Volume 41-Report No. 32 • August 8-12, 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.

$1 BILLION ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT PACKAGE (H 4569)
House 157-0, Senate 38-1, approved and Gov. Charlie Baker signed into law a bill allowing the state to borrow money over five years as part of an economic development package aimed at boosting the economy, creating jobs, workforce development and infrastructure investment. The biggest ticket item is $500 million for the MassWorks infrastructure grant program which is promoted as one-stop shopping for cities and towns and other eligible public entities seeking public infrastructure funding to support economic development and job creation. Municipalities could use the money for a variety of things including housing construction, city and town center revitalization projects and mill redevelopment opportunities.

The bill also gives “angel investors” a state tax credit equal to 20 percent of the amount of the investment they make in a qualifying business. In order to qualify, the business must have its principal place of business in the Bay State, have at least 50 percent of its employees located in the business’s principal place of business, employ 20 or fewer full-time employees and have gross revenues equal to or less than $500,000. The tax credit rises to 30 percent if the business is located in one of the state’s struggling cities, known as gateway cities.

Another key provision creates a new tax incentive to encourage families to put away money for higher education costs. Under the program, individual filers would get a $1,000 tax deduction for contributions to a prepaid tuition or college savings program, also known as a 529 plan. The deduction would increase to $2,000 for married couples.

Supporters say the package will stimulate the economy, help cities and towns and private companies, strengthen the manufacturing sector, create new housing, make some repairs to the infrastructure and provide the training and equipment for workforce development.

Opponents say the bill gives autocratic powers to individuals in the Executive branch to unilaterally make large tax expenditures and make decisions to transfer public funds to private businesses unreviewable by any court or administrative agency. They said there is no evidence that making payments to private companies actually brings about real economic growth.

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

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

MODERNIZING LOCAL GOVERNMENT (H 4565)
House 158-0, Senate 39-0, approved and Gov. Baker signed into law a bill aimed at modernizing municipal finance and government. The bill updates or outright repeals several archaic laws and creates a new law allowing communities to issue driver citations electronically. Many provisions in the bill are technical and Baker called the measure “a great example of some true weed whacking of outdated, clunky laws that will empower our municipalities and support good-governing at the local level across the Commonwealth.”

Supporters say the measure is designed to eliminate or update obsolete laws, promote local independence, streamline state oversight and generally provide municipalities with greater flexibility. The measure is supported by the Massachusetts Municipal Association, an entity that lobbies for the state’s cities and towns.

Upon signing the bill, the governor said, “As two former local officials ourselves, the Lieutenant Governor and I have a true appreciation for the independence and flexibility created by this commonsense bill, allowing municipal officials to better serve all of our constituents and create stronger communities in all of our 351 cities and towns.”

(A “Yes” vote is for the bill.)

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

REDUCE HOUSE’S OPERATION BUDGET BY $402,776 (H 4450)
House 118-35, Senate 37-2, overrode the governor’s veto of $402,776 (from $40,277,604 to 39,874,828) in funding for the operation of the House of Representatives.

(A “Yes” vote is for spending the $402,776. A “No” vote is against it.)

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

REDUCE SENATE’S OPERATION BUDGET BY $196,946 (H 4450)
House 117-36, Senate 39-0, overrode the governor’s veto of $196,946 (from $19,694,608 to 19,497,662) in funding for the operation of the Senate.

(A “Yes” vote is for spending the $196,946. A “No” vote is against it.)

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

ENERGY (H 4568)
House approved 157-1, Senate approved on a voice vote without a roll call and Gov. Baker signed into law a bill that requires utilities to competitively solicit and contract for 1,200 megawatts of clean energy generation including onshore wind and solar supported by hydropower and standalone onshore wind and solar. It also allows the procurement of 1,600 megawatts of offshore wind. The bill establishes a commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program that will enable commercial and industrial property owners across the state to finance comprehensive energy efficiency and renewable energy upgrades that are repaid through a property tax assessment on their building.

Supporters say the bill provides power without pollution and will diversify the state’s energy portfolio and replace some of the power the state will be losing from dirtier sources that will eventually be shut down. They noted that the offshore wind requirements will enhance a new industry in Massachusetts, help the economy and create jobs.

Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton said, “The ability to procure clean hydroelectric power and off-shore wind is another important milestone in the Commonwealth’s transition to a diversified energy portfolio.” He continued, “By embracing renewable energy generation technologies, the Baker-Polito Administration continues to make progress in achieving the emissions reductions targets set forth by the Global Warming Solutions Act.”

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

Rep. Christine Barber     Yes
Rep. Denise Provost        Yes
Rep. Timothy Toomey    Yes

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ALSO UP ON BEACON HILL

CONDEMN FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATION – The House approved resolutions condemning the practice of female genital mutilation and all other gender-based violence. The resolutions were approved on a voice vote without a roll call vote.

Supporters say that 6,000 women and girls around the world are subjected to genital mutilation annually and that 135 million have been the victims of this barbaric act. They argued that more than 4,000,000 women per year are physically abused by their husbands or domestic partners.

They note the procedure has no health benefits for women and girls and in fact can cause all kinds of health problems including bleeding, urinary problems and complications in childbirth sometimes leading to the death of the child. There are 74 co-sponsors of the resolutions including 17 senators and 57 representatives.

The Judiciary Committee gave a favorable report to a separate bill (S 2279) making it a crime to perform female genital mutilation. The Senate, however, sent the bill off to a study committee in June. Most measures that are shipped off to a study committee are never actually studied and are essentially defeated.

PREVENT ANIMAL SUFFERING AND DEATH (S 2369) – The House and Senate gave final approval to and sent to Gov. Baker a proposal that would prohibit leaving a dog outdoors during harsh weather conditions and from being chained or tethered outside for more than five hours per day or between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. for more than 15 minutes. Violations under the tethering law include penalties of up to $500 or relinquishment of ownership of the dog.

The measure also prohibits persons from leaving their pet in a car when high or low temperatures could endanger the animal’s health and safety. Violators would be hit with up to a $150 fine for a first offense, $300 for a second offense and $500 for any subsequent offense.  It also allows law enforcement officers and ordinary citizen, after making reasonable efforts to locate the motor vehicle’s owner, to enter a motor vehicle by any reasonable means to protect the health and safety of an animal.

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 8-12, the House met for a total of 45 minutes while the Senate met for a total of 16 minutes.

Mon. August 8
House 11:03 a.m. to 11:33 a.m.
Senate 11:03 a.m. to 11:11 a.m.

Tues. August 9
No House session
No Senate session

Wed. August 10
No House session
No Senate session

Thurs. August 11
House 11:04 a.m. to 11:19 a.m.
Senate 11:13 a.m. to 11:21 a.m.

Fri. August 12
No House session
No Senate session

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Bob Katzen welcomes feedback at bob@beaconhillrollcall.com