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Beacon Hill Roll Call
Volume 47 – Report No. 42
October 17-21, 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 continues its look at the ballot questions that will be on the November ballot for voter consideration. This week: Question 4. Should the state allow, starting July 1, 2023, undocumented/illegal immigrants to apply for a Massachusetts standard driver’s license?
Question 4, unlike Questions 1, 2 and 3, is not listed in the hardcopy Redbook, distributed by the secretary of state, to households across the state, which provides Information to voters on ballot questions. The group that put Question 4 on the ballot had until September 2022 to collect enough signatures to get it on the ballot but the deadline to be included in the Redbook was In July so the details of Question 4 are only on the secretary of state’s website at: https://www.sec.state.ma.us/ele/ele22/information-for-voters-22/quest_4.htm
QUESTION 4 – ALLOWING DRIVER’S LICENSES FOR UNDOCUMENTED/ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS – The fourth question on the November ballot asks voters if they support a law, approved by the Legislature, which will allow, starting July 1, 2023, undocumented/illegal immigrants to apply for a Massachusetts standard driver’s license.
The legislation requires an applicant “without legal presence” in the United States to provide the Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) with a foreign passport and at least one of six other documents: a driver’s license from another state, a foreign driver’s license, a birth certificate, a foreign national identification card or a marriage certificate or divorce decree from any U.S. state.
The House and Senate approved the bill on May 26, 2022, but Gov. Charlie Baker vetoed it the next day on May 27. A few days later the House 119-36, Senate 32-8, voted to override the governor’s veto and the bill was all set to take effect in July 2023. But opponents of the law stepped in and gathered sufficient signatures to put the question on the November ballot so voters could decide its fate. If voters approve the proposal, it will become law on July 1, 2023. If voters reject the proposal, it will essentially be repealed and will not take effect at all.
“I cannot sign this legislation because it requires the Registry of Motor Vehicles to issue state credentials to people without the ability to verify their identity,” Baker had
said in his veto message back in May 2022. “The Registry does not have the expertise or ability to verify the validity of many types of documents from other countries. The bill also fails to include any measures to distinguish standard Massachusetts driver’s licenses issued to persons who demonstrate lawful presence from those who don’t.”
“I strongly support voting Yes on Question 4 this November election to preserve the Work and Family Mobility Act and improve road safety for all Massachusetts drivers,” said one of the bill’s original sponsors Rep. Christine Barber (D-Somerville). “Endorsed by the Massachusetts Major Cities Chiefs of Police and the majority of Massachusetts sheriffs and district attorneys, ‘Yes on 4’ has overwhelming support from law enforcement. We continue to build support, as people understand our roads are safer with more licensed and insured drivers.”
“This law tasks RMV employees with reviewing hundreds of new foreign documents, in hundreds of different languages and formats, without any additional training or safeguards,” said Sen. John Velis (D-Westfield). “That has very real security implications for our commonwealth, especially when you consider our RMV’s history of problematic issues. That is why I voted against this law twice in the Senate and will vote No on Question 4 as well.”
“A Yes on 4 means that we uphold the Work and Family Mobility Act, passed by a three quarters margin of the legislature which requires all drivers in Massachusetts to be trained, licensed and insured,” said Sen. Tricia Farley Bouvier (D-Pittsfield), one of the original sponsors of the measure. “I join a broad coalition of faith communities, business people and unions who believe we are all safer on the roads when we all follow the same rules of the road. Though there has been little time to mount the ‘Yes on 4’ campaign, the coalition that was built over many years has mobilized quickly to educate voters. Our biggest challenge is that most folks don’t know it’s even on the ballot. The media campaign coupled with grassroots canvassing in every corner of the commonwealth is finding great success. We will win. Again.”
“Giving driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants will make our roads much less safe, and as Gov. Baker said, the RMV is not equipped to handle these complex immigration issues,” said Paul Craney, spokesperson for the Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance. “It’s unfair to ask the Massachusetts RMV to do the job that our federal Department of Homeland Security is supposed to be doing. A Massachusetts driver’s license will no longer be able to verify the true identify of that person. This opens the floodgates to all sorts of problems for our state in the near future.”
“I am voting Yes on Question 4 because more licensed and insured drivers will make the roads safer for us all,” said Sen. Brendan Crighton (D-Lynn), one of the sponsors of the original bill. “This common-sense legislation was the culmination of years of collaboration between legislators, community groups and law enforcement. I am confident that when equipped with the facts about what this law does and does not do, Massachusetts residents will vote to uphold the law.”
“This repeal is an opportunity for voters to decide if this law is right for Massachusetts,” said Sen. Ryan Fattman (R-Sutton). “As one of the 10 original signers of this petition, I collected several thousand signatures to bring this law before the people so they can consider the ramifications of this license law. It opens the door to non-citizen voting and creates public safety and security issues through the identity verification of foreign documents that are not generally accepted in litigious societies, both reasons enumerated when Gov. Baker vetoed the original law. I believe and trust that the voters will make the correct call in November.”
FROM THE REDBOOK:
Here’s the official arguments of the supporters and opponents as they appear on the secretary of state’s website. As explained earlier, the question does not appear in the Redbook—distributed by the secretary of state, to households across the state, that provides information to voters on ballot questions. More Information about Question 4 can be found on the secretary of state’s website at https://www.sec.state.ma.us/ele/ele22/information-for-voters-22/quest_4.htm
IN FAVOR OF:
Written by: Franklin Soults
Yes on 4 for Safer Roads
“A Yes vote will keep in place a law that allows all drivers in Massachusetts to be properly vetted for licenses (by providing proof of identity, date of birth, and residency), pass required tests and buy insurance, regardless of immigration status.
A Yes vote means safer roads and better tools for law enforcement to do their jobs. In 17 states with similar laws, passage led to declines in uninsured drivers and hit-and-run crashes. That’s why this measure is endorsed by over 60 law enforcement officials statewide—including most sheriffs, district attorneys, and all 42 police chiefs in the Massachusetts Major Cities Chief of Police Association.
Voting Yes helps families and workers by ensuring they can drive legally to school and work. It makes sense for all of us.
That is what Massachusetts law provides and a Yes vote will keep in place.”
Written by: John Milligan
Fair and Secure Massachusetts
“In his veto message of this bill, Gov. Charlie Baker made it known that the Registry of Motor Vehicles does not have the capability or expertise necessary to verify documents from other countries and notes that, if this bill becomes law, Massachusetts drivers’ licenses will no longer confirm that a person is who they say they are.
Additionally, Gov. Baker states the bill specifically restricts the Registry’s ability to share citizenship information with entities responsible for ensuring only citizens register to vote and vote in our elections, significantly increasing the likelihood that noncitizens will register to vote.
This bill is patently unfair to those who have taken the time to immigrate to our great country via legal means and significantly diminishes the public safety of all residents of the commonwealth. We urge a No vote on this issue.”
HOW YOUR LEGISLATORS VOTED ON THE DRIVER’S LICENSE BILL
Listed below is how your local state representatives and senators voted on the proposed law in June 2022:
(A “Yes” vote is for allowing, starting July 1, 2023, undocumented/illegal immigrants to apply for a Massachusetts standard driver’s license. A “No” vote is against allowing it.)
Rep. Jessica GianninoYes Rep. Donald Wong No Sen. Brendan Crighton Yes
ALSO UP ON BEACON HILL
THEFT OF CATALYTIC CONVERTERS (H 4722) – The House approved and sent to the Senate a bill that would create a “chain of custody” for used catalytic converter sales. A catalytic converter is a device that converts the environmentally hazardous exhaust emitted by a vehicle’s engine into less harmful gasses. The measure requires the buyer to keep records of each converter purchased, from which vehicle it was removed from, and who the seller was. These records would be made available upon request to law enforcement.
Supporters explained that several communities have seen a rise in catalytic converter thefts because the converters use platinum, palladium or rhodium to operate. According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, the values of these precious metals contained inside catalytic converters have skyrocketed and is staggering. As of March 2022, rhodium is valued at $20,000 per ounce; palladium at $2,938 per ounce; and platinum at $1,128 per ounce.
The Cavallo and Signoriello Insurance Agency in Massachusetts’ website says that an ounce of palladium is now worth more than an ounce of gold. Rhodium, meanwhile, is currently worth six times the price of gold, more than $10,000 per ounce. For thieves, this means a catalytic converter might be a better score than the average wedding band or gold watch.
“Many scrapyards and black-market buyers have an open call out for catalytic converters, which they turn around and sell to metal recyclers,” continues the website. “Ten years ago, a thief could earn between $20 and $200 per stolen converter. Today, thanks to the spike in the value of these metals, that range is more like $300 to $850, for just a few minutes of work.”
“ I am very pleased that this bill has moved forward out of the House,” said sponsor Rep. Steve Howitt (R-Seekonk). “Catalytic converter theft is epidemic. Hopefully this legislation will assist in stemming the tide of these thefts and assist law enforcement in apprehending these criminals preying on our citizens.”
RARE DISEASE DAY (H 3101) – The House approved and sent to the Senate a bill designating the last day of February as rare disease day in Massachusetts in order to “increase public awareness of rare diseases which affect millions of Americans resulting in special challenges encountered by patients and their families as well as the impact upon medical professionals, researchers, educators and others who serve the rare disease community.”
Supporters said the legislation will call attention to the public health issues associated with rare diseases. They noted that research can lead to an increased understanding of diseases, the development of innovative treatments and in some cases, a cure. Patients and families living with rare diseases face many challenges such as finding accessible medical care and affordable treatments.
“I filed this bill in support of constituents in my district and all people who are currently suffering with a rare disease,” said sponsor Rep. Brian Ashe (D-Longmeadow). “Raising public awareness is critical to increasing funding for research, providing patients with additional resources, and hopefully resulting in a cure. I am thrilled this legislation has been engrossed by the House and I am hopeful the Senate will do the same and the governor will sign it into law.”
DESIGNATING JULY 8 AS MASSACHUSETTS EMANCIPATION DAY (H 3117) – The Senate approved a measure, sponsored by Rep. Michelle Ciccolo (D-Lexington), designating July 8 as Massachusetts Emancipation Day also to be known as Quock Walker Day, in recognition of the court ruling that rendered slavery unconstitutional in the commonwealth. Walker, born to enslaved Black parents in Massachusetts, was the driving force behind this ruling.
Supporters explained that Walker, who was born to enslaved Black parents in the Bay State, self-emancipated at 28 years old. When his former enslaver found him, Walker sued for his freedom, and on July 8th, the Massachusetts Supreme Court found that Walker was a free man. This critical decision served as the precedent that ended slavery in the state on constitutional grounds and led to Massachusetts becoming the first state in the nation to abolish slavery.
“The inspiration for this bill comes from Sean Osborn, a Lexington resident and historian who founded the Association of Black Citizens of Lexington,” said Rep. Ciccolo. “I am looking forward to annually commemorating Quock Walker’s significant place in our state’s history.”
The House has already approved the bill. Only final House and Senate action are required prior to the proposal going the Gov. Baker.
QUOTABLE QUOTES – By the Numbers Edition
— From research by WeWin.com, a personal injury law firm in Louisville, Kentucky declaring Massachusetts as the safest state in which to drive.
—The Number of applications the Massachusetts Gaming Commission received for sports wagering licenses by the deadline of October 17.
$3,601,569.28. from winners at Bay State casinos and slot parlors to pay for unpaid child support and back taxes.
The number of the state’s 50 most prominent boards and commissions that are chaired by women, according to Foundation’s Women’s Power Gap Initiative which says this is the first time this has occurred.
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 October 17-21, the House met for a total of 25 minutes and the Senate met for a total of 43 minutes.
Mon. Oct. 17 House 11:01 a.m. to 11:13 a.m.
Senate 11:11 a.m. to 11:20 a.m.
Tues. Oct. 18 No House session
No Senate session
Wed. Oct. 19 No House session
No Senate session
Thurs. Oct. 20 House 11:00 a.m. to 11:13 a.m.
Senate 11:06 a.m. to 11:40 a.m.
Fri. Oct. 21 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.