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Saugus Volume 47 – Report No. 26

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Beacon Hill Roll Call

Volume 47 – Report No. 26

June 27-July 1, 2022

Copyright © 2022 Beacon Hill Roll Call. All Rights Reserved.

By Bob Katzen 

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   THE HOUSE AND SENATE: Beacon Hill Roll Call records representatives’ and senators’ votes on roll calls from the week of June 27-July 1.


   House 136-17, approved and sent to the Senate legislation designed to further protect reproductive health care and those who perform abortions in the Bay State. The measure specifically declares that  both reproductive health care and gender-affirming care is a “right secured by the constitution or laws” of Massachusetts and would shield providers of reproductive and gender-affirming care and their patients from out-of-state legal action.

   Key provisions include prohibiting Massachusetts law enforcement from providing information related to an investigation or inquiry into legally protected health care services to federal or another state’s law enforcement agencies or private citizens; protecting Massachusetts residents from efforts to enforce court rulings from other states based on health care activity that is legally protected in Massachusetts; prohibiting any Massachusetts court from ordering a person in Massachusetts to give testimony or produce documents for use in connection with any proceeding in an out-of-state tribunal concerning legally protected health care activity; prohibiting medical malpractice insurers from discriminating against a provider that offers reproductive or gender-affirming health care services; and requiring insurance coverage for abortion and abortion-related care without being subject to deductibles, coinsurance, copayments or other cost-sharing requirements.

   “The progress we’ve made to protect abortion rights in Massachusetts distinguishes us at a time when millions of people across the country are losing their access to care,” said Dr. Jennifer Childs-Roshak, President of Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts. “Now we must urgently expand access by making abortion care more affordable and supporting providers so they can safely provide care,” 


   Rep. Ruth Balser (D-Newton), a 73-year old House member, said she is “a woman who is old enough to remember the days before Roe v. Wade,” and described “the pain that in particular my generation of women are feeling, that that hard-fought and won right has been ripped from us.” 


   Rep. Colleen Garry (D-Dracut) was the only representative to speak against the measure during debate on the House floor. “I voted against [it] because it went way beyond making abortions available and safe for women from other states and protecting our abortion providers,” said Garry. “The bill makes abortions free in Massachusetts eliminating any co-pays or cost sharing and allowing women from other states to qualify for MassHealth coverage for abortions. Nothing is free in this world. The health insurance ratepayers in Massachusetts will be paying for all of these abortions through their own insurance premiums. It also expanded availability for late term abortions to include not only the ‘fatal fetal anomaly’ provision from the Roe Act but went further to include access when the mother and her doctor decide that there is a ‘severe’ fetal anomaly, which is not defined in the legislation.”

   “The Supreme Court’s decision to completely overturn Roe v. Wade represents a fundamental attack on women’s rights,” said House Speaker Ron Mariano (D-Quincy).  “Now, more than ever, it is the responsibility of leaders in Massachusetts to ensure that the commonwealth can serve as a sanctuary for women seeking reproductive health care, and for providers whose licenses could be at risk because of this recent Supreme Court decision.”

   “Inflicting pain and death on another living, developing individual is not a right protected by the Constitution, no matter how warped the Democrats’ logic may be,” said Massachusetts Republican Party Chairman Jim Lyons.

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

Rep. Jessica GianninoYes                                     Rep. Donald Wong Yes                                     


   House 153-0, approved and sent to the Senate a bill that limits the use of health care plan mandated prescription drug “step therapy” protocols and provides more exemptions to the mandate. Step therapy requires the patient to try less expensive options before “stepping up” to drugs that cost more.

   “This is a great bill for patients,” said Health Care Financing Committee chair John Lawn (D-Watertown). “This legislation balances the need to manage utilization and control costs of expensive treatments with the moral imperative to protect patients who need life-saving treatments. Thanks to this bill, patients will get the right drug at the right time without delay.” 

   “A top priority of the House is to ensure that every resident of the commonwealth has access to quality, affordable health care, but controlling costs should never come at the expense of positive patient outcomes,” said House Speaker Ron Mariano (D-Quincy). “This legislation helps to achieve that goal by ensuring that patients in Massachusetts can circumvent step therapy protocols in instances where the process will result in delayed access to the only adequate medication.

   Conditions which would exempt a patient from trying the less expensive drug first include if the treatment will harm the patient, or if the patient previously tried the required treatment, or similar treatment, and it was ineffective.

   (A “Yes” vote is for the bill).

Rep. Jessica GianninoYes                                     Rep. Donald Wong Yes                                     


   House 153-0, approved $56 million in funding for the families of the victims of the COVID-19 outbreak at the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home.

   “No amount of money will ever make up for the devastating loss and heartbreak that these families have been through,” said Sen. John Velis (D-Holyoke) the chair of the Veterans and Federal Affairs Committee.  “That anguish and grief will always be there, but this settlement does ensure that the families will not have to continue to endure the painful process of litigation. I am glad that the House has passed this swiftly and am committed to getting these funds across the finish line in the Senate.”

   “No amount of money can make up for the loss these families have suffered,” said Rep. Patricia Duffy (D-Holyoke). “But I am gratified that an agreement has been reached and fulfilled.”

   (A “Yes” vote is for the bill).

Rep. Jessica GianninoYes                                     Rep. Donald Wong Yes                                     


   Senate 39-0, approved and sent to the House a measure that would repeal several archaic laws, still on the books in Massachusetts, which many people no longer see as criminal and/or may be unconstitutional.

   The bill would repeal archaic laws that intrude on an individual’s privacy regarding sexual activity by removing the statute that criminalizes sodomy, removing language that criminalizes “unnatural” acts and removing language pertaining to “common nightwalkers.” The bill would also establish a permanent law revision commission. The bill leaves in place statutes prohibiting prostitution and statutes prohibiting sex with animals.

   “In my America, there is a personal space the government has no business in,” said sponsor Sen. Will Brownsberger (D-Belmont). “These laws intrude into people’s personal space and they shouldn’t be on the books. The Supreme Court, for a while, has agreed with that. But lately, we are not sure where they are going. The repeal is long overdue but especially timely given [the recent] Supreme Court decision.”

   “At a time when conservative Supreme Court justices are invoking discriminatory 18th century laws, we want to make sure there are no laws in Massachusetts that invoke hateful treatment of the LBGTQ community or Puritan attitudes towards sex,” said Senate Judiciary chair Sen. Jamie Eldridge (D-Acton). “I’m also grateful that this legislation will repeal the common night walking statute, which has led to the mistreatment of many trans residents.”

   “It is undeniable that when it comes to human rights, we cannot rest on our assumptions at this moment in history,” said Sen. Julian Cyr (D-Truro). “First and foremost, the government has no business in people’s sex lives. Furthermore, in a commonwealth that prides itself on our social progressiveness, inclusivity and equality, our laws must reflect these vital ideals. By removing harmful, homophobic and transphobic language from our statutes, we are taking a well overdue step to ensure the letter of the laws promotes equity and justice for the most vulnerable members of our population.”

   (A “Yes” vote is for the bill).

Sen. Brendan CrightonYes                                     


   Senate 31-9, approved and sent to the House a bill that would make changes to the current civil asset forfeiture law that allows law enforcement and prosecutors to seize property which is alleged to have been involved in a crime.  Under current law, the burden of proof is on the owner of the items who believes that their possessions were improperly forfeited. That person is required to demonstrate that these items were not involved in a crime.

   The bill puts the burden of proof on law enforcement and prosecutors who would be required to prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that property seized is in fact subject to civil asset forfeiture under Massachusetts law. Forfeiture hearings would also include accused individuals’ legal counsel and the bill also limits the value of items taken in civil asset forfeiture to $250 or less.

   “Massachusetts civil asset forfeiture laws are ranked among the worst in the nation,” said sponsor Sen. Becca Rausch (D-Needham). “The Senate took steps to change that … Through collaboration with law enforcement, social justice advocates  and legislative partners, I believe the final bill strikes a good balance between supporting the good work done by our public safety personnel and enhancing the forfeiture process to better protect Bay Staters from any unjust confiscation.”

  “In my capacity as Senate Chair of the Committee on the Judiciary, I served as co-Chair of the Special Commission on Asset Forfeiture,” said Sen. Jamie Eldridge (D-Acton). “That special commission produced a powerful report calling for change to the commonwealth’s outdated approach to asset forfeiture. Massachusetts has one of the most unfair civil asset forfeiture laws in the country, with little due process – and has taken a bold step forward to reform that. For those facing criminal prosecution or those who are innocent co-owners of property that may have been tangentially related to crime, this bill represents transformational change for the good.”

   Opponents said the bill goes too far and offered several unsuccessful amendments including one that  would strike the right to free counsel and replace it with a commission to study whether counsel should be offered at no cost to indigents.

   Sen. Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester), the chief opponent of the measure, did not respond to several requests by Beacon Hill Roll Call to comment on why he opposed the bill.


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

Sen. Brendan CrightonYes                                     


   Senate 32-8, approved and sent to the House a bill that would expand the number of offenses for which juvenile courts may divert accused juveniles from prison to community service.  The measure gives juvenile judges the opportunity to decide, based on the facts of the case, if a child would be better served through a diversion program and receiving appropriate services in a community setting.


  “This legislation will reduce recidivism by providing more young people a chance to receive appropriate services in response to a bad decision and ultimately avoid the collateral consequences of a juvenile record,” said Senate Majority Leader Sen. Cindy Creem (D-Newton). “As the lead sponsor of the bill, I am happy that the Senate passed this important reform to our juvenile justice system.” 

   “I voted [against the bill] because of the provisions … expanding its scope to include violent crimes including assault and battery with a dangerous weapon,” said Sen. Marc Pacheco (D-Taunton).  He noted that the inclusion of these offenses as part of the expansion is a significant concern to the district attorney serving the constituents he represents and local law enforcement experts.  He argued that some amendments that were rejected ultimately would have struck a better balance.

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

Sen. Brendan CrightonYes                                     


   ACUPUNCTURE DETOX SPECIALISTS (S 2957) – The Senate approved and sent to the House a bill that would have the Bay State join 27 other states and allow certain qualified health care professionals to perform the standardized 5 needle-point ear acupuncture detoxification protocol (5NP)  – an extremely cost-effective treatment that has been shown to help those suffering from addiction and trauma. Research shows the treatment helps with addiction withdrawals, reduces drug cravings, decreases stress, anxiety, depression and other symptoms.

   Supporters said this is an affordable treatment with treatment costs estimated to be 23 cents per person and training costs as low as $125 per person. They noted that Massachusetts is currently the only New England state that does not have such a law. 

   “The opioid epidemic has affected all of our communities,” said sponsor Rep. Carole Fiola (D-Fall River). “This bill makes the  5NP protocol more accessible by expanding certification to qualified healthcare professionals. By doing this, we expand access to addiction treatment and add another tool to fight against opioid addiction at minimal cost.”

   HIV PREVENTION DRUGS (S 2955) – The Senate approved and sent to the House a bill that would allow pharmacists to prescribe, dispense and administer a short-term supply (60-days once in a two-year period) of HIV prevention drugs, known as pre-exposure prophylaxis(PrEP), to a patient without a prescription. The bill requires pharmacists to provide counseling regarding the use of PrEP and to connect patients without a primary care provider with a health care provider for ongoing care and to obtain a prescription for PrEP. 

   “PrEP is a game changer in HIV prevention that reduces the risk of HIV transmission by 99 percent,” said Sen. Julian Cyr (D- Truro). “While there has been great progress in managing HIV since the virus was first identified, tens of thousands of people continue to contract HIV each year, and gay and bisexual men, especially gay and bisexual men of color, are disproportionately impacted. Increasing access to this vital treatment by enabling pharmacists to prescribe PrEP and improving access to care by requiring pharmacists to link customers to medical care will bolster the Commonwealth’s overall public health and address health care inequities.”

   ANOTHER REP ANNOUNCES RESIGNATION FROM THE HOUSE – Eight-year incumbent Amesbury Republican Rep.  Jim Kelcourse has become the seventh representative to announce his resignation from the House to take another job. Kelcourse was confirmed by the Governor’s Council for a position on the State Parole Board that grants and supervises parolees . He resigned his House seat last week, bringing the total number of GOP members in the House to 27. Democrats currently hold the other 126 seats.

   “While I’m genuinely looking forward to serving the commonwealth in a new way in my new role, I will miss this job and this body,” said Kelcourse in his farewell speech on the House floor. “I won’t miss running for re-election every two years, but I will miss going door-to-door to talk to people in my district. I will miss picking up the phone at my office and helping someone find a new apartment or with their unemployment, or a small business with getting their utilities hooked up. I will miss how it feels to help in the way that all of us can and do in this role.” 

   Kelcourse joins a growing list of resignations including former Reps. Lori Ehrlich (D-Marblehead); Claire Cronin (D-Brockton); Maria Robinson (D-Framingham); Sheila Harrington (R-Groton); Carolyn Dykema (D-Holliston); and Tom Golden (D-Lowell).

   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 June 27-July 1, the House met for a total of eleven hours and 14 minutes and the Senate met for a total of seven hours and 50 minutes.

Mon.   June 27     House  11:01 a.m. to  12:07 p.m.

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

Tues.  June 28     House  11:01 a.m. to  12:07 p.m.

                   No Senate session

Wed.   June 29     House  11:02 a.m. to   7:35 p.m

                   No Senate session.


Thurs. June 30     House  11:05 a.m. to  11:34 a.m.                   

                   Senate 11:07 a.m. to   5:58 p.m.

Fri.   July  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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