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Saugus – April 8, 2022

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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 March 28-April 1.


  House 156-0, approved and sent to the Senate a $250 million package that includes authorizing $200 million in one-time funding for the maintenance and repair of local roads and bridges in cities and towns across the state. The package, a bond bill under which the funding would be borrowed by the state through the sale of bonds, also includes $150 million to pay for bus lanes, improvement of public transit, electric vehicles and other state transportation projects.

  Supporters said the funding will help cities and towns make their streets and bridges safer for all drivers and will improve the state’s public transportation system. They noted that this funding, known as Chapter 90, is relied on every year by local communities but noted that this is not the only source of local aid for cities and towns.

  Geoff Beckwith, the executive director of the Massachusetts Municipal Association, is one of the biggest advocates for more Chapter 90 funding above the $200 million. “We are pleased that Chapter 90 and other important municipal transportation grant programs have been advanced by the House,” said Beckwith. “This is timely action to make sure that these funds are available for the upcoming construction season, and we look forward to continuing to work with lawmakers to address the long-term needs for local roads.”

  Many local officials across the state continue to advocate for additional money to increase the funding and argue that the cost of repairing roads has increased by up to 40 percent but the state has kept this funding flat at $200 million for the past 11 years.

  Rep. Bill Strauss (D-Mattapoisett), the House chair of the Transportation Committee and the sponsor of the bill, did not respond to repeated requests from Beacon Hill Roll Call for a comment.

  (A “Yes” vote is for the bill).

Rep. Jessica Giannino Yes

Rep. Donald Wong        Yes



  House 28-128, rejected an amendment that would provide an additional $25 million to cities and towns in one-time funding for the maintenance and repair of local roads and bridges across the state. This would be in addition to the $200 million already included in the spending package.

  “Roads are one of the biggest complaints we get from our constituents,” said amendment sponsor Rep. Kelly Pease (R-Westfield). “I believe that elected officials need to make dedicated road funding to our cities and towns a priority. Chapter 90 funding has not been increased for the last 11 years. Cities and towns throughout the commonwealth continue to take more and more money out of their budgets to try and keep up with the increasingly poor road conditions. This and schools are usually the biggest factors in property taxes going up. Again, I believe this issue needs to be one of our top priorities at the Statehouse.”

  Opponents noted that the package already contains $200 million for roads and bridges and an additional $150 million for other local transportation projects. They said that the current formula, created decades ago, for distribution of the funds is considered unfair by many cities and towns. They argued the House should wait until an attempt is made to change the formula so that the additional $25 million will be distributed in a fairer manner.

  Rep. Bill Strauss (D-Mattapoisett), the House chair of the Transportation Committee and the sponsor of the bill, did not respond to repeated requests from Beacon Hill Roll Call for a comment.

  (A “Yes” vote is for the $25 million. A “No” vote is against the $25 million).

Rep. Jessica Giannino No

Rep. Donald Wong        Yes



  Senate 40-0, approved 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. The House has approved a different version of the measure and the Senate version now goes to the House for consideration.

  “Today’s passage of the Crown Act is a symbol from the Massachusetts Legislature that we stand with women of color who have experienced hair discrimination,” said Sen. Adam Gomez (D-Springfield). “As a father to young women of color this legislation means a great deal to me, but legislation is just the first step. In order to change hearts and minds, you have to ensure that people know that this exists, that it is deeply wrong and that it is something that many women of color have … experience with.”

  “On the long march toward justice, and especially racial justice, the Senate’s unanimous passage of this legislation marks another step forward,” said Sen. Jason Lewis (D-Winchester). “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.”

  “Today, an African-American woman with natural hair voted on the Crown Act,” said Sen. Lydia Edwards (D-East Boston), referring to herself. “This is a perfect example of when the personal becomes political. I am grateful to Maya and Deanna and so many Black women who spoke up through and for our hair. This makes our commonwealth stronger and affirms our belief that we should be judged on the content of our character. Today’s politics is especially a blood sport so to see both houses and both parties come together for justice is especially meaningful.”

  (A “Yes” vote is for the bill).


Sen. Brendan Crighton Yes



  Senate 39-0, approved and sent to the House a bill that would allow car dealers in Massachusetts to provide temporary license plates for vehicles that are purchased by out-of-state residents and allow them to use the plates until the vehicle can be driven to and registered in their home state. The measure would direct the Registry of Motor Vehicles to design, issue and regulate the use of the license plates.

  Supporters said that under current regulations, out-of-staters leave the dealership after a purchase and are forced to coordinate a complicated delivery across state lines.

  Sen. Mike Rush (D-Boston), the bill’s sponsor, said the measure recognizes the growing business of online auto sales especially in New England which has a very compact set of states. He noted the legislation will bring in an estimated $75 million to the state in new sales tax revenue and noted that almost all states currently allow this.

 “I [am] a proud sponsor of [the bill],” said Rush. “As state senator representing the Norfolk and Suffolk district, I have the privilege of representing the largest stretch of auto dealers in Eastern Massachusetts, the Norwood ‘Auto Mile.’ This legislation will enhance auto sales throughout our commonwealth.”

  (A “Yes” vote is for the bill).

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 March 28-April 1, the House met for a total of 13 hours and 29 minutes and the Senate met for a total of nine hours and four minutes

Mon. March 28 House 11:00 a.m. to 11:49 a.m.

                          Senate 11:14 a.m. to 11:50 a.m.


Tues. March 29 House 11:00 a.m. to 11:04 a.m.

                           No Senate session


Wed. March 30 House 11:06 a.m. to 2:57 p.m.

                          No Senate session


Thurs. March 31 House 11:01 a.m. to 7:46 p.m.

                             Senate 11:19 a.m. to 7:47 p.m.


Fri. April 1 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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