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Volume 47-Report No. 41

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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. 41

October 10-14, 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 3: Additional licenses for the sales of alcoholic beverages.

   QUESTION 3 – EXPANDS AVAILABILITY OF LICENSES FOR OFF-PREMISES CONSUMPTION OF ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES – The third question on the November ballot asks voters if they support a law that would increase the statewide limits on the combined number of licenses that one retailer could control for the sale of alcoholic beverages and beer and wine for off-premises (non-restaurant and bar) consumption. Off-premises includes package stores, supermarkets and other venues where alcohol can be purchased but not consumed. The law would increase the number from the current nine to 12 licenses in 2023; 15 licenses in 2027 and 18 licenses in 2031.

   Other provisions would prohibit retailers from allowing customers to self-checkout and would allow only face-to-face checkout between a customer and a cashier; allow retailers to accept an out-of-state drivers’ license as proof of age of customers; and change the current system of calculating the fine that the state is allowed to accept instead of suspending a license because of a violation of the law. Current law bases the fine on the gross profits of the sale of alcoholic beverages. The ballot question would base the fine on the gross profits of all retail sales.

   The proposal is sponsored by the 21st Century Alcohol Retail Reform Committee. Chief opposition to the proposal is listed as the Food Stores for Consumer Choice.

   “Locally owned and managed retailers of beer, wine and spirits from across the state are asking Massachusetts voters to vote ‘Yes’ on Question 3,” Rob Mellion, a spokesperson for the ‘Yes on 3’ campaign told Beacon Hill Roll Call. “Question 3 expands consumer convenience, supports tourism and strengthens public safety. Question 3 is a win-win for Massachusetts consumers because it responsibly expands off premises alcohol licenses in a way that also supports local businesses and the communities that they serve.”

  Mellion continued, “The campaign is going well. This has been a grass roots effort where local retailers from across the state are banding together in marshalling resources to educate voters on why Question 3 must pass. With their backs against the wall these small businesses are putting everything on the line because a ‘Yes’ vote helps to preserve the future of ‘Main Street’ Massachusetts.”

   The “No on 3” campaign did not respond to repeated requests by Beacon Hill Roll Call to answer questions about its campaign and published reports that the campaign has essentially disbanded its efforts to defeat Question 3. The link to the campaign’s website does not work and phone calls went to voicemail.

   Mellion told Beacon Hill Roll Call that the rumor that the opposition has disbanded is false. “The opposition are saying this to appear sympathetic but in reality, surrogates are using false advertising in television ads to make it appear that small businesses are against Question 3,” said Mellion. “Question 3 was filed by locally owned stores across the state. The ads currently airing on multiple stations were produced by Massachusetts Fine Wine and Spirits, LLC, which is the legal name in Massachusetts for Total Wine. There is nothing small business about these ads which are intended to mislead voters … Needless to say, this is a David v. Goliath contest where local stores are fighting for their existence. The big money from the mostly out-of-state headquartered opposition is coming.”

   Here are the official arguments of the supporters and opponents as they appear in the Redbook—the book, distributed by the Secretary of State to households across the state, which provides Information to voters on ballot questions.


Written by Rob Mellion

21st Century Alcohol Retail Reform Committee


   “A ‘Yes’ vote fulfills consumer desire for expanded convenience in a reasonable and balanced manner that also protects against illegal sales.

   A ‘Yes’ vote expands convenience by gradually increasing the total number of alcoholic beverage licenses that any person or company can own. Package stores, convenience stores, supermarkets, superstore retailers, and others will be able to apply for additional licenses for their existing locations that do not currently sell alcohol and for new locations they open.

A ‘Yes’ vote simultaneously enhances public safety and encourages vigilance by retailers through prohibiting self-checkout of alcohol beverages and basing the fine for selling to a minor on a store’s total sales and not just its alcohol sales.

A ‘Yes’ vote also supports state tourism and brings Massachusetts in line with every other state in the country by allowing for valid out of state IDs to be relied upon by alcohol beverage retailers.”


The name of the author is not revealed

Food Stores for Consumer Choice

www.FoodStoresMA.org (as noted earlier, the link to this website does not work).

   “Our alcohol licensing laws do need serious reforms, but this ballot measure is not the answer. It offers an incomplete solution to a complex problem, doing little to promote competition or expand consumer choice.

   Despite some superficially popular provisions designed to entice voters, it fails to lift outdated restrictions on local decision-making, while in fact moving Massachusetts backwards in several significant ways: imposing unfair penalties against retailers who sell more than just alcohol, like grocers and other food stores; outlawing convenient and reliable point-of-sale technologies already in widespread use by retailers across the state; and decreasing the number of full liquor licenses that retailers can own.

  This flawed approach favors special interests in the alcohol industry, at the expense of cash-strapped consumers and their favorite local retailers.

We deserve more. Vote ‘No’ on this question, and instead ask your state lawmakers to support comprehensive legislation that will actually make a difference.”


   CHANGE DISTRIBUTION FORMULA FOR $2.9 BILLION IN TAX RELIEF (HD 5394) – Rep. Mike Connolly (D-Cambridge) has filed a bill that would change the formula for how $2.9 billion in tax refunds will be distributed to taxpayers based on Chapter 62F, a 1986 law approved by the voters. That law requires that tax revenue above a certain amount collected by the state go back to the taxpayers on a proportional basis equal to the amount of state income tax they paid the state in 2021. Auditor Suzanne Bump has determined that the net state tax revenues of $41,812,654,358 for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2022 is $2,941,499,731 above the allowable state tax revenues of $38,871,154,627.

   Connolly’s measure would establish a $6,500 limit on the maximum tax credit an individual taxpayer in Massachusetts can receive under the mandatory refund law.

   Gov. Charlie Baker’s office has estimated that individuals’ refunds will total about 13 percent of how much a taxpayer paid to Massachusetts in personal income tax in 2021. MassBudget says that the average millionaire will get a refund check of an estimated $22,000, while the average low-income worker will receive a mere $9.

  “In this time of soaring inflation and economic hardship for so many of our constituents, the goal of this bill is to limit Chapter 62F tax credits for those with million-dollar incomes and then redistribute the resulting excess to taxpayers who have incomes under one million dollars,” said Connolly. “Under our proposal, 99.4 percent of Ch. 62F refund recipients would see an additional $200 included in their refund checks next month. That’s why I’ve dubbed the bill ‘Putting More Money In More People’s Pockets.’ The fastest way to get this bill approved would be to include its concepts in the pending economic development bill or the closeout supplemental budget. For my part, I am advocating for a return to formal sessions if necessary because we understand many residents are being crushed by the rising cost of living and these bills could offer some additional relief.”

  Co-sponsor Rep. Jamie Belsito (D-Topsfield) said, “When I am at home talking with my mother who lives in senior housing, and she’s telling me that her friends in her housing complex can’t even buy food that they normally could have bought six to 12 months ago because of inflation—we’re not going to cut a $25,000 check for top earners in our state and turn around and say to our seniors, who are barely keeping it together, ‘here’s a $9 check for you.’”

  “CLT’s 1986 tax cap law can cynically be termed ‘flawed’ only by an avowed member of the Democratic Socialists of America like state Rep. Mike Connolly,” said Chip Ford, executive director of Citizens for Limited Taxation who called the measure absurd and dubbed it as “Revenge of the Socialists.”

   “The law as drafted and adopted was specifically intended as a tax refund of excess revenue in proportion to that which was extracted from each taxpayer. The more you paid into the state treasury the larger in dollars your refund would be … CLT’s tax cap refund was never considered, never mind intended, to be nor become a revenue redistribution scheme. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines ‘refund’ as: 1: the act of refunding; 2: a sum refunded. Words it lists as synonymous to refund are ‘reimburse’ or ‘repay.’ It is and has always intended to be a proportional refund of excess revenue to those who paid it.”

   “The voters in 1986 sent a clear message to Statehouse politicians that when the state collects too much money from its taxpayers, the state is obligated to refund the money collected from each taxpayer in a fair and even amount,” said Paul Craney, a spokesperson for the Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance. “Despite this clear message, our modern-day left-wing politicians want to break with the will of the voters so they can redistribute the money the way they see fit. The same politicians who are promising the 80 percent income tax hike will be spent on transportation and education are attempting to subvert the will of the voters who passed the 1986 rebate law. It’s deceptive and dishonest and the public needs to be weary. The contradiction could not be any clearer. Don’t trust these politicians.”

RIGHT WHALE DAY (H 3869) – The House approved and sent to the Senate a bill that would establish an annual Right Whale Day in Massachusetts on April 24.

   “I filed this bill on behalf of a constituent from Pembroke, Matt Delaney, who had a special encounter with a right whale while visiting Cape Cod with his family a number of years ago,” said sponsor Rep. Josh Cutler (D-Pembroke). “Matt wanted to do something to help promote the preservation of this critically endangered species and so we filed this bill together.”

   The story was told by Rob Moir, President and executive director of Ocean River Institute in Commonwealth Magazine. Moir wrote:

   “Ramona Delaney’s 93-year-old grandmother died peacefully on a Tuesday in April. The funeral service was held on Friday. On Saturday, Ramona, with husband Matt Delaney and 14-year-old daughter Katrina, purchased an over-sand permit for their jeep and drove out through the sand dunes of Race Point at the northernmost tip of Cape Cod. A ripple in the seawater quite close-by drew their attention. Suddenly, an enormous black head rose up. Gazing their way was a huge eye the size of a softball. The right whale wheeled forward and disappeared beneath the waves. Later, a right whale breached. Its entire body came out of the water and, rotating, it splashed down on its backside sending up great curtains of spray. The right whale breached many times over the course of about an hour.”

   The Delaney family all felt this incredible, yet intimate, encounter was a sign that Ramona’s grandmother was okay. They found the solace they were seeking when the spirit of life shined brightly in a majestic right whale on that day, April 24, 2004. The Delaney family has celebrated April 24 as whale day ever since and asked that this special day become a time when everyone in the Commonwealth can cherish North Atlantic right whales.”

REVENUE COMMITTEE BILLS SENT TO A STUDY COMMITTEE – Several bills affecting the state’s tax policies were sent to a study committee where bills are rarely actually studied and are essentially defeated. It is a way to kill a proposal without holding a vote on the bill itself. Here are some of the revenue bills that were sent off to a study committee:

   TAX EXEMPTIONS FOR DISABLED VETERANS (S 1934) – Would create property tax exemptions for the primary homes of veterans who are disabled as a result of their service. The state would reimburse cities and towns for this exemption.

    “In my mind, helping disabled veterans is never a question,” said sponsor Sen. Mike Moore (D-Millbury). “Many vets struggle financially and struggle to find full time employment, resulting in a disproportionately high rate of poverty and homelessness among this group. By creating a property tax exemption for disabled veterans’ homes, we can help support those who have sacrificed so much for our country. I am saddened that this legislation will not be moving forward this session—a decision will be made on whether I will refile this legislation before the start of the next session.”

    UP TO $250 TAX CREDIT FOR PURCHASE AND INSTALLATION OF PLANTS AND LANDSCAPING INTENDED TO REDUCE WATER USAGE (H 3058) – Would create a 25 percent personal income tax credit of up to $250, on the purchase and installation of plants and landscaping items intended to reduce water usage including drought resistant plants that last for more than one year; kits or devices specifically designed for generating compost; rainwater recovery and storage devices where they are used for watering plants; and underground drip irrigation systems.

  “The drought Massachusetts experienced this summer shows that we must prepare for greater weather extremes,” said sponsor Rep. Paul Schmid  (D-Westport) who plans to refile the bill next year. “We should be getting ahead of possible water shortages now.”

   FOUR MORE TAX REDUCTION BILLS – Sen. Patrick O’Connor (R-Weymouth) filed several bills that were shipped off to a study committee including:

S 1946: Allows a credit for childcare costs up to $3,000 per year. The childcare provider must be licensed in Massachusetts and the child must be a dependent of the taxpayer.

S 1947: Employers who hire veterans within 90 days of their honorable discharge receive a credit of $500 per month for 12 months for each full-time veteran, and $750 per month for 12 months for each disabled veteran. Each business gets $50,000 for these credits per business calendar year.

S 1948: Gives a $2,500 tax credit for a taxpayer who pays for more than half of the expenses of a relative over age 70 or of someone disabled by Alzheimer’s/dementia. The relative must have lived with the taxpayer for at least 6 months.

S.1950: Gives a credit of up to 20 percent to a maximum of $5,000 toward the cost of tuition for higher education. The credit will be allowed for the taxable year in which the tuition was billed.

“These pieces of legislation would have made a difference for those who need it the most right now in our commonwealth—our small businesses, those caring for elderly relatives, parents, veterans and students,” said O’Connor. “Although I am disappointed that these bills did not move further along in the legislative process this past session, I have hope that they can move forward next session upon re-filing.”


   “The ability to grant pardons is a very serious responsibility, but through careful consideration and review, I believe these individuals are worthy candidates for a pardon. All of these individuals have shown a commitment to their communities and rehabilitation since their convictions. However, the charges are related to decades-old convictions that continue to have an impact on their lives. I look forward to the Governor’s Council’s review of these recommendations.”

   —Gov. Charlie Baker upon pardoning these men for their crimes: Kenneth Dunn (1971 larceny), Steven Joanis (1990 assault and battery by means of a dangerous weapon, Stephen Polignone (1980 larceny and altering a motor vehicle license/registration) and Michael Picanso (1986 trespassing, larceny and wanton destruction of property). These pardons are the first four in Baker’s eight years as governor.

   “The solution to the problem of unfunded mandates is to prioritize funding of them. It is a simple solution, but it may require some hard choices.”

   —Auditor Suzanne Bump on a new report that identifies a $1.26 billion shortfall between actual municipal spending on existing programs that are mandated by the state and actual funding of the programs by the state.

   “For a long time, folks have been made to feel helpless and are made to feel like they don’t have a voice or their voice isn’t being listened to. So we want to ensure that the neighbors and the residents living down the road from the landfill or the powerplant that is harming their children, that they are the ones who get to decide what happens.”

   — Mireille Bejjani, co-executive director of  a new environmental health and justice organization, Slingshot, with a goal to hold polluters responsible.

   “Anyone in Massachusetts who wants to expunge their record appropriately can do so now under existing state law. Pardon process is a complicated one. It doesn’t happen overnight. I think at this point the fastest, easiest and quickest way for somebody to deal with an issue around simple possession would be to just pursue the expungement process. It’s why it’s there.”

   —Gov. Charlie Baker supporting expunging criminal records for simple marijuana possession rather than pardons like President Joe Biden recently recommended.

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 10-14, the House met for a total of 21 minutes and the Senate met for a total of 25 minutes.

Mon.   Oct. 10   No House session

                 No Senate session

Tues.  Oct. 11   House  11:02 a.m. to  11:11 a.m.

                 Senate 11:11 a.m. to  11:23 a.m.

Wed.   Oct. 12   No House session

                 No Senate session

Thurs. Oct. 13   House  11:01 a.m. to  11:13 a.m.

                 Senate 11:02 a.m. to  11:15 a.m.

Fri.   Oct. 14   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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