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Beacon Hill Roll Call, Jan. 8 to Jan. 12, 2018



Beacon Hill Roll Call
Tuesday, January 16, 2018
THE HOUSE AND SENATE

There were no roll calls in the House and Senate last week. This week, Beacon Hill Roll Call reports on the number of times each representative sided with Gov. Charlie Baker on his 179 vetoes of items in the 2017 session.

A two-thirds vote is required to override a gubernatorial veto. In a full 160-member House, there were 125 Democrats and 35 Republicans. The governor needed the support of 54 representatives to sustain a veto when all 160 representatives voted — and fewer votes when some members were absent, or a seat was vacant.

It was mostly the 34 GOP members who voted with the Republican governor to sustain the vetoes. Minority Leader Brad Jones, R-North Reading, and Rep. James Lyons, R-Andover, both voted with Baker 100 percent of the time. The GOP member who supported Baker the least number of times was Rep. David Vieira, who sided with the governor only 83 times (68.5 percent).

The vetoes had little support among the 126 Democrats in the House. Only ten of the chamber’s 126 Democrats voted with Baker to sustain any vetoes while the other 116 did not support the governor even once. The Democratic representative who supported Baker the most times was Rep. Jonathan Zlotnik, D-Gardner, who supported him seven times (3.9 percent). The other nine representatives who supported the governor did so only on one veto each (less than 1 percent).

PERCENTAGE OF TIMES REPRESENTATIVES SUPPORTED GOV. BAKER ON VETOES — Here are how local representatives fared in their support of Gov. Baker on the 179 vetoes.

The percentage next to the representative’s name represents the percentage of times he or she supported Baker’s vetoes.

The number in parentheses represents the number of times he or she supported Baker’s vetoes.

Some members voted on all 179 roll call votes. Others missed one or more of the 179 votes. Each record is based on the number of roll calls on which a representative voted and does not count the roll calls for which he or she was absent.

Rep. Stephen Kulik, 0 percent (0)

Rep. Paul Mark, 0 percent (0)

Rep. Susannah Whipps, 17.9 percent (32)

ALSO UP ON BEACON HILL

“MOVE OVER” FOR UTILITY AND CONSTRUCTION VEHICLES (H 4244) — The House gave initial approval to a bill expanding the current “Move Over Law” to include public utility and construction vehicles. Current requires drivers to reduce their speed to that of a “reasonable and safe speed for road conditions” when they spot an emergency vehicle with flashing lights on the side of the highway. It currently applies only to fire trucks, police vehicles, ambulances, disaster vehicles and highway maintenance vehicles.

“This bill would expand the law to apply to utility and construction workers who are parked on the side of the road carrying out highway maintenance, so the law would no longer be limited to just law enforcement and first responders,” said Rep. Harold Naughton, D-Clinton, the bill’s sponsor. “Protecting the utility workforce involved in important public safety-related activities is an important part of improving the safety of work zones and the commonwealth as a whole.”

“Utility vehicles are on the streets doing important and hazardous work during times of emergency, and motorists should approach utility workers with caution just as they would a recovery or emergency response vehicle,” said Rep. Bill Straus, D-Mattapoisett, House chair of the Transportation Committee.

SECRETARY GALVIN ANNOUNCES DATE OF 2018 STATE PRIMARY ELECTION — Secretary of State Bill Galvin announced that the 2018 state primaries will be held on Tuesday, Sept. 4, instead of Tuesday, Sept. 18, the original date established by law. This year September 18 coincides with the important Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur. If there is a conflict with a religious holiday, state law requires Galvin to move the primary to a date within seven days of the second Tuesday in September, which this year is Sept.11. That gave Galvin a choice of the 15 days from Sept. 4 until Sept. 18 to hold the election.

A logical choice would be to hold the election the week before on Tuesday, Sept. 11, but that would create another problem because that date coincides with the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah. These circumstances led to Galvin choosing Sept. 4.

Galvin also will be proposing legislation to allow each city and town to hold five days of early voting prior to the state primaries. “Given the interest we are already seeing in the primaries and the successful implementation of early voting in the 2016 state election, I believe offering early voting for the state primaries would provide a greater opportunity for voter participation,” Galvin said.

The League of Women Voters of Massachusetts (LWVMA) said it is pleased that Galvin has embraced the league’s recommendation to extend early voting days to the primary. “We are disappointed in the timing of the primary, which is earlier than the dates LWVMA recommended,” said the league’s President Mary Ann Ashton. “Voting on the day after Labor Day will prove challenging for voters in the commonwealth, especially for families preparing children for the start of school, and for candidates who are eager to get their message out to voters.”

Boston City Councilor Josh Zakim, who is challenging Galvin for the Democratic nomination for secretary of state, was less kind.

“It is outrageous and unprecedented to schedule a statewide primary for the day after Labor Day, when people are just returning from their summer vacations and haven’t had time to focus on the upcoming election,” Zakim said.

When asked to respond to Zakim’s charges, Deb O’Malley, spokeswoman for Galvin said, “I have no comment on this.”

THE EFFECT OF THE FEDERAL TAX CHANGES ON THE BAY STATE — The Revenue Committee will hold a public hearing on Tuesday, Jan. 23 at 11 a.m. in the Gardner Auditorium at the Statehouse on the impact on Massachusetts and its taxpayers of the many recent changes in federal tax law approved by Congress and signed by President Trump. The committee will also hear testimony on identifying and exploring creative ways in which the state might respond to counteract any ill-effects of the federal changes.

Front and center will be the part of the new federal code that beginning in 2018 caps at $10,000 the deduction of state and local taxes for taxpayers who itemize. Prior to this, there was no limit to the amount of those taxes that could be deducted.

“As the federal tax law reform begins to take its effect on state and local revenues, it’s imperative we explore how this will affect Massachusetts residents,” said Sen. Michael Brady, D-Brockton, Senate chair of the Revenue Committee.

“The hearing is our chance to digest the impact of the massive federal tax cut and to explore appropriate actions we can or should take to protect the interests of the citizens, communities and commonwealth of Massachusetts,” said House Revenue Committee Chair, Rep. Jay Kaufman, D-Lexington.

NO MORE DEBIT CARDS FOR POT PURCHASES — Many of the Bay State’s 18 medical marijuana dispensaries have ceased to take debit cards and have become cash-only operations. The debit card companies that process payments for the dispensaries severed their relationship with the shops out of fear they could be prosecuted for their participation in the sale of marijuana.

This action was a result of U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts Andrew Lelling’s statement that he would not rule out prosecution of any of the many players in the state’s marijuana industry.