By Bob Katzen
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THE HOUSE AND SENATE. Beacon Hill Roll Call records local representatives’ and senators’ votes on roll calls from the week of February 28-March 4.
OFFSHORE WIND INDUSTRY (H 4515)
House 133-12, approved and sent to the Senate a bill to further develop and expand the offshore wind industry in Massachusetts. Provisions include investing hundreds of millions of dollars over the next decade in infrastructure, innovation, job training, supply chain capacity and transmission upgrades; providing job training, tax incentives, grants and loans; investing in long-term energy storage to help the state’s transition to renewable energy; and implementing a new charge that would add an estimated $1.37 to the average gas customer’s monthly bill to raise an estimated $23 million in new revenue that would be used to fund the programs, tax incentives and grants.
“I am thrilled that today the House passed legislation crucial to the development of a strong offshore wind industry in Massachusetts,” said Representative Jeff Roy (D-Franklin), House chair of the Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy. “Massachusetts waters have the greatest offshore wind potential out of the contiguous U.S. and this legislation will ensure that the commonwealth is prepared to harness that energy while also creating a just and robust local economy, educational opportunities for our residents and critical upgrades to our energy infrastructure without causing undue harm to our coastal habitats or maritime industries.”
“I’m immensely proud of the steps that the House took today to ensure Massachusetts remains at the forefront of renewable energy development,” said House Speaker Ron Mariano (D-Quincy). “Not only will this legislation help us reduce our carbon emissions and combat climate change, it will also spur economic development, modernize our energy infrastructure and create thousands of new jobs in the process.”
“While I completely agree that we need to do something about encouraging clean energy and offshore wind development, I think we could have found the funds in the current budget and not put the costs on the ratepayers,” said Rep. Colleen Garry (D-Dracut), the only Democrat to vote against the measure. “It is the economically challenged folks who can’t afford the major rehabs of older homes to save on gas and electric heating costs who will get hit with these charges. I believe this is definitely not the time to be adding more costs to homeowners with inflation and a slow economic recovery from the pandemic.”
(A “Yes” vote is for the bill. A “No” vote is against it.)
Rep. Jessica Giannino Yes
ELIMINATE THE ESTIMATED $1.37 PER CUSTOMER CHARGE TO FUND TAX CREDITS AND JOB TRAINING (H 4515)
House 28-127, rejected an amendment that would eliminate a new charge that would add an estimated $1.37 to the average gas customer’s monthly bill. The estimated $23 million in new revenue would be used to fund training programs, tax credits and incentives for companies.
“This would amount to about a two percent increase in a natural gas user’s bill each month,” said amendment sponsor Kelly Pease (R-Westfield). “It does not sound like a lot, but during these inflationary times and with gas and oil prices going out of control due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, it is not the time to raise rates on the people of the commonwealth. The critics of the amendment said it would get rid of the trust fund which would do away with job training and tax credits as well. This is true. By removing the funding it would eliminate those parts of the bill, but I believe that given the commonwealth is very financially strong that the trust fund and programs should be paid for out of existing state funds and not be putting the burden onto the citizens of Massachusetts by adding a rate increase to their monthly bills.”
Rep Jeff Roy (D-Franklin), House Chair of the Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy, said that the amendment seeks to strike the meat and potatoes from all of the elements that will strengthen this industry.
“The amendment would have eliminated provisions of the bill that make crucial investments into offshore wind and other clean energy technologies,” said Roy. “Massachusetts stands to realize significant economic gains by investing in our green infrastructure and workforce, and that’s an opportunity for our constituents that we cannot pass up.”
Readers: Please read carefully what a “Yes” and “No” vote mean.
(The amendment was on striking the estimated $1.37 fee. Therefore a A “Yes” vote is against the fee. A “No” vote for the fee.)
Rep. Jessica Giannino No
FREE MENSTRUAL PRODUCTS (H 2730)
Senate 40-0 approved and sent to the House a bill that would require primary and secondary schools, homeless shelters and prisons to provide free disposable menstrual products in a convenient and non-stigmatizing way.
“That we considered this bill today is a result of the leadership of so many young people, particularly high school students across the state, from Brookline to Belchertown,” said sponsor Sen. Pat Jehlen (D-Somerville). “Once you start thinking about it, the need seems obvious. As the menstrual equity coalition says, ‘non-menstruating people go into a bathroom expecting their basic bodily needs to be met—this is not the case for menstruators.’ This is now being seen as an issue because new generations are saying words out loud that used to be hidden by euphemisms, and they’re talking about needs that were unrecognized because they weren’t named.”
(A “Yes” vote is for the bill).
Sen. Lydia Edwards Yes
PREGNANT AND POST PARTUM MOTHERS (H 2731)
Senate 40-0, approved and sent to the House legislation designed to ensure that pregnant and postpartum mothers get necessary and potentially life-saving health care by extending MassHealth insurance coverage to 12 months after pregnancy. MassHealth is the state’s Medicaid program that provides health care for low-income and disabled persons. .
“Today, the Massachusetts Senate has taken another step to combat inequities in maternal health,” said sponsor Sen. Joan Lovely (D-Salem). “By extending postpartum healthcare coverage to a full year, birthing individuals will be able to access vital physical and behavioral health resources that will decrease mortality and severe morbidity and improve the overall health of parent and child, especially for our minority populations.”
Senate President Karen Spilka (D-Ashland) said, “The danger of dying during pregnancy or childbirth is still far too high in the United States, particularly for Black women, but the Senate is committed to continuing our efforts to ensure pregnant and postpartum mothers and people who give birth receive the critical care they need and deserve.”
(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 immediately preceding the end of an annual session.
During the week of February 28-March 4, the House met for a total of six hours and 24 minutes and the Senate met for a total of four minutes and 28 minutes.
Mon. Feb. 28 House 11:00 a.m. to 11:13 a.m.
Senate 11:00 a.m. to 11:36 a.m.
Tues. March 1 House 11:01 a.m. to 11:40 a.m.
No Senate session
Wed. March 2 No House session
No Senate session
Thurs. March 3 House 11:02 a.m. to 4:34 p.m.
Senate 11:11 a.m. to 3:03 p.m.
Fri. March 4 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.