By Bob Katzen
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THE HOUSE AND SENATE: Beacon Hill roll Call records local senators’ votes on roll calls from a recent session. The three Senate roll calls are on proposed amendments to an energy bill, approved by the Senate, which 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.
There were no roll calls in the House or Senate last week.
REPUBLICAN ALTERNATIVE TO ENERGY BILL (S 2819)
Senate 3-36, rejected a Republican version of the energy bill that would replace the Democratic version. The GOP version would create a central Decarbonization and Energy Independence Fund that would be funded by $250 million from state funding and another $250 million from the state’s portion of federal funding from the American Rescue Plan Act.
Supporters of the GOP bill said the Independence Fund would be used to modernize the state’s electric grid, provide more rebates for the purchase of electric vehicles and charging stations, provide grants to regional transit authorities and local school districts for the purchase of zero-emission busses and other vehicles and facilitate tax credits for the transition of commercial vehicles and equipment to lower emission substitutes.
“We take the challenges of reducing carbon emissions and supplying the state’s energy needs seriously,” said Senate Republican Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester). “And we are putting a plan on the table to effectively use state and federal funding to meet the most pressing needs involved in addressing those challenges, while working to ensure that consumers have access to the energy that they need without undue risk of the rate shock that can accompany ambitious goals without the energy supplies and infrastructure to meet them. Our plan directs attention and spending to the places they need to go today to make cost-effective differences for tomorrow.”
Opponents of the GOP bill said it is a truncated version of the Democrat’s progressive bill and leaves out many good parts of the Democratic version including a provision that would remove biomass from the definition of clean energy sources. They said that large wood-burning electric power plants should not be counted as clean energy like wind and solar because biomass burned at that level creates tiny particles that get into people’s lungs.
Sen. Mike Barrett (D-Lexington) got a plug in for Attorney General Maura Healey and Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz (D-Boston), the two women who are running for the Democratic nomination for governor, when he said that another difference in the two versions is that the Democratic one gives the next governor, “whoever she may be,” an opportunity to shape policy.
(A “Yes” vote is for the Republican version. A “No” vote is against it).
Sen. Brendan Crighton No
OFF-SHORE WIND (S 2819)
Senate 5-34, rejected a new amendment that would require the solicitation and procurement of a statewide offshore wind capacity total of 10,600 megawatts by 2030. Another provision would establish an ocean ecosystem protection practices designed to avoid, minimize and mitigate impact to wildlife, natural resources, ecosystems and traditional or existing water-dependent uses.
Sen. Marc Pacheco (D-Taunton) said he sponsored the new amendment because offshore wind is a critical component of the state’s clean energy future that must be incorporated as quickly as possible in order to ensure compliance with the state’s Global Warming Solutions Act requirements. He noted that the new amendment would require the procurement of 10,600 megawatts by 2030 instead of 10,000 megawatts by 2035 that was required in an earlier amendment.
“While the Senate acted favorably on [the earlier] amendment, which I also supported as a co-sponsor, [this new] amendment that would have required the procurement of an additional 600 megawatts by 2030 instead of by 2035—that is, five years sooner,” said Pacheco. “Although I am pleased that the Senate took favorable action to include additional offshore wind capacity, ultimately we must act with more urgency to seize the economic benefits of a robust statewide offshore wind workforce and achieve compliance with our updated emission reduction laws.”
“I am a fierce proponent of offshore wind, and I’m proud that the Senate adopted [the original] amendment which I filed to bolster offshore wind procurement,” said Sen. Julian Cyr (D-Truro) who voted against the new amendment. “The [original] amendment increases the commonwealth’s target to at least 10,000 megawatts of offshore wind generation capacity by 2035—which will account for a third of the nation’s offshore wind goal. The [new] amendment was redundant, considering the Senate already took action to advance the [original] amendment—hence why I voted no.”
(A “Yes” vote is for the new amendment. A “No” vote is against it).
Sen. Brendan Crighton No
COMMERCIAL FISHING (S 2819)
Senate 39-0, approved an amendment that would provide a preference for offshore wind proposals that can clearly demonstrate meaningful collaboration with commercial fishing in order to foster the long-term coexistence and sustainability of the two industries.
“As the offshore wind industry continues to develop, we must take steps to protect our existing commercial fishing fleet that produces an enormous impact on our ports and the Massachusetts economy,” said sponsor Sen. Mark Montigny (D-New Bedford). “By emphasizing the importance of commercial fishing during the development and consideration of offshore wind proposals, we can help ensure that a robust fishing fleet can coexist with a new renewable energy industry that can increase energy independence and reduce carbon emissions.”
(A “Yes” vote is for the amendment).
Sen. Brendan Crighton 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 18-22, the House met for a total of 57 minutes and the Senate met for a total of 42 minutes.
Mon. April 18 No House session
No Senate session
Tues. April 19 House 11:02 a.m. to 11:29 a.m.
Senate 11:10 a.m. to 11:33 a.m.
Wed. April 20 No House session
No Senate session
Thurs. April 21 House 11:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
Senate 11:05 a.m. to 11:24 a.m.
Fri. April 22 No House session
No Senate session
Bob Katzen welcomes feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org 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.