amendments, said he voted against them because they included substantive changes to the tort laws of the commonwealth. “Specifically, the amendment included language that granted hospitals and medical providers immunity from liability for acts of negligence related to care and treatment involving COVID-19. I do not support such a change without a full vetting and hearing process.” (A “Yes” vote is for the package of amendments. A “No” vote is against it.)

Rep. Paul Donato    Yes

Rep. Steven Ultrino Yes


  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 January 17-21, the House met for a total of six hours and 50 minutes and the Senate met for a total of one hour and two minutes.

Mon. Jan. 17 No House session

                       No Senate session


Tues. Jan. 18 House 11:03 a.m. to 1:12 p.m.

                        Senate 11:14 a.m. to 11:17 a.m.


Wed. Jan. 19 House 11:19 a.m. to 3:54 p.m.

                       No Senate session


Thurs. Jan. 20 House 11:00 a.m. to 11:06 a.m.

                         Senate 12:13 p.m. to 1:12 p.m.


Fri. Jan. 21 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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