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Saugus – December 9, 2022 – Volume 47- Report No. 48

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If you have any questions about this week’s report, e-mail us at bob@beaconhillrollcall.com or call us at (617) 720-1562.

Beacon Hill Roll Call

Volume 47- Report No. 48

November 28 – December 2, 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 or Senate last week. This week, Beacon Hill Roll Call presents Part 2 of a post-election look at action from 2022 that changed the state’s election laws. Here are the five key 2022 Senate votes on election laws.


   Senate 37-3, approved and Gov. Charlie Baker signed into law a conference committee version of a bill making permanent the mail-in and early voting options used in Massachusetts in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic. The House and Senate had approved different versions of the bill and a conference committee hammered out this compromise version which did not include the section allowing same day voter registration that was in the Senate version but not in the House one.


  The measure requires the secretary of state to send out mail-in ballot applications, with return postage guaranteed, to registered voters before each presidential primary, state primary and biennial state election. It also allows registered voters to request a mail-in ballot for all elections in a single calendar year.

   Other provisions include reducing the registration blackout period from 20 days prior to an election to 10 days; electronic voting options for voters with disabilities and military service members; allowing a voter with disabilities to request accommodations including an accessible electronic ballot application, ballot and voter affidavit that can be submitted electronically; ensuring that non-felons who are incarcerated who are currently eligible to vote are provided with voting information and materials to exercise their right to vote; mandating that felons who are incarcerated but prohibited from voting are notified of their right to vote upon release and given the opportunity to fill out a voter registration form; and requiring the secretary of state to conduct a comprehensive public awareness campaign to publicize the new voting and registration options.

   “This landmark election reform bill will empower voters and strengthen our democracy,” said Sen. Barry Finegold (D-Andover), Senate Chair of the Committee on Election Laws and the co-sponsor of the bill. “In 2020, mail-in and early voting options helped generate record-breaking turnout. It is now time to build on this progress and enact long-lasting voting reforms. The [bill] is a big step in the right direction and will help ensure that every voter can exercise their fundamental right to vote.”

   “I am so proud that at a time when access to the ballot is under attack in states nationwide, Massachusetts is passing landmark voting reforms to permanently enshrine expansions to voting access in statute and further underscore the commonwealth’s commitment to ensuring all eligible voters can exercise their right to vote,” said Senate Majority Leader Sen. Cindy Creem (D-Newton). “Although I am disappointed same-day registration was not included in the final bill, even with the Senate offering multiple compromise approaches, I will continue to push for its passage and plan to file legislation on the subject going forward.”


   Opponents say the bill goes too far and does not provide sufficient safeguards to protect the integrity of the voting process. They argued that universal mail-in voting was designed solely to protect voters during the pandemic and that continuing this forever would cost far too much for smaller towns

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

Sen. Brendan CrightonYes                                     


   Senate 13-25, rejected an amendment that would require each city and town to have at least one ballot drop box for voters to deposit their ballots from the day the ballots are printed and available to voters until the polls close on Election Day. The amendment requires municipalities with more than 25,000 voters to provide one drop box per 25,000 voters and requires the boxes to be in a public location that is accessible to voters for at least 12 hours per day.

   “During the 2020 election, we witnessed how the expanded use of ballot drop boxes provided a safe, convenient and accessible way of voting amid a global pandemic,” said amendment sponsor Sen. Becca Rausch (D-Needham). “However, in some of our largest cities and smaller towns, drop boxes were not a viable voting option because they weren’t accessible, weren’t open or didn’t even exist. We can fix that problem setting baseline standards for municipal ballot drop box accessibility.”

  “Mandating that municipalities maintain one ballot drop box per 25,000 residents would create substantial new costs and obligations,” said Sen. Cindy Creem (D-Newton). “Not only would municipalities have to purchase and deploy the drop box, they would have to devote staff time to the periodic collection of ballots and to collecting ballots on Election Day when they are already stretched thin.”

   (A “Yes” vote is for the ballot drop box requirements. A “No” vote is against them.)

Sen. Brendan CrightonNo                                      


  Senate 7-31, rejected an amendment that would allow voters to choose to become a permanent voter by mail for all future elections, a temporary voter by mail for all elections in a calendar year or a temporary voter by mail for one specific election. The measure automatically enrolls voters who voted by mail in the 2020 state primary and general election as permanent mail voters. Voters would also have the option to change their status at any time.

   Sponsor Sen. Becca Rausch said that the state does not require voters to reregister every year and should not require voters to sign up for various voting methods each year.

   “By allowing voters to choose automatic delivery of a ballot in every election, we tear down unnecessary barriers to exercising the right to vote,” said Rausch. “Every extra step we add to the process of voting—including forcing people to opt into vote by mail annually—places another burden on the voter in their exercising of this fundamental right. Elections must be accessible for all voters, plain and simple. Expanding voting options to include a permanent vote by mail status is one way we can empower voters to exercise their fundamental right to vote.”

   “We do feel that it is important that each voter opt in to vote by mail on a regular basis [because it] is goanna count for any address change, etc.,” said Sen. Barry Finegold (D-Andover). “People do move and this amendment would have ballots sent to their former address in perpetuity.”

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

Sen. Brendan CrightonNO                                     


  Senate 12-26, rejected an amendment that would require all employers to give each worker two hours of paid time off per election to vote. The employee could use that two hours to vote early in-person, vote by mail or vote on Election Day. The amendment would replace a current law that is narrower and requires the worker to apply for a leave of absence in order to vote and only allows the worker to vote during the two hours after the polls open on Election Day.

   “Workers should not have to choose between earning a paycheck and exercising their fundamental right to vote,” said sponsor Sen. Becca Rausch. “Where Massachusetts should be a leader in the nation on the issue of granting paid time off to head to the polls, we are notably far behind. Twenty-three other states and the District of Columbia already enacted paid time off for voting, and our commonwealth’s citizens deserve the same.”

   “I think if we really want to have a discussion about how we really wanna help people that are working two, three, four jobs, we should have that discussion,” said Sen. Barry Finegold. “But I don’t think this [amendment] solves that. There is a problem out there, that we did not have enough people in lower social economic communities take advantage of vote by mail, because they don’t trust the post office and there’s a lot of misconceptions up there. That is something I believe we need to work on, but I don’t think this is gonna be the solution to get people from lower social economic communities to come out to vote even more. I do think that with some of the things we have passed, having a better public relations campaign explaining the benefits of vote by mail, that is how we can get people from lower social economic communities to get out.”

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

Sen. Brendan CrightonNo                                      


   Senate 38-0, approved an amendment that would allow Massachusetts residents who are serving in the armed forces overseas and their families as well as any Massachusetts citizen living in a foreign country, to cast their vote electronically through a secure online portal.

   Amendment supporters said that the current process for voting from overseas is complex and burdensome. The voter is required to communicate with their local clerk, receive their ballot, print it out and fax, scan or mail it back. They noted that military members often do not have functioning printers, scanners or fax machines available to them on military installations or are out on missions that take them away from their installations.

   “When you are in the military, the focus is always on the mission at hand,” said sponsor Sen. John Velis (D-Westfield). “We as a commonwealth have an obligation to make this process as easy as poss                                                            ible so that our military members can exercise their right to vote and get back to their mission. At the most fundamental level, this amendment is about making it easier to vote for those who have given us our right to vote.”


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

Sen. Brendan CrightonYes                                     



    SCHOOL CUSTODIAN DAY (S 2126) – The House gave initial approval to a Senate-approved bill declaring every October 2nd as School Custodian Day, in recognition of “the dedicated contributions provided by school custodians to ensure children of the commonwealth have clean, healthy and safe learning environments.” The measure has already been approved by the Senate but still needs further approval in both chambers prior to it being sent to the governor for his signature.

   “This legislation codifies into the Massachusetts General Laws the governor issuing a yearly proclamation designating Oct. 2nd as School Custodian Day,” said sponsor Sen. Walter Timilty (D-Milton). “This will commemorate, rightfully so, the contributions provided by our dedicated school custodians who ensure that ou 

   LOWER VOTING AGE TO 16 – A bill lowering the voting age from 18 to 16 in the city of Boston for local municipal elections will soon be on its way to the Legislature after being approved 9-4 by the Boston City Council. This “home rule petition” needs the signature of Mayor Michelle Wu, approval by the House and Senate and finally the signature of Gov. Baker before it becomes law.

   “The notion that young people may not be mature enough to make decisions like this, I just want to quickly acknowledge oftentimes it’s young people who are educating their parents and their uncles and aunts and older folks about who’s running for office and why they should vote,” said Councilor Julia Mejia, a co-sponsor of the proposal.

   No one spoke against the measure at the meeting of the Boston City Council but opponents generally say that 16 and 17 is simply too young for people to vote.

   Many cities and towns over the past few years have approved home rule petitions lowering the voting age to 16 for their municipal elections. But none of the proposals were approved by the Legislature and most were shipped off to a study committee where they died.

   Mejia knows what she is up against. “We know what happens at the Statehouse. Most things go there to die,” she said.


    STATE AWARDS $2.5 MILLION TO 32  BAY STATE POLICE DEPARTMENTS FOR BODY-WORN CAMERAS – The Baker administration announced the state has awarded $2.5 million to 32 cities and towns to increase the number of police who wear body cameras.

   “Strong relationships between police and the communities they protect are vital to ensuring public safety,” said Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito. “Body-worn cameras help improve trust in these relationships and help make everyone safer. These grants are an important investment in our communities.” 

  “Body-worn cameras are a transformative tool for law enforcement,” said Public Safety and Security Secretary Terrence Reidy. “This technology strengthens transparency and accountability while promoting best practices and improving police-community relations.”

   COMMISSION ON CLEAN HEATING ISSUES REPORT – The state’s Commission on Clean Heat, established by Gov. Baker, issued its final recommendations and report.

   “As we work to reduce the release of carbon emissions and achieve Net Zero in 2050, the creation of the first-in-the-nation Commission on Clean Heat served as a critical step forward in engaging with a diverse group of experts to provide recommendations that will help Massachusetts decarbonize the building sector,” said Baker. “This set of recommendations is the result of hard work and commitment from the commission members, and we thank them for their dedication to this process.”

   “By creating the Commission on Clean Heat, Massachusetts was able to utilize expertise from a diverse group of respected professionals and stakeholders,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Beth Card. “The thoughtful work of the commission members in developing innovative policies and strategies provides critical support to our work to implement affordable and equitable solutions that reduce emissions from homes and buildings throughout the commonwealth.”

   The recommendations include creating an equitable approach to decarbonization of both existing and new buildings; on creating an equitable approach to decarbonization of both existing and new buildings; the development and implementation of a Clean Heat Standard; analyses of the potential impact of other associated regulatory changes; the reorganization of existing energy efficiency and clean energy transition programs to be more user friendly for residents, businesses and contractors.

  QUOTABLE QUOTES – The State House News Service has compiled a numbers profile of the senators and representatives as a result of the November election.


—Current number of senators (There is one vacancy)


—Current number of representatives (There are seven vacancies)


—Number of senators who will be sworn into office in January 2023


—Number of representatives who will be sworn into office in January 2023


—Number of new senators who will be sworn into office in January 2023.

21 or 22

—Number of new representatives who will be sworn into office in January 2023 (There are two recounts pending)


—Number of representatives who were elected to the Senate

   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 November 28-December2, the House met for a total of 28 minutes and the Senate met for a total of 23 minutes.

Mon.   Nov. 28   House 11:02 a.m. to 11:14 a.m.                   

                 Senate 11:06 a.m. to 11:19 a.m.

Tues.  Nov. 29   No House session

                 No Senate session


Wed.   Nov. 30   No House session

                 No Senate session 

Thurs. Dec. 1    House 11:02 a.m. to 11:18 a.m.                

                 Senate 11:12 a.m. to 11:22 a.m. 

Fri.   Dec. 2    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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