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Revere – April 22, 2022

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By Bob Katzen

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  THE HOUSE AND SENATE: Beacon Hill roll Call records local senators’ votes on roll calls from the week of April 11-15. There were no roll calls in the House last week.


  Senate 37-3 approved a bill that would expand the clean energy industry and reduce emissions from the transportation and building sectors across the state with the goal of reaching net-zero emissions by 2050.

  Provisions include providing creating a $100 million Clean Energy Investment Fund, $100 million to incentivize adoption of electric vehicles and $50 million to increase the number of electric vehicle charging stations; requiring all new vehicles sold to produce zero emissions beginning in 2035; requiring the MBTA to purchase or lease only zero-emission buses starting in 2028 and to convert its entire fleet by 2040; increasing from $2,500 to $3,500 rebates for drivers who purchase electric vehicles; requiring the state to prepare a report on the estimated cost of converting school buses to zero-emission vehicles; and updating the procurement process for new offshore wind energy investments.

  “We know climate change is relentless, so we think Massachusetts needs to be relentless, too,” said Sen. Mike Barrett (D-Lexington), Senate chair of the Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy Committee. “No one’s around to give out ‘A’s’ for effort. What matters are results. [The bill] pushes back against global warming on multiple fronts, and with an emphasis on innovation and smart experimentation. It’s about thinking long-range but executing now, in the short term. It’s about problem-solving, confidence and even optimism.”

  “Clean energy policy must be as realistic as it is bold,” said Sen. Patrick O’Connor (R-Weymouth). “After over 12 hours of debate, the Massachusetts State Senate voted on a bill that was bold, but not realistic. Although well-intended, the final bill neglected undeniable realities for our economy, workforce and supply chain. My colleagues that voted no and I proposed a plan that would have boldly invested in a green future without putting too much strain on taxpayers, but this was rejected. That is why I voted against the final version of the bill.”

  “The [bill] will help Massachusetts reach net-zero emissions by 2050 by paving the road to clean transportation, clean buildings and clean electric and thermal energy,” said Sen. Cindy Creem (D-Newton), chair of the Senate Committee on Global Warming and Climate Change. “It is an impressive achievement, one that should give every resident of the commonwealth hope about our ability to mitigate climate change.”

  “The bill as written significantly increases demand for electricity, without corresponding cost controls, increases in supply and transmission capacity, or support for conservation measures,” said Sen. Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester). “These factors could well combine to cause economic harm and hardship, unsustainability and failure to meet the significant carbon reduction requirements of the Global Warming Solutions Act and its successors and related regulations.”

  “Combating climate change requires an honest assessment of the challenges before us, and constant work to change the course we are on,” said Senate President Karen Spilka (D-Ashland). “I’m proud to say that the Senate has never shied away from either and that we continue to lead on taking action to combat climate change.”

  “Many states are trying to provide tax relief for consumers and small businesses due to the high cost of inflation and states having extra money from over taxation,” said Paul Craney, spokesman for the Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance. The Massachusetts State Senate is taking another approach by passing a multifaceted climate bill which aims to restrict energy supplies and options for consumers while mandating costly alternatives. The Senate Democrats passed a climate bill which will eliminate popular and reliable gas- and -diesel powered vehicles, joining the likes of California. This ban will become a significant problem for Massachusetts motorists when their options are arbitrarily taken away from them due to this bill.”

  The House has already approved a different version of the proposal and the Senate version now goes to the House for consideration. The bills will likely end up in a conference committee to hammer out a compromise version.

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

Sen. Lydia Edwards Yes



  Senate 11-28, rejected an amendment that would convene a Building Justice With Jobs Task Force to establish the Building Justice With Jobs Plan – a statewide strategy to retrofit and electrify 1 million residential homes over the next ten years and to implement a comprehensive strategy that extends targeted financial resources for homes located in environmental justice communities.

  Another key provision transfers $1 billion in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) resources to the Mass Clean Energy Center, a state agency dedicated to increase and accelerate the growth of the state’s clean energy sector, create jobs, deliver statewide environmental benefits and secure long-term economic growth. Earmarked funds include $350 million to carry out the Building Justice With Jobs Plan; $250 million to establish a clean energy investment institution or mechanism including a green bank; and $150 million for clean energy infrastructure.

  “I am disappointed that our chamber passed up an incredible opportunity to invest in our collective future and our statewide economy,” said amendment sponsor Sen. Marc Pacheco (D-Taunton). “According to the 2050 Decarbonization Roadmap, we need to retrofit and electrify 1 million homes over the next decade to comply with our updated emission reduction laws. By deploying $1 billion of our one-time federal ARPA resources – which revert if unused – this powerful statewide plan would have helped ensure equity, create thousands of new clean energy jobs and ultimately achieve the progress we need to decarbonize our commonwealth. It is imperative that the Legislature invest these federal ARPA funds, which come at no cost to the state, otherwise, the cost of inaction will simply be unaffordable.”

  Amendment opponents said the amendment results in the Legislature giving too much power and authority to an unelected task force in place of the Legislature. They noted the amendment sets a bad precedent and might even be unconstitutional.

  Despite repeated requests from Beacon Hill Roll Call, several senators did not respond to a request to comment on why they voted against the amendment including two key players in the drafting of the bill: Sen. Mike Barrett (D-Lexington), Senate chair of the Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy Committee and Sen. Mike Rodrigues (D-Westport), the chair of the Senate Way and Means Committee.

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

Sen. Lydia Edwards No



  Senate 39-0, approved an amendment that would confirm the authority of local retirement boards to divest their respective pension funds from investments in fossil fuel companies including those in sectors related to coal and consumable fuels; integrated oil and gas; and oil and gas exploration and production.

  “The need for a local divestment option bill arose in 2017 after a local vote to divest retirement funds from fossil fuel companies was ruled invalid, on the basis that they lacked the authority to do so,” said Sen. Marc Pacheco (D-Taunton). “Fossil fuel investments are extremely volatile and in direct conflict with our continued progress toward a clean energy future. This amendment is a common-sense solution that empowers local communities to divest from fossil fuel companies by confirming their right to cut ties with risky long-term commitments.”

  (A “Yes” vote is for the amendment).

Sen. Lydia Edwards Yes



  Senate 39-0, approved an amendment that would require the Massachusetts Department of Transportation to provide each of the state’s 15 regional transit authorities (RTAs) with assistance to create an electric bus rollout plan that includes a goal to transition to zero-emission buses.

  Amendment supporters, noting that 55 percent of Bay State residents are serviced by the state’s 15 RTAs, said these RTAs need this assistance in order to make progress and reach the goal of all zero-emission buses.

  “I proposed this amendment to support RTAs in electrifying their bus fleets to ensure a sustainable and continued critical service to some of our most vulnerable groups including riders who are low-income, paratransit, older adults and essential workers,” said amendment sponsor Sen. Harriette Chandler (D-Worcester).

  (A “Yes” vote is for the amendment).

Sen. Lydia Edwards Yes



  Senate 39-0, approved and sent to the House a bill that would place into state law a current state policy regulation designed to ensure preservation of open space lands protected under Article 97 of the Massachusetts Constitution by ensuring there be no net loss of conservation land when a city, town or the state acquires conservation space and uses it to build on or develop. The land must be replaced with land of comparable acreage, location, fair market value and natural resource value.

  “I am pleased that the Senate has passed this legislation ensuring that all Massachusetts residents have access to public land and a healthy environment,” said Senate sponsor Sen. Jamie Eldridge (D-Acton). “Protecting public land is vitally important, and any loss has a direct impact on those who rely on open space lands. Throughout the COVID-19 shutdowns, public lands became an important part of everyday life for Massachusetts residents looking to exercise, spend socially distanced time with their loved ones and care for their mental and physical health during a time of great stress.”

  (A “Yes” vote is for the bill).


Sen. Lydia Edwards Yes



  Senate 39-0, approved and sent to the House legislation that would require homeowner insurance policies sold in Massachusetts to include coverage for the cost of cleaning up accidental home heating oil spills. Current law only requires companies to make the insurance available to a homeowner as a separate rider.

  Supporters said that remediation and clean up can cost homeowners anywhere from $20,000 to $1 million. They noted that most homeowners do not have this insurance because it must be bought separately as a rider and most of them don’t even know it is available.

  “This legislation is a necessity for homeowners protection and peace of mind,” said sponsor Sen. Anne Gobi (D-Spencer). “The cost of remediation is expensive and can force residents to seek risky financial maneuvers. It is only fair that the state takes actions to protect its citizens from this danger. I urge the House of Representatives to move quickly on this legislation, too. It is in the best interest of the residents of Massachusetts. This is the right move, and the time to act is now.”

  (A “Yes” vote is for the bill).

Sen. Lydia Edwards 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 April 11-15, the House met for a total of two hours and ten minutes and the Senate met for a total of 12 hours and 45 minutes

Mon. April 11 House 11:01 a.m. to 12:06 p.m.

                        Senate 11:23 a.m. to 11:44 a.m.


Tues. April 12 No House session

                        No Senate session


Wed. April 13 No House session

                       No Senate session


Thurs. April 14 House 11:03 a.m. to 12:08 p.m.

                          Senate 10:19 a.m. to 10:43 p.m.


Fri. April 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.

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