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Malden Volume 47 – Report No. 28

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Beacon Hill Roll Call

Volume 47 – Report No. 28

July 11-15, 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 representatives’ and senators’ votes on roll calls from the week of July 11-15.

$4.2 BILLION ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT PACKAGE AND TAX CUTS (H 5077)

   House 154-0, approved and sent to the Senate a $4.2 billion economic development package. The bill provides $500 million one-time tax rebates to an estimated 2 million eligible people. A $250 rebate would go, by September 30, to individual taxpayers and a $500 rebate to married taxpayers. Eligibility will be determined by annual income reported in 2021, with the minimum income required to be $38,000, and the maximum $100,000 for individual filers and $150,000 for joint filers.

   Beginning in 2023, several permanent tax reductions would take effect including increasing the Child and Dependent Care Credit from $180 per child to $310 per child, as well as eliminating the current cap of $360 for two or more children; increasing the Earned Income Tax Credit from 30 percent to 40 percent of the federal credit; increasing the Senior Circuit Breaker Tax Credit from $750 to $1,755; increasing the rental deduction cap from $3,000 to $4,000; and increasing the estate tax threshold from $1 million to $2 million.

   The measure would break new ground for the Massachusetts Lottery by allowing it to sell some of its products online. Some of the revenue collected from online sales will go to fund an Early Education and Care Fund.

   Other provisions include $80 million for community health centers; $30 million to support rest homes; $15 million for grants to reproductive rights providers for security, workforce and educational needs; $175 million for state parks and recreational facilities upgrades, with $25 million for communities of color; $100 million for the Clean Water Trust Fund; $125 million for small businesses, with $75 million for minority-owned businesses; $50 million for broadband investments in underserved communities; and $75 million in grants to hotels across the state who saw financial loses during the pandemic.

   “Today, the House passed much needed relief for the citizens of the commonwealth,” said Rep. Mark Cusack (D-Braintree), House Chair of the Committee on Revenue. The one-time stimulus program we adopted, along with the Essential Premium Pay Program from earlier this year, means that nearly three million residents will have received direct payments totaling nearly $1 billion this year. We are also making permanent changes to our tax system that will provide over $500 million in relief every year going forward.”

    “As Massachusetts residents continue to face severe inflation and economic uncertainty, I’m proud of the action taken by the House today that will provide low and middle-class taxpayers with much needed financial relief,” said House Speaker Ron Mariano (D-Quincy). “Included in this legislation are several significant tax relief proposals, over $2.5 billion worth of one-time industry targeted investments, economic relief rebates for qualifying taxpayers and a newly established source of revenue to fund the state’s early education and care system. These are vital forms of real, tangible economic relief.”  

   

   “ This legislation will ensure Massachusetts continues its strong economic growth and puts us in solid footing to rebound from the pandemic,” said Rep. Jerry Parisella (D-Beverly), House Chair of the Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies. “Some highlights include providing a boost to our local theaters, giving our academic institutions the ability to lead the nation in fields like artificial intelligence, advanced manufacturing, cyber security and robotics. And also provide funding to create thousands of units of housing throughout the commonwealth. 

   (A “Yes” vote is for the bill).

Rep. Paul DonatoYes                                     Rep. Steven Ultrino Yes                                     

REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH CARE (S 2996)

   Senate 40-0, approved a bill designed to further protect reproductive health care and those who perform abortions in the Bay State. The measure specifically declares that both reproductive health care and gender-affirming care are rights secured by the constitution or laws of Massachusetts and would shield providers of reproductive and gender-affirming care and their patients from out-of-state legal action.

  Other provisions include preventing the state’s cooperation with anti-abortion and anti-gender-affirming care laws in other states; mandating health insurance coverage for abortion and abortion-related care with no cost-sharing; ensuring access to emergency contraception; and providing confidentiality to providers of reproductive and gender-affirming care.

   “Passing this legislation is a monumental step forward in Massachusetts, as we are seeing increasingly more anti-abortion and anti-gender-affirming care legislation rise across the country,” said Sen. Cindy Friedman (D-Arlington), Senate Chair of the Committee on Health Care Financing and the sponsor of the bill. “We must do everything to protect the rights of our providers, patients and visitors to the commonwealth. As we further realize the impact of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision … we will continue to fight these attacks on reproductive and gender-affirming care with meaningful action.”

   “A fundamental teaching of the Catholic faith is that an unborn child is a human person with the inalienable right to life and this life must be protected from conception to birth,” said a statement from the Massachusetts Catholic Conference. “It is in this light that the Catholic Bishops of Massachusetts have always strongly opposed abortion and all legislative efforts to expand the practice.”

   “We cannot let other states threaten Massachusetts’ pregnant and transgender people, or the providers who take care of them,” said Senate President Karen Spilka (D-Ashland). “Massachusetts will not waiver in protecting our residents’ rights. The Legislature prepared for the end of Roe v. Wade by passing the ROE Act in 2020, which ensured the continuation of reproductive healthcare services when we could no longer count on the federal government. Now, we must prepare our commonwealth for the potential further erosion of our rights and protections at the federal level.” 

   “The Legislature’s myopic pursuit of abortion and gender identity extremism is out of sync with the voters of Massachusetts, and seeks to undermine pro-life, pro-parental rights laws across the country,” said the president of the Massachusetts Family Institute Andrew Beckwith. “This bill also specifically grants Planned Parenthood the power to effectively re-write our commonwealth’s abortion laws through the regulatory process. When you combine that with the $15 million giveaway to abortion activists in the proposed state budget, it is clear what this is really about: our elected officials handing over power and money to their political allies in the abortion industry.”  

   (A “Yes” vote is for the bill).

Sen. Jason LewisYes                                     

$10.9 BILLION TRANSPORTATION AND INFRASTRUCTURE PACKAGE (S 2989)

   Senate 39-0, approved a nearly $11 billion transportation and infrastructure package that includes $1.375 billion for Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) modernization; $400 million for MBTA safety projects; $275 million for the East-West rail project; $1.27 billion for non-federally aided roads and bridges; and a provision that directs the MBTA and allows Regional Transit Authorities across the state to create a low-income fare program. The House has approved a different version of the package and a House-Senate conference committee will likely hammer out a compromise version.

    Other provisions include $225 million for emissions reduction initiatives, including $50 million to support access to electric vehicle charging infrastructure; $114 million for airport improvements; $25 million for municipal road pavement improvements; and $407.7 million for local and regional transportation projects.

   Of the more than 200 amendments filed by senators none came to a roll call vote. Many were simply approved or rejected one at a time on voice votes. To move things along even faster, the Senate also did its usual “bundling” of many amendments. Instead of acting on each amendment one at a time, dozens of the proposed amendments are bundled and put into two piles—one pile that will be approved and the other that will be rejected, without a roll call, on voice votes where it is impossible to tell which way a senator votes.

   Senate President Karen Spilka, or the senator who is filling in for her at the podium, orchestrates the approval and rejection of the bundled amendments with a simple: “All those in favor say ‘aye,’ those opposed say ‘no.’ The ayes have it and the amendments are approved.” Or “All those in favor say ‘aye,’ those opposed say ‘no.’ The no’s have it and the amendments are rejected.” The outcome was predetermined earlier behind closed doors.

   “This transportation bond bill provides Massachusetts with the key to unlock once-in-a-generation federal funding from the bipartisan infrastructure law,” Sen. Brendan Crighton (D-Lynn), 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.”

   “While repairs to our transportation infrastructure will be beneficial to many communities across the commonwealth, this bill goes much further than merely repairing but will instead actively transform our infrastructure to be more modern, environmentally sustainable and regionally equitable,” said Senate President Karen  Spilka (D-Ashland). “The support for electric vehicles, regional transportation authorities, low-income fares on public transit, expanded East-West connectivity and many other initiatives included in this bill will bring benefits to residents, visitors and businesses throughout Massachusetts.”

   “Today’s passage of this multi-pronged … transportation infrastructure investment package builds on our longstanding commitment to ensure the commonwealth’s transportation system is more equitable, reliable, safe and modern,” said Sen. Mike Rodrigues (D-Westport), Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. “Going far beyond just roads and bridges, the Senate’s transportation bond bill will stimulate our economy, increase accessibility for our residents, support local businesses, create jobs, and boost economies in all corners of our commonwealth,” said Rodrigues. 

  (A “Yes” vote is for the package).

Sen. Jason LewisYes                                     

   ALSO UP ON BEACON HILL

   ADOPT ANIMALS USED IN RESEARCH – “THE BEAGLE BILL” (S 2992) – The Senate approved a bill that would require research labs to make every effort to offer healthy animals up for adoption by registered non-profit animal rescue organizations rather than euthanizing them when the research is done.

 

   According to supporters, more than 60,000 dogs—almost all beagles—and nearly 20,000 cats, are used each year for animal experimentation in the United States to advance scientific research and to test cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and other household products. Currently, many research labs choose to automatically euthanize these cats and dogs once their experiments are over. The House has already approved a different version of the bill and the Senate version now goes to the House for consideration.

   “I am proud the Massachusetts Senate passed legislation prioritizing the protection of animals across our commonwealth,” said Sen. Joan Lovely (D-Salem), Senate Chair of the Judiciary Committee. “The Beagle Bill will give research dogs and cats a second chance at life and bring Massachusetts in line with other states across our nation. We owe so much of human advancement to the service and sacrifice of these animals, and they deserve to be loved and cherished after a job well done.”

   House sponsor Rep. Michelle DuBois (D-Brockton) said the bill will save dogs and cats from needlessly dying when their time in the testing lab comes to an end. “This national effort was brought to my attention by a constituent … [and] provides a framework to provide an alternate ending in a loving home through places like the MSPCA,” DuBois said.

   PROTECT PUPPIES AND KITTENS (S 2994) – The Senate approved and sent to the House legislation designed to protect the health and safety of puppies and kittens in cities and towns by addressing inhumane practices relating to the transfer of pets.

  Provisions include prohibiting the sale of puppies and kittens under eight weeks of age; ending the sale of animals on roadsides, parking lots, flea markets or in other public spaces; and requiring the Department of Agricultural Resources to establish reasonable rules and regulations for the operation of breeding kennels and catteries producing pets for the public as well as boarding kennels and daycare facilities for dogs and cats.

   “Separating puppies and kittens at a critical stage from their mother and litter before the end of their primary socialization developmental stage can result in significant behavioral problems, including separation anxiety and aggression,” said Senate sponsor Sen. Harriette Chandler (D-Worcester). “This bill has the potential to truly protect the wellbeing of puppies  and kittens in the commonwealth, who will otherwise suffer without clear, mandatory regulations on their purchase, storage and caretaking.”

   “As the owner of a Labrador Retriever and a cat, and as a veteran who has observed the important work that animals do to assist the young and the old when we are in crisis and need, I know firsthand that our animal companions play a central role in our lives—and promoting their well-being protects both pets and people,” said House sponsor Rep. Linda Dean Campbell. “By ensuring kennels meet safety standards and preventing the dangerous sale of pets that are too young, we will reduce the risk of aggressive behavior that can put dogs, cats and people at risk.”

   POACHING (S 2993) – The Senate approved and sent to the House a bill that would regulate poaching—the illegal hunting that harms or kills wildlife including fish, birds, mammals and endangered or threatened species. Other provisions elevate the fines and penalties for poaching; align Massachusetts poaching regulations with other states; and bring Massachusetts into the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact, which helps states to work together to prevent illegal hunting across state lines.

   “It has been nearly a century since many of the commonwealth’s anti-poaching laws were last updated,” said sponsor Sen. Michael Moore (D-Millbury). “The absence of action on anti-poaching laws has resulted in outdated penalties that result in no more than a slap on the wrist for offenders. This legislation finally brings our laws, fines and penalties in line with other states. It also brings Massachusetts into the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact, a nationwide law enforcement network that allows our wildlife protection agencies to share information about poachers with other states. With the passage of this legislation, Massachusetts is making it clear that we will no longer be a safe haven for those who wish to do harm to our wildlife, marine life and ecosystems.”

   $56 MILLION FOR FAMILIES OF VICTIMS OF HOLYOKE SOLDIERS’ HOME (H 4932) – The House and Senate gave final approval to and sent to Gov. Charlie Baker $56 million in funding for the families of the victims of the COVID-19 outbreak at the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home. 

   Sen. John Velis (D-Holyoke), chair of the Veterans and Federal Affairs Committee said that these families have been through so much over the past two years. “No dollar figure will ever bring their loved ones back, but this resolution does end the painful process of litigation,” said Velis. “What happened at the home will forever leave a scar on our commonwealth, especially Western Mass. Now we must continue to work to get much needed reforms for the home signed into law as well.”

  PROHIBIT REVOCATION OF PROFESSIONAL LICENSES IF A PERSON DEFAULTS ON A STUDENT LOAN (H 425) – House gave initial approval to legislation that would repeal current state laws which created professional licensure consequences for anyone who defaults on their student loan. Under existing law, a borrower’s state-issued professional or occupational certificate, registration or license can be suspended, revoked or cancelled if the borrower is in default on an education loan.

 

   “As a former seventh grade public school teacher and an education attorney for more than a decade, I’ve come to expect Massachusetts to be identified as a pioneer in a promising practice or out in front on an education issue,” said sponsor Rep. Kate Lipper-Garabedian (D-Melrose).  “So I was quite surprised to find that Massachusetts is one of the only states that mandates the denial of professional licenses to student loan defaulters. This draconian approach prevents an individual from access to the profession for which he or she has trained and has the perverse result of furthering hindering their ability to earn a living and making it more difficult to make loan payments. And as families work to recover from the financial fallout of the pandemic, the last thing the state should do is deny them access to their professional pursuits because of student loan defaults.”

   “CROWN ACT” – FORBID DISCRIMINATION AGAINST A PERSON WITH A NATURAL HAIRSTYLE  (H 5028) – The House and Senate approved a new version of a bill that would prohibit any person or entity including educational institutions workplaces and public spaces from implementing any policy that would explicitly target someone who wears their natural hairstyle. The measure defines natural hairstyle as hair texture, hair type and protective hairstyles including braids, locks, twists and other formations. Only final Senate approval is needed prior to the measure going to Gov. Baker for his signature.

   “Racial discrimination is unacceptable in all of its forms,” said bill sponsor Rep. Mike Day (D-Stoneham). “I was proud to join my House colleagues in unanimously advancing a bill which would ensure that Black students and workers won’t be told that their hair is unprofessional or be forced to cut it in order to participate in activities or go to work. I hope that the governor will join the Legislature in standing against discrimination by signing these protections into law.”

   “On the long march toward justice, and especially racial justice, the Legislature’s passage of this legislation marks another step forward,” said Sen. Jason Lewis (D-Winchester), Senate Chair of the Committee on Education. “We would not be at this point without the great courage and strength of Mya and Deanna Cook, who as 15-year-old students faced discrimination and abuse from their high school for their hairstyles, and bravely stood up for their rights and those of so many other black women.”

   QUOTABLE QUOTES

   “Taxpayers are experiencing the largest inflation spike in 41 years and our Statehouse leaders have a pile of money they could give back to help taxpayers with these high costs. Instead, they are choosing to hold onto the vast majority of the money and they even have the nerve to continue to push for their graduated income tax surcharge amendment which will increase the state income tax by 80 precent on some high-income earners and small businesses.”

    —Paul Craney, spokesman for the Mass Fiscal Alliance.

   “This legislation is critically important because despite the well-known hazards, Massachusetts law still permits schools and childcare centers to use toxic pesticides … on playgrounds and playing fields. Shielding our communities and children from these damaging pesticides ought to be a public health priority.”

   —From an open letter from several representatives and organizations to House Speaker Ron Mariano, supporting a bill that would improve pesticide protections for Massachusetts schoolchildren.

   “This train is leaving the station.”

      —Sen. Jo Comerford  (D-Northampton) during debate on railway service.

   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 dozen  s of bills in the days immediately preceding the end of an annual session.

   During the week of July 11-15, the House met for a total of 15 hours and 16 minutes and the Senate met for a total of 14 hours and 46 minutes.

Mon.   July 11     House  11:05 a.m.to  11:40 a.m.           

                   Senate 11:14 a.m. to  2:37 p.m.

Tues.  July 12     House  11:01 a.m. to  11:07 a.m.

                   No Senate session.

Wed.   July 13     House  11:06 a.m. to   6:02 p.m

                   Senate  1:13 p.m. to   5:32 p.m.

 

Thurs. July 14     House   1:02 p.m. to   9:43 p.m.                   

                   Senate 11:23 a.m. to   6:27 p.m.

Fri.  July  15     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.

   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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