Volume 41-Report No. 33 • August 15-19, 2016
Copyright © 2016 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. Timothy Toomey
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 senators’ and representatives’ votes on roll calls from July sessions.

REDUCE FUNDING FOR EARLY INTERVENTION PROGRAM BY $150,000 (H 4450)
House 136-18, Senate 39-0, overrode Gov. Charlie Baker’s veto of $150,000 (from $28,550,167 to $28,400,167) in funding for the early intervention program. The program provides early intervention for families of children up to three years of age who have developmental difficulties because of health or environmental conditions.

Override supporters said the reduced funding would hurt this vital program that assists these children at an early age and helps them grow and attain the skills to increase their development. They noted that the program serves the child and family in their natural environments, including family homes, child care centers and community play groups in order to improve development by encouraging the child’s participation in everyday activities.

In his veto message, Gov. Charlie Baker said that he vetoed the funding because it was not consistent with the original budget he filed.

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

Rep. Christine Barber     Yes
Rep. Denise Provost        Yes
Rep. Timothy Toomey    Yes
Sen. Patricia Jehlen        Yes

ELIMINATE ENTIRE $400,000 FOR SUICIDE PREVENTION (H 4450)
House 138-15, Senate 38-1, overrode Gov. Baker’s veto of the entire $400,000 in funding for the non-profit Samaritans organization for suicide prevention, including their 24-hour hotline.

Override supporters said this funding is essential to help with this important battle against a major public health problem. They noted that suicide results in an average of 500 deaths annually.

In his veto message, the governor said that he vetoed the funding because it was not consistent with the original budget he filed.

(A “Yes” vote is for spending the $400,000. A “No” vote is against spending it.)

Rep. Christine Barber     Yes
Rep. Denise Provost        Yes
Rep. Timothy Toomey    Yes
Sen. Patricia Jehlen        Yes

REDUCE FUNDING FOR WAGE ENFORCEMENT BY $37,574 (H 4450)
House 119-34, Senate 34-5, overrode Gov. Charlie Baker’s veto of $37,574 (from $ $3,757,371 to $3,719,797) in funding for the attorney general’s office to enforce the state’s wage laws including violations of overtime pay and the state’s current $10 per hour minimum wage law.

Override supporters said it is important to working families to fully fund this enforcement. They noted the attorney general has the power to criminally prosecute or issue civil citations to employers who violate wage laws.

In his veto message, the governor said that he reduced this funding to the amount projected to be necessary.

(A “Yes” vote is for spending the $37,574. A “No” vote is against it.)

Rep. Christine Barber     Yes
Rep. Denise Provost        Yes
Rep. Timothy Toomey    Yes
Sen. Patricia Jehlen        Yes

STOP HUMAN TRAFFICKING (S 2444)
Senate 40-0, approved and sent to the House a bill to strengthen the state’s anti-human trafficking laws and help put a stop to victims who are forced into the commercial sex trade or involuntary labor.

Provisions increase from three years to ten years the time victims are allowed to file a civil suit against a trafficker; allow victims who committed non-felony crimes as a result of being trafficked to petition the court to vacate these convictions; mandate training for law enforcement, health professional and teachers to recognize the signs that someone is a victim of this heinous crime; and a public awareness campaign with signs posted in high-risk locations such as adult entertainment facilities and foreign cash transfers outlets.

Supporters said this version of modern day slavery that affects mostly women and children must be combatted and eliminated. They noted the bill expands and toughens a 2011 law by cracking down even further on loathsome people who sell human beings. They noted the measure also provides significant tools and opportunities for victims to help restore their lives.

(A “Yes” vote is for the bill.)

Sen. Patricia Jehlen    Yes

USE FINES TO FUND TRAINING TO IDENTIFY HUMAN TRAFFICKING VICTIMS (S 2444)
Senate 39-0, approved an amendment that would help fund the training of law enforcement, health professionals and teachers to recognize the signs and help identify victims of human trafficking. The funds would come from a portion of the $900 per person fee currently paid by some defendants who are first-time offenders and are allowed by the courts to participate in the first offender commercial sexual exploitation prevention program, instead of going to prison.

The program provides each participant with information, counseling and services about the negative impact sex trafficking has on victims, the health risks involved including the risk of sexually transmitted diseases and issues relating to mental health, substance abuse and sexual addiction.

Amendment supporters said these training programs help police officers, health professionals and teachers discover innocent victims so they can be rescued and get their lives back.

(A “Yes” vote is for the amendment.)

Sen. Patricia Jehlen    Yes

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ALSO UP ON BEACON HILL

Gov. Baker recently signed into law several bills sent to him by the House and Senate including:

MEDICAL ASSISTANTS CAN GIVE FLU SHOTS (H 3895) –  Allows certified medical assistants who work in a doctor’s office to give flu and other immunization shots to patients. A certified medical technician is an individual who is a graduate of a post-secondary medical assisting education and performs basic administrative, clerical and clinical duties under the direct supervision of a doctor.

Supporters say this will free up the time of doctors and nurses so they can work on more urgent medical issues.

BULLYING OF TENANTS IN PUBLIC HOUSING (S 1984) – Creates a special commission to study the prevalence and impact of the bullying of tenants, with a focus on elderly and disabled tenants, in public and subsidized multi-family housing. The commission is required to hold public hearings across the state and by December 31, 2006, come up with its findings and recommendations.

Supporters say bullying in public housing has become a big problem and must be addressed.

REQUIRE INSURERS TO COVER LIPODYSTROPHY (S 2137) – Requires insurance companies to provide coverage for the treatment of lipodystrophy, a medical condition that can cause abnormal fat accumulation around the head and neck or excessive fat loss in the face and limbs. Lipodystrophy is associated with frequent injections at the same point on the body, such as injections of insulin, and it can be a side effect of the antiretroviral drugs used to treat HIV.

Supporters say this requirement would help improve the lives of many people afflicted with the condition. They argued that fat accumulation from lipodystrophy sometimes causes serious head and neck pain, the inability to sleep and posture issues. They noted that excessive fat loss can result in “facial wasting,” a clear sign to others that an individual has HIV. They said that many insurance companies currently deny coverage for this treatment and that some falsely describe the treatment as cosmetic surgery.

NEWSPAPERS MUST PUBLISH PUBLIC NOTICES ONLINE (S 2428) – Requires newspapers that are paid to publish official state and local public notices in the paper’s print edition to also include them on the paper’s website at no additional cost. The measure also requires the papers to include the notices, at no extra charge, on a new statewide website, created and operated by a joint venture of Massachusetts newspapers.

Supporters say that readership of print copies of newspapers is way down and public notices in these papers are no longer seen by the majority of people.

ALLOW MORE CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTIONS (H 542) – Allows donors to contribute the maximum $1,000 twice per year to a candidate who runs for the Legislature in a special election and a regular election in the same year. Current law only allows donors to give a maximum of $1,000 in any calendar year.

Supporters say it is unfair to a candidate who runs in a special election and then runs for re-election in the same year but is limited to $1,000 per donor for the entire year. They argued current law gives an advantage to some candidates who are only running in the second election.

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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 August 15-19, the House met for a total of 22 minutes while the Senate met for a total of one hour and eight minutes.

Mon. August 15
House 10:59 a.m. to 11:11 a.m.
Senate 11:14 a.m. to 11:24 a.m.

Tues. August 16
No House session
No Senate session

Wed. August 17
No House session
No Senate session

Thurs. August 18
House 11:05 a.m. to 11:15 a.m.
Senate 11:01 a.m. to 11:59 a.m.

Fri. August 19
No House session
No Senate session

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Bob Katzen welcomes feedback at bob@beaconhillrollcall.com