Beacon Hill Roll Call
Volume 47 – Report No. 38
September 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 and Senate last week. This week, Beacon Hill Roll Call reports on the number of times each representative sided with Gov. Charlie Baker on his 37 vetoes of mostly state budget items in the 2021-2022 session.
A two-thirds vote is required to override a gubernatorial veto. In a full 160-member House, the governor needs the support of 54 representatives to sustain a veto when all 160 representatives vote—and fewer votes when some members are absent or a seat is vacant. Baker fell short of that goal as 36 votes was the most support he received on any veto. The House easily overrode all 37 vetoes, including six that were overridden unanimously.
It was mostly the 27 GOP members who voted with the Republican governor to sustain the vetoes, but no Republican representative voted with Baker 100 percent of the time.
The three GOP members who voted with Baker the most times are Reps. Shawn Dooley (R-Norfolk), 30 times (81.0 percent); Donald Berthiaume (R-Spencer) who voted with Baker 28 times (75.6 percent); and GOP Minority Leader Brad Jones (R-North Reading) who voted with Baker 27 times (72.9 percent).
The four GOP members who supported Baker the least number of times were Reps. Hannah Kane (R-Shrewsbury) and David Vieira (R-Falmouth) who both voted with Baker only 20 times (54.0 percent); and Reps. Marc Lombardo (R-Billerica) and Joseph McKenna (R-Webster) who both voted with Baker only 21 times (56.7 percent).
The vetoes had little support among the 125 Democrats in the House. One hundred and fourteen (91.2 percent) of them did not support the governor even once. Of the other eleven Democrats, the three who voted with Baker the most times were Reps. Michael Moran (D-Brighton) who voted with Baker four times (10.8 percent); and Chris Markey (D-Dartmouth) and David Robertson (D-Tewksbury) who both voted with Baker twice (5.4 percent).
NUMBER OF TIMES REPRESENTATIVES SUPPORTED GOV. BAKER’S VETOES IN THE 2021-2022 SESSION
Gov. Baker vetoed 37 proposals that were approved by the Legislature in 2021-2022.
Here is how your representative fared in his or her support of Gov. Baker on the vetoes.
The percentage next to the representative’s name represents the percentage of times that he or she supported Baker. The number in parentheses represents the actual number of times the representative supported Baker.
Rep. Paul Donato0 percent (0) Rep. Steven Ultrino 0 percent (0)
ALSO UP ON BEACON HILL
REDUCED TRAFFIC FATALITIES AND PROTECT PEDESTRIANS AND BICYCLISTS (H 5103) – Gov. Baker has proposed amendments to a bill, sent to him by the Legislature a few days ago, designed to protect “vulnerable road users” which includes pedestrians, construction workers, emergency responders, bicyclists, skateboarders, roller skates and wheelchair users. “[The bill] strengthens traffic safety regulations, making our roads safer and taking critical steps to save lives, and reduce crashes that needlessly put people at risk,” said sponsor Rep. Christine Barber (D-Somerville) when the House approved the bill on September 12 and sent it to the governor. “With an emphasis on enhancing safeguards for pedestrians and bikers, the commonwealth positions itself as a leader in road user safety and promotes alternative modes of transportation.”
A key provision of the bill requires vehicle drivers, when passing a vulnerable user, to pass at a safe distance of not less than 3 feet when the motor vehicle is traveling at 30 miles per hour or less, and an additional foot of clearance for every ten miles per hour that the vehicle is traveling above 30 miles per hour.
Baker said that the passing distance formula presents enforcement and messaging challenges that would undermine the goal of a clearly understood and enforceable standard. “This bill would establish a sliding scale of passing distances depending on the motor vehicles’ speed, which would be confusing for motorists and difficult to enforce for local police,” said Baker, instead proposing an amendment that would establish a consistent three-foot distance requirement.
Other provisions of the measure include establishing a process to lower the default speed limit to 25 mph on state highways and parkways in thickly settled or business districts; requiring higher-visibility mirrors and lateral sideguards on certain state-owned, state-operated and state-contracted trucks; and creating a uniform reporting tool for crashes involving a pedestrian or cyclist..
Baker said he supports several pieces of the bill including the requirement that some state vehicles use higher-visibility mirrors and lateral sideguards. As far as the section creating a uniform reporting tool for crashes involving a pedestrian or cyclist Baker said that there already exists an online reporting public-facing platform and the new section is not necessary.
The amendments are now before the House for consideration.
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:
COMMISSION ON GEOGRAPHY TEACHING IN SCHOOLS (H 703) – Would create an 8-member commission to study and investigate the status of geography education in public schools and make recommendations on how to improve it.
“Expanding geography knowledge is much more than knowing where things are on a map,” said sponsor Rep. Todd Smola (R-Warren) who plans to file the bill again next year. “It helps to improve our understanding of issues at home and around the world. Global issues have a tremendous impact on what happens to us within our own country as well. A greater focus on geography education will work to the benefit of all students in the commonwealth.”
“It is always disappointing to see a good bill sent to study,” continued Smola. “I also recognize that the creation of a commission to study any issue is an extensive undertaking that the Legislature takes seriously. The hope is that there is room for expansion in the Massachusetts history and social science frameworks for greater geography education. If we can get there without the need for a legislative study, I am all for it.”
TEACH PERSONAL FINANCE IN SCHOOLS (H 578) – Would require the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to develop and assist in the implementation of curriculum on personal financial literacy to equip students with the knowledge and skills they need to become self-supporting and to enable them to make critical decisions regarding personal finances. The components of the curriculum would include the understanding of loans, borrowing money, interest, credit card debt and online commerce; rights and responsibilities of renting or buying a home; saving, investing and planning for retirement; banking and financial services; balancing a checkbook; state and federal taxes; and charitable giving.
Supporters say that schools should teach these practical skills in school because by the time students graduate high school, they do not have this practical knowledge that they will use for the rest of their lives.
Sponsor Rep. Peter Durant (R-Spencer) did not respond to repeated attempts by Beacon Hill Roll Call asking him to comment on his bill and its defeat.
MEDIA LITERACY (H 688) – Would require the Department of Education to integrate media literacy skills in all health and core curricular content for grades K-12. Media literacy is defined in the bill as consumption and production of media, digital products and communication technology of all kinds including news in print, television, radio, movies, music, video games, websites, advertisements, content posted on social media platforms, AI, algorithms, virtual reality and surveillance systems. And it encompasses the foundational skills of digital citizenship and Internet safety “including the norms of appropriate, responsible, ethical, healthy behavior and cyberbullying prevention, and the ability to recognize bias, stereotypes, representation and the lack of inclusion in media messages.”
Supporters say the media has grown and expanded in many directions and students should be well educated on its many aspects.
Sponsor Rep. David Rogers (D-Cambridge) did not respond to repeated attempts by Beacon Hill Roll Call asking him to comment on his bill and its defeat.
REQUIRE STUDENTS TO DISCLOSE WHY THEY CHOOSE TO GO TO A SCHOOL OUTSIDE THEIR CITY OR TOWN (H 704) – Under current law, students can request, under the inter-district school choice program, that they be allowed to attend a school outside of where they live. Participation in the program is limited to 2 percent of all public school students enrolled. Each district decides whether it will participate in this program. For the 2021-2022 school year, 170 or 53 percent of Massachusetts’ total districts chose to participate in the program. Tuition is paid by the sending district to the receiving district.
The bill would require these students and their parents or guardians to meet with the school’s administrators to discuss the reasons for wanting to leave the district.
Supporters say this does not alter the program but simply adds another reasonable requirement for students applying to attend a school outside their district.
Sponsor Rep. Todd Smola did not respond to repeated attempts by Beacon Hill Roll Call asking him to comment on his bill and its defeat.
“This winter will be, at best, a very high-cost energy winter. So everybody should conserve. Everybody who has close friends, please tell them conserve … I think it’s useful for everyone to be aware of that and spread the word for conservation as much as possible.”
—Judy Chang, undersecretary of Energy and Climate Solutions in the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs.
“Investing in these important open space projects will make Massachusetts parks more resilient to climate change, increase the availability of open space and improve access to the outdoors for people in communities across the state.”
—Gov. Baker announcing $12 million in grant funding for park improvements and open space acquisitions in 43 Massachusetts communities across the state.
“All of us are going to have to work together. We can’t rest on our laurels. We are making progress, but we have a long way to go.”
—University of Massachusetts President Marty Meehan upon accepting the award by the Massachusetts Association for Mental Health for his deep commitment to mental health advocacy and education among college students.
“For 33 years, as a Western Massachusetts native, I was represented in Washington by U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy. I can’t begin to express what an honor it is to become a steward of his legacy and his commitment to invigorating civil discourse and civic engagement to create a better, stronger country for all.
—Ex-Sen. Adam Hinds (D-Pittsfield) who resigned from the Massachusetts Senate to begin his new job as the executive director of the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate.
“We are very pleased to be able to provide this funding to school districts to improve HVAC systems and air quality in classrooms for students and staff. This grant program will give schools the flexibility to make improvements that best suit their needs.”
—Education Secretary James Peyser announcing $100 million in grant funding for school districts to improve ventilation and indoor air-quality to support healthy learning environments.
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 19-23, the House met for a total of 48 minutes and the Senate met for a total of 30 minutes.
Mon. Sept. 19 House 11:01 a.m. to 11:09 a.m.
Senate 11:18 a.m. to 11:24 a.m.
Tues. Sept. 20 No House session
No Senate session
Wed. Sept. 21 No House session
No Senate session
Thurs. Sept. 22 House 11:02 a.m. to 11:42 a.m.
Senate 11:24 a.m. to 11:48 a.m.
Fri. Sept. 23 No House session
No Senate session
Bob Katzen welcomes feedback at email@example.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.