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Beacon Hill Roll Call

Beacon Hill Roll Call urges you to read the next two roll calls carefully and be aware that the studies were proposed in place of the amendment, so a “yes” vote is for the study and essentially is against the amendment. Conversely, a “no” vote is against the study and generally favors the amendment.

INDEFINITELY DELAY ALLOWING LOWER TRAINING WAGES FOR FIRST 90 DAYS (H 3983)

House 119-30, indefinitely delayed an amendment that would allow employers to pay workers 25 percent less than the minimum wage for his or her first 90 days of employment. The delay would require the Patrick administration to study and report back to the Legislature on the impact the training wage would have on the state.

Amendment supporters said the minimum wage hike would discourage employers from hiring inexperienced teens under 18 to train for their first jobs. They said the amendment would give businesses more flexibility to hire those teens.

Amendment opponents said the reduced training wage is simply unfair and would apply to both teens and adults. They argued that unscrupulous employers might just continue hiring teens under 18 for 90 days, pay them the lower wage and then let them go.

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

Rep. Denise Andrews Didn’t Vote

Rep. Gailanne Cariddi Yes

Rep. Stephen Kulik Yes

Rep. Paul Mark Yes

INDEFINITELY DELAY EARNED INCOME TAX CREDIT (H 3983)

House 117-31, indefinitely delayed an amendment that would increase over four years the earned income tax credit for low-income working families with children living at home from 15 percent to 25 percent of the federal credit. The credit is applied toward the taxpayer’s liability, and if it exceeds the liability, the taxpayer receives the excess credit as a refund. The delay would require the Patrick administration to study and report back to the Legislature on the impact the amendment would have on the state.

Amendment supporters said this increased credit will help thousands of low-income working families who are struggling to make ends meet and will result in many of them paying little or no state income tax.

Amendment opponents said the increase would cost the state more than $100 million which it cannot afford.

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

Rep. Denise Andrews Didn’t Vote

Rep. Gailanne Cariddi Yes

Rep. Stephen Kulik Yes

Rep. Paul Mark Yes

Also up on Beacon Hill

TAX CREDIT FOR HOMEOWNERS (H 2627) — The House gave initial approval, on a voice vote without debate, to a bill making more homeowners eligible for a tax credit equal to the amount by which the taxpayer’s real estate tax payment or the rent constituting real estate tax payment on the person’s primary residence exceeds 10 per cent of the taxpayer’s total income.

The home cannot be assessed at more than $600,000 and the maximum credit is $750. In order to qualify, a taxpayer’s total income cannot exceed $40,000 for an individual and $60,000 for a couple. Currently, only taxpayers over 65 are eligible for this tax credit. The bill would repeal the age requirement and make all taxpayers who qualify financially eligible.

SUICIDE PREVENTION TRAINING (H 443) — The Education Committee approved a bill that would require all public school personnel to receive a minimum of two hours of suicide awareness and prevention training annually.

Supporters say that suicide is the third leading cause of death among youths between 10 and 19 years old. They note that there are often warning signs that training will help teachers pick up. They argue that suicide is often preventable and that this training will save many lives.

FINANCIAL LITERACY (S 234) — The Education Committee also gave a favorable report to a bill requiring the state to develop and allow cities and towns to institute a program to teach students financial literacy including understanding banking and financial services, loans, interest, credit card debt, online commerce, renting or buying a home, saving, investing and planning for retirement, balancing a checkbook, state and federal taxes and charitable giving.

ASSISTED SUICIDE (H 1998) — The Public Health Committee has recommended that a bill allowing physician-assisted suicide for the terminally ill be sent to a study committee. Voters defeated a similar measure on the 2012 ballot by a slim 51 percent to 49 percent margin. Most measures shipped off to a study committee are never actually studied and are essentially defeated.

OFFICIAL GROUNDHOG (H 2864) — The House approved and sent to the Senate a bill making Ms. G., the popular groundhog at the Massachusetts Audubon Society’s Drumlin Farm, the official groundhog of Massachusetts. Ms. G. is the Bay State counterpart to Pennsylvania’s Punxsutawney Phil. The measure also requires that the popular groundhog be used to educate elementary school children on the importance of meteorology.

The bill was filed by Rep. Alice Peisch, D-Wellesley, on behalf of elementary school students at the Hunnewell School in Wellesley. Many of these types of bills are filed by legislators on behalf of classes of students as part of an exercise for youngsters to learn about the legislative process.

STUDENT RIGHTS (H 3942) — The Higher Education Committee held a hearing on legislation that would require college officials to inform students of their right to call their parents and their right to have an attorney present in the event of a disciplinary hearing that may result in expulsion.

Copyright 2014 Beacon Hill Roll Call. All Rights Reserved.

Bob Katzen welcomes feedback at bob@beaconhillrollcall.com

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