Volume 42-Report No. 36 • September 4-8, 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: There were no roll calls in the House or Senate last week.

This week, Beacon Hill Roll Call looks at the handful of major legislation that was approved by the Legislature and signed into law so far by Gov. Charlie Baker in 2017.

In the first eight months of the 2017 session, only 79 bills out of more than 6,000 filed have been approved by the House and Senate and signed into law by Gov. Charlie Baker.

Thirty-five of those were local bills dealing with an individual city or town and 29 were on sick leave banks for individual state workers. Sick leave banks allow employees to voluntarily donate sick, personal or vacation days to a pool for use by ill fellow state workers so they can get paid while on medical leave.

Of the 15 remaining, 10 ranged from supplemental budgets and extending simulcast racing to designating May as Seatbelt Awareness Month and the first week in August as Ice Bucket Challenge week.

The remaining five are five major key issues that came to a roll call vote in both branches and were signed into law by Gov. Baker.

Here are a few:

$200 MILLION FOR LOCAL ROADS AND BRIDGES (H 3648)
House 159-0, Senate 36-0, approved and on May 4 Gov. Baker signed into law a bill authorizing $200 million in one-time funding for the maintenance and repair of local roads and bridges in cities and towns across the state. The package is a bond bill under which the funding would be borrowed by the state through the sale of bonds.

The measure also authorizes $70 million for the completion of the ATLAS, the Registry of Motor Vehicles’ technology system that will replace an archaic system that is 30 years old and difficult to maintain and use.

(A “Yes” vote is for the bill.)

Rep. Christine Barber    Yes
Rep. Mike Connolly       Yes
Rep. Denise Provost      Yes
Sen. Patricia Jehlen      Yes

$40.2 BILLION FISCAL 2018 STATE BUDGET (H 3800)
House 140-9, Senate 36-2, approved and on July 11 Gov. Baker signed into law a conference committee version of a $40.2 billion fiscal 2018 state budget to cover state spending from July 1, 2017 to June 30, 2018. The governor vetoed $320.3 million in spending. The Legislature has yet to override any of the vetoes.

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

Rep. Christine Barber    Yes
Rep. Mike Connolly       Yes
Rep. Denise Provost      Yes
Sen. Patricia Jehlen      Yes

FAIRNESS FOR PREGNANT WORKERS (H 3816)
House 150-0, Senate 38-0, approved and on July 27 Gov. Baker signed into law the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act that prohibits an employer from discriminating against, refusing to employ or firing a woman because she is pregnant or has a condition related to pregnancy.
The measure guarantees reasonable accommodations and safety measures for pregnant mothers. Reasonable accommodations include time off to recover from childbirth; more frequent, longer paid or unpaid breaks; acquiring or modifying equipment or seating arrangements; and a private non-bathroom space for expressing breast milk — unless any of these would create an undue hardship on the employer.

(A “Yes” vote is for the bill.)

Rep. Christine Barber      Yes
Rep. Mike Connolly         Yes
Rep. Denise Provost        Yes
Sen. Patricia Jehlen         Yes

REGULATE MARIJUANA (H 3818)
House 136-11, Senate 32-6, approved and on July 28, Gov. Baker signed into law a bill changing some provisions and adding other provisions to the law, approved by voters on the 2016 ballot, legalizing the possession, growing and sale of marijuana.

The measure taxes all marijuana sales with a 10.75 percent excise tax, 6.25 percent state sales tax and a local option allowing cities and towns to impose an additional tax of up to 3 percent. In addition, any agreement between a retail marijuana establishment and a host community for the first five years may include a community impact fee of up to another 3 percent paid by the seller to the city or town to cover the costs imposed upon the municipality by the operation of the establishment. Medical marijuana remains tax-free.

If a city or town voted for the 2016 marijuana ballot question, the decision to prohibit or restrict marijuana establishments will be determined by a local city or town wide referendum. If a city or town voted against the ballot question, the decision would be made by the municipality’s governing body until December 2019 and then by a local city or town wide referendum.

Other key provisions of the new law include:

Allowing persons over 21 to give an ounce or less of marijuana to others; possess up to one ounce of marijuana outside their home and ten ounces in their home. Any quantity above one ounce in the home must be under lock and key.

Allowing each person to grow six plants per person in his or her home, with a maximum of 12 plants per household.

Prohibiting plants that can be visible by neighbors or from a public place and putting growing areas under lock and key.

Giving landlords the right to prohibit smoking or growing of marijuana on their properties.

Allowing advertising on TV, radio, billboard, print or the Internet only in markets where at least 85 percent of the audience is over 21.

Banning retail shops from being located near school zones.

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

Rep. Christine Barber    Yes
Rep. Mike Connolly       Yes
Rep. Denise Provost      Yes
Sen. Patricia Jehlen       Yes

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ALSO UP ON BEACON HILL

POSSIBLE 2018 BALLOT QUESTIONS – Sponsors of possible ballot questions for the November 2018 election got the news today from Attorney General Maura Healey about whether their proposal met the requirements outlined in the constitution and can proceed to the next step in the long process to get their proposed law or constitutional amendment on the ballot.

There were 28 initiative petitions filed and 21 of them proposing laws were given the green light by the attorney general. The next step is for supporters to gather 64,750 voter signatures by December 6, 2017. Their proposal would then be sent to the Legislature and if not approved by May 2, 2018, proponents must gather another 10,792 signatures by July 4, 2018, in order for the question to appear on the November 2018 ballot.

Among those certified were providing paid family and medical leave to Massachusetts workers; reducing the state’s sale tax from 6.25 percent to 4.5 percent while also establishing an annual sales tax holiday; prohibiting any state facilities from using electric shock therapy on individuals with a physical, intellectual or developmental disability; and increasing the minimum hourly wage to $12 in 2019, $13 in 2020, $14 in 2021 and $15 in 2022.

Seven of the 28 petitions filed got the thumbs down including ending all tolls on the state’s highways; requiring insurance coverage for holistic health care; and allowing law-abiding citizens to purchase small, buildable, city-owned vacant land at a fair market price.

Two proposals to amend the state’s constitution were also filed. The procedure for getting proposed constitutional amendments on the ballot is different than the one for getting a proposed law on the ballot. Sponsors must still gather 64,750 voter signatures by December 6, 2017. The proposal then goes before the Legislature and goes on the 2020 ballot only if approved by 25 percent (50 members) of the 2017-2018 Legislature and the 2019-2020 Legislature.

A complete list and summary of each of the petitions filed and whether they were certified can be found online by clicking on “Petitions Filed” at http://www.mass.gov/ago/government-resources/initiatives-and-other-ballot-questions/

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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 September 4-8, the House met for a total of 17 minutes while the Senate met for a total of 12 minutes.

Mon. Sept. 4
No House session
No Senate session

Tues. Sept. 5
House 11:02 a.m. to 11:06 a.m.
Senate 11:23 a.m. to 11:27 a.m.

Wed. Sept.
6 No House session
No Senate session

Thurs. Sept. 7
House 11:02 a.m. to 11:15 a.m.
Senate 11:18 a.m. to 11:26 a.m.

Fri. Sept. 8
No House session
No Senate session

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Bob Katzen welcomes feedback at bob@beaconhillrollcall.com