Volume 42-Report No. 40 • October 2-6, 2017
Copyright © 2017 Beacon Hill Roll Call. All Rights Reserved. By Bob Katzen
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Our Legislators in the House and Senate for Somerville:

barber_webRep. Christine Barber
DISTRICT REPRESENTED: Thirty-fourth Middlesex. – Consisting of all precincts in wards 4 and 5, precinct 1 of ward 7, and precinct 2 of ward 8, of the city of Medford, precincts 1 and 2 of ward 4, and all precincts of ward 7, of the city of Somerville, both in the county of Middlesex.

Rep. Denise Provost
DISTRICT REPRESENTED: Twenty-seventh Middlesex. – Consisting of precinct 3 of ward 2, all precincts of ward 3, precinct 3 of ward 4, and all precincts of wards 5 and 6, of the city of Somerville, in the county of Middlesex.

Rep. Mike Connolly
DISTRICT REPRESENTED: Twenty-sixth Middlesex. – Consisting of all precincts of ward 1, precinct 1 of ward 2, precincts 1 and 2 of ward 3, and precinct 1 of ward 6, of the city of Cambridge, and all precincts of ward 1 and precincts 1 and 2 of ward 2, of the city of Somerville, both in the county of Middlesex.

Sen. Patricia Jehlen
DISTRICT REPRESENTED: Second Middlesex. – Consisting of the cities of Cambridge, wards 9 to 11, inclusive, Medford and Somerville, and the town of Winchester, precincts 4 to 7, inclusive, in the county of Middlesex.

THE HOUSE AND SENATE: Beacon Hill Roll Call records local representatives’ and senators’ votes on several of the roll calls on overriding some of Gov. Charlie Baker’s cuts of $320 million in spending in the $39.4 billion fiscal 2018 state budget. A two-thirds vote in both branches is needed for a veto to be overridden. The House has restored the entire $320 million and the Senate has restored $39.8 million and is expected to override many other vetoes in the coming weeks.

House and Senate Democratic leaders say the budget is balanced and that it was necessary and fiscally responsible to override Baker’s cuts that would hurt many people including the sick, seniors, children and minorities.

The governor and GOP leaders question if the state can afford to restore this funding. Some Republicans said that because of this uncertainty they voted to sustain all of Gov. Baker’s vetoes, even though it meant voting against restoring funding for many good programs they would otherwise have supported.

CUT $302,500 FOR TOBACCO TASK FORCE (H 3800)
House 125-28, overrode a reduction of $150,000 for programs for the promotion of health and disease prevention including prevention of breast cancer, hepatitis C and colorectal cancer; and screening for prostate cancer, diabetes, ovarian cancer, multiple sclerosis and osteoporosis. The $150,000 is not earmarked for any specific program.

The governor also vetoed another $400,000 for specific programs including $100,000 for macular degeneration research into prevention and treatment of the disease; $100,000 for providing medically tailored meals to persons battling chronic illnesses and providing workforce training programs to people recovering from addiction; $25,000 for a diabetes prevention program; $25,000 for a program that provides peer support and education, home independence training and adaptive aids to people who are learning to cope and function safely and independently with the loss of sight; and $100,000 for research to provide solid scientific evidence for the cranberry’s role in health and nutrition.

(A “Yes” vote is for funding the $550,000. A “No” vote is against funding it.)

Rep. Christine Barber   Yes
Rep. Mike Connolly      Yes
Rep. Denise Provost     Yes

CUT $300,000 FOR SNAP (H 3800)
House 125-27, Senate 37-0, overrode a reduction of $300,000 (from $600,000 to $300,000) for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also known as food stamps. The state’s website describes SNAP as “providing a monthly benefit to buy nutritious foods. To receive SNAP, you must be low income and be a U.S. citizen or legal non-citizen. Eligibility for SNAP benefits depends on financial and non-financial criteria.”

(A “Yes” vote is for funding the $300,000. A “No” vote is against funding it.)

Rep. Christine Barber    Yes
Rep. Mike Connolly       Yes
Rep. Denise Provost      Didn’t Vote
Sen. Patricia Jehlen      Yes

CUT $6.6 MILLION FOR TRANSITIONAL ASSISTANCE (H 3800)
House 132-20, Senate 35-2, overrode a reduction of $6.6 million (from $162.8 million to $156.2 million) for the Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) Program. The vote also overrode Gov. Baker’s reduction from $300 to $250 in the annual clothing allowance for the children in these families.

(A “Yes” vote is for funding the $6.6 million. A “No” vote is against funding it.)

Rep. Christine Barber    Yes
Rep. Mike Connolly       Yes
Rep. Denise Provost      Didn’t Vote
Sen. Patricia Jehlen      Yes
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CUT $122,274 FOR PRISONER’S LEGAL SERVICES (H 3800)
House 117-35, overrode a reduction of $122,274 (from $1,609,465 to $1,487,191) in funding for Prisoners’ Legal Services, a program that provides legal representation for indigent and disadvantaged defendants.

(A “Yes” vote is for funding the $122,274. A “No” vote is against funding it.)

Rep. Christine Barber    Yes
Rep. Mike Connolly       Yes
Rep. Denise Provost      Didn’t Vote

CUT ENTIRE $150,000 FOR JOB TRAINING FOR YOUNG ADULTS WITH DISABILITIES (H 3800)
House 136-16, overrode the veto of the entire $150,000 for an employment training program for unemployed young adults with disabilities.

(A “Yes” vote is for funding the $150,000. A “No” vote is against funding it.)

Rep. Christine Barber    Yes
Rep. Mike Connolly       Yes
Rep. Denise Provost.     Didn’t Vote

CUT $303,734 FOR CHELSEA SOLDIERS’ HOME (H 3800)
Senate 37-0, overrode a reduction of $303,734 (from $27,210,690 to 26,906,956) in funding for the maintenance and operation of the Chelsea Soldier’s Home, a Bay State VA Hospital serving veterans.

(A “Yes” vote is for funding the $303,734. A “No” vote is against funding it.)

Sen. Patricia Jehlen    Yes

CUT ENTIRE $50,000 FOR POST-PARTUM DEPRESSION (H 3800)
Senate 37-0, overrode the veto of the entire $50,000 for a post-partum depression pilot program.

(A “Yes” vote is for funding the $50,000. A “No” is against funding it.)

Sen. Patricia Jehlen    Yes

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ALSO UP ON BEACON HILL

PROTECT STATE AND LOCAL PUBLIC EMPLOYEES (S 2167) – The Senate approved and sent to the House a bill that provides all state and municipal workers with the same protections provided to private workers under the federal Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA).

Supporters said an average of 28 municipal workers per week suffer injuries serious enough to be out of work for five days or more. They noted this protection would cover hundreds of thousands of state and local public workers who perform jobs that are sometimes just as dangerous as private sector ones.

CONSUMER LEGISLATION HEARD LAST WEEK – The Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure Committee held a hearing on several bills including:

POSTING GAS PRICES (H 166) – Requires gas stations which post large signs with the price of gasoline to include both the price if paid by credit card and the price if paid by cash. The prices must be in the same size lettering.

Supporters said some stations are very misleading because they post only the cash price. They note it’s not until consumers pull onto the property and up to the pump that they see two sets of pricing per gallon – based on paying with cash or credit card, with up to a 10-cent-per-gallon differential.

BANKS MUST PAY LATE FEES (H 504) – Requires a bank to pay the late fees if it neglects to conduct an electronic transfer for a customer who is later charged a late fee by the intended recipient of the transfer.

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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 2-6, the House met for a total of five hours and 13 minutes and Senate met for a total of two hours and 52 minutes.

Mon. October 2
House 11:04 a.m. to 11:12 a.m.
Senate 11:06 a.m. to 11:16 a.m.

Tues. October 3
No House session
No Senate session

Wed. October 4
House 11:01 a.m. to 3:58 p.m.
Senate 1:07 p.m. to 3:37 p.m.

Thurs. October 5
House 2:00 p.m. to 2:08 p.m.
Senate 11:04 a.m. to 11:16 a.m.

Fri. October 6
No House session
No Senate session

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Bob Katzen welcomes feedback at bob@beaconhillrollcall.com