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Saugus – November 24, 2021

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By Bob Katzen

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  THE HOUSE AND SENATE. Beacon Hill Roll Call records local senators’ and representatives’ votes on roll calls from the week of November 15-19.


  House 151-8, Senate 26-3, approved and sent to Gov. Charlie Baker a bill that redistricts the state’s nine congressional districts. The plan is based on the 2020 U.S. census and will be in effect until the next redistricting cycle following the census in 2030.

  Supporters said the process has been the most open, inclusive and transparent redistricting process in the history of the state.

  “The Joint Committee on Redistricting conducted a broad, transparent examination of the congressional districts,” said Senate Redistricting Committee chair Sen. Will Brownsberger. “Hundreds of people participated. At the end we felt we had a plan that met all legal standards and it was uncontested in most respects.”

  “This proposal simply does not meet the mark for millions of Bay Staters, slashing MetroWest into five different bits and bifurcating Fall River and New Bedford,” said Sen. Becca Rausch (D-Needham). “This map will have an impact on our democracy for at least the next decade to come. It is imperative that we do this right and that means advancing equity and compactness, not diluting representational power.”

  “There is an inherent conflict of interest in having sitting office holders deciding where district lines should go,” said Rep. Lenny Mirra (R-Georgetown). “Other states have figured this out and have created independent commissions to do redistricting. It’s time Massachusetts does the same.”

  (A “Yes” vote is for the new districts. A “No” vote is against them.)


Rep. Jessica Giannino Yes

Rep. Donald Wong        Yes

Sen. Brendan Crighton Yes



  House 157-2, approved a bill requiring public schools to educate middle and high school students on the history of genocide. The measure also establishes a Genocide Education Trust Fund to help fund the teaching. The funds would come from the Legislature, private and public gifts and grants and revenue from fines imposed for hate crimes.

  Supporters cited a 2020 survey, commissioned by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, which gauged Holocaust knowledge and found that 63 per cent of millennials and Generation Z population, did not know six million Jews were murdered in the Holocaust. The survey also found that nearly half were unfamiliar with Nazi concentration camps like Auschwitz.

  “It is shocking how many young people today have never heard of the Auschwitz concentration camp, the Holocaust or other heinous genocides perpetrated in the past,” said Sen. Jason Lewis (D-Winchester), Senate Chair of the Committee on Education. “This important legislation will ensure that more students understand the history of genocide so that it never happens again.”

  “It is very important that the history of genocide is taught in our schools,” said Rep. Kelly Pease (R-Westfield) one of the two representatives who voted against the proposal. “However all the genocides that were discussed for the bill are already covered by Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) curriculum. If there are shortcomings in how it is taught then that should be addressed, but not by setting up a separate fund that includes money from public and private sources such as gifts, grants and donations. DESE has already established the curriculum, why is more public and private money needed?”

  “Massachusetts has always been at the forefront of human rights issues, and today, with the passage of this bill, we can do it again,” said Rep. Jeff Roy (D-Franklin). “We can arm our students with the knowledge they will need to recognize the warning signs and feel empowered to prevent genocides in the future. Making genocide education a mandatory topic for teaching in our schools is a reaffirmation of the commitment of free people from all nations to never again permit the occurrence of another genocide and to deter indifference to crimes against humanity and human suffering wherever they occur.”

  Rep. Peter Durant (R-Spencer), the only other representative to vote against the bill, did not respond to repeated requests by Beacon Hill Roll Call to comment on his opposition to the bill.

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

Rep. Jessica Giannino Yes

Rep. Donald Wong        Yes



  House 158-1, approved and sent to the Senate a bill that supporters say will promote a more balanced health care market by strengthening the regulatory processes for health care expansions. The measure requires a rigorous review to ensure that when large hospital systems expand, they are not infringing on community hospital markets and raising health care costs for patients.

  “The legislation … continues the House’s commitment to health care as demonstrated in Massachusetts’ health care reform law of 2006 and of the landmark cost containment law of 2012,” said Rep. John Lawn (D-Watertown), the House Chair of the Committee on Health Care Financing. “Community hospitals operate on thin margins and with the constant possibility of closure. The bill passed by the House … limits unchecked growth of hospital chains, better suiting community hospitals to survive and ensuring continued competition in the health care market.”

  “The House took a major step in working to guarantee that every Massachusetts resident has access to quality, affordable health care by passing legislation that will protect community hospitals,” said Speaker of the House Ron Mariano (D-Quincy). “Community hospitals offer high-quality care to the most vulnerable patient populations at affordable rates. Our efforts to control health care cost growth depends on their continued existence.”

  “Other states are beginning to roll back determination of need laws, because they negatively impact healthcare,” said Rep. Nick Boldyga (R-Southwick), the lone vote against the bill. “But here we are doing just the opposite. Protectionist policies like this one restrict competition, stifle innovation and lower the quality of healthcare a patient receives all while ensuring costs remain high. We need more competition when it comes to healthcare, not less.”

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

Rep. Jessica Giannino Yes

Rep. Donald Wong        Yes



  Senate 39-0, approved and sent to the House legislation, known as the Mental Health Addressing Barriers to Care (ABC) Act that will make mental health care more accessible in the Bay State.

  “Today, the Massachusetts Senate took vital strides toward transforming mental health care in Massachusetts,” said Sen. Julian Cyr (D-Truro), House chair of the Committee on Mental Health, Substance Use and Recovery. “By unanimously passing [this bill], we affirm that mental health is just as essential as physical health and take a leap forward to ensure that all people in Massachusetts can access the mental health care they need and deserve.”

  “Massachusetts’ health care system should deliver affordable, high quality and accessible care to all of our residents—including mental health care,” said Sen. Cindy Friedman (D-Arlington), Senate chair of the Committee on Health Care Financing. “This bill recognizes that mental health care is just as important, valuable and worthy of treatment as physical health care. And begins to tackle our most pressing issues, such as expanding services to all corners of the commonwealth, enforcing existing parity laws and addressing the boarding crisis in our Emergency Departments that is impacting too many of our children and families.”

  (A “Yes” vote is for the bill).

Sen. Brendan Crighton Yes



  Senate 38-0, approved an amendment that would require the state to designate at least one 988 crisis hotline center to provide crisis intervention services and crisis care coordination 24 hours per day, seven days a week for individuals accessing the federally designated 988 suicide prevention and behavioral health crisis hotline.

  “Over a year ago, the federal government created the 988 hotline,” said amendment sponsor Sen. Susan Moran (D-Falmouth). “The 988 hotline is a 3-digit phone number for Americans to call when in a mental health crisis. The line will be fully operational by July 2022. This is where states come in. Just because the phone line runs, doesn’t mean there will be services ready to respond when someone calls. It is our role to ensure that when people call the hotline, there is someone in the state that is ready and available to respond.”

  Moran noted that the hotline must also have the capability to serve a diverse set of populations and be able to serve individuals who are high-risk or have specialized needs because they have substance use disorder, other mental health conditions or developmental disabilities. “In addition, these crisis centers must be able to service a diverse range of people at different ages, races, ethnicity, sexual orientation, sexual identity and language spoken,” continued Moran. Moreover, to serve everyone in every place in the commonwealth, they must be able to provide crisis and outgoing services in a reasonable time in all areas of the 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 November 15-19, the House met for a total of 14 hours and 47 minutes while the Senate met for a total of eight hours.

Mon. Nov. 15 House 11:06 a.m. to 1:29 p.m.

                       Senate 11:15 a.m. to 11:41 a.m.


Tues. Nov. 16 House 11:05 a.m. to 4:02 p.m.

                         No Senate session


Wed. Nov. 17 House 11:02 a.m. to 6:25 p.m.

                       Senate 11:07 a.m. to 6:38 p.m.


Thurs. Nov. 18 House 11:00 a.m. to 11:04 a.m.

                          Senate 11:09 a.m. to 11:12 a.m.


Fri. Nov. 19 No House session

                    No Senate session


Bob Katzen welcomes feedback at bob@beaconhillrollcall.com

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