Beacon Hill Roll Call: Feb. 8 to Feb. 12, 2021

Published: 2/19/2021 3:01:58 PM

Beacon Hill Roll Call records senators’ votes on roll calls from the week of Feb. 8 to Feb. 12. There were no roll calls in the House last week.

All roll calls are on proposed amendments to the rules by which the Senate operates.

Senators proposed a total of 50 amendments to the rules. Only seven were approved while 43 were rejected. Sponsors and proponents of the defeated amendments said the amendments were needed to ensure more transparency and to make the rules fairer.

“The Senate did important work by passing a rules package with changes that will promote the vital values of diversity, transparency, safety and training,” said Sen. Joan Lovely, D-Salem, who headed the task of drafting new rules for the 2021 to 2022 session. “A majority of senators rejected inserting a third check-in to continue doing business at 10 p.m. in addition to the ones at 8 p.m. and midnight; mandating immediate anti-harassment and bystander intervention training because development of online trainings, given COVID-19, are still underway; setting standards for hearings in the Senate and joint rules because they are more appropriately included in the emergency rules; and tripling the representation of the minority party on the Redistricting Committee because we (already) passed (an) amendment doubling this representation. I am proud of the amendments that did pass that made an already strong package of rules even stronger.”

Require unanimous vote to go beyond midnight (S 10)

The Senate, 6 to 34, rejected an amendment that would require a unanimous vote for the Senate to continue any session beyond midnight. Current Senate rules require a two-thirds vote.

Amendment supporters said sessions after midnight when taxpayers are sleeping, and some members are barely awake, are irresponsible and should only be held if 100 percent of the senators agree there is a major emergency.

Amendment opponents said going beyond midnight is only done when there is a dire emergency. They said it is often impossible to get a unanimous vote on anything and argued it is not wise to give a single member the power to adjourn the Senate.

A “No” vote is against requiring a unanimous vote to go beyond midnight.

Sen. Joanne Comerford — No

Sen. Anne Gobi — No

Sen. Adam Hinds — No

Require two-thirds vote to go beyond 10 p.m. (S 10)

The Senate, 6 to 34, rejected an amendment that would require a two-thirds vote for the Senate to continue any session beyond 10 p.m. Current rules require a two-thirds vote to continue beyond 8 p.m. and a separate two-thirds vote to continue beyond midnight, but do not require any vote at all to continue from 10 p.m. to midnight.

Amendment supporters said this is another opportunity for members to control late-night sessions and make them as rare as possible.

Amendment opponents said the amendment goes too far and is unnecessary.

A “No” vote is against requiring a two-thirds vote to go beyond 10 p.m.

Sen. Joanne Comerford — No

Sen. Anne Gobi — No

Sen. Adam Hinds — No

Anti-harassment training (S 10)

The Senate, 10 to 29, rejected an amendment that would require all State House members, officers and staff, regardless of when they are hired, to receive anti-harassment and bystander intervention training within 90 days of beginning employment. The current rules require members, officers and staff who are employed at the beginning of the biennial session to receive the training within 90 days of the opening of the session, while employees hired after the first training must complete their training at the “next available training opportunity.”

Amendment supporters said “next available training opportunity” is vague, and could mean the training would not take place for many months or even a year. They said the amendment guarantees everyone gets the training during their first 90 days of employment.

Amendment opponents said the training was held in person pre-pandemic, but will soon be online. They said it is unclear when that will occur and argued it is too early to adjust this rule when it is not yet known whether the online sessions will be live or on video.

A “Yes” vote is for the amendment. A “No” vote is against it.

Sen. Joanne Comerford — No

Sen. Anne Gobi — Yes

Sen. Adam Hinds — No

Watch remote hearings (S 10)

The Senate, 6 to 33, rejected an amendment that would require any public hearing conducted remotely to use technology that allows people to view or listen to the hearing live on one or more publicly accessible platforms that allow people to tune in via computer and telephone.

Amendment supporters said it is important to have a standardized system and requirements in the regular, non-emergency Senate rules that ensure the public can access these hearings.

Amendment opponents said this amendment is already included in the emergency rules the Senate has adopted for use during the pandemic. They argued it is not necessary to put the requirement in the regular rules at the present time.

A “No” vote is against the amendment.

Sen. Joanne Comerford — No

Sen. Anne Gobi — No

Sen. Adam Hinds — No

Redistricting (S 10)

The Senate, 4 to 35, rejected an amendment requiring that the Redistricting Committee consist of six members — three from the majority party (currently the Democrats) and three from the minority party (currently the Republicans). Current rules provide for a seven-member commission with five Democrats and two Republicans.

Redistricting, performed every 10 years based on the federal census, is the process of drawing new congressional and state legislative district boundaries. It will be done this year based on the 2020 census.

“I filed (this) amendment to ensure that there is equal representation on the redistricting,” said amendment sponsor Sen. Ryan Fattman, R-Sutton. “This will guarantee that the redistricting process is a fair, bipartisan effort.”

Amendment opponents noted that the new rules already double the current number of minority party members on the committee from one to two. They said going further than that is not necessary and noted that all Senate committees have more majority members than minority members.

A “No” vote is against the amendment.

Sen. Joanne Comerford — No

Sen. Anne Gobi — No

Sen. Adam Hinds — No

72 hours’ notice (S 10)

The Senate, 5 to 34, rejected an amendment that would require senators to receive 72 hours’ notice before a bill is considered unless the three-day notice requirement is suspended by a unanimous vote, or a two-thirds vote in the event of an emergency. Current law only requires 24 hours’ notice and can be suspended for both an emergency and non-emergency by a two-thirds vote.

“We must be given sufficient time to review matters presented for consideration, to reach out and feel the pulse of our communities, to ascertain how proposed legislation may affect those we represent, to hear the concerns and reconcile them with support,” said amendment sponsor Sen. Diana DiZoglio, D-Methuen. “This amendment would increase transparency of the actions of the Senate and further better the performance of our jobs.”

Amendment opponents said the one-day notice has worked well and the Senate leadership often gives member more than 24 hours to read the bills.

A “No” vote is against requiring 72 hours’ notice.

Sen. Joanne Comerford —

No Sen. Anne Gobi — No

Sen. Adam Hinds — No

Give two more days to read budget (S 10)

The Senate, 4 to 35, rejected an amendment that would increase from five to seven the number of days senators and the public would be given to read the state budget before the Senate votes on it. The Senate version of the state’s fiscal year 2021 state budget was 331 pages long and had a price tag of $46 billion.

Amendment supporters said this would simply give members and the public an additional two days to read, digest, understand and draft amendments to the most important bill the Legislature considers annually.

Amendment opponents said the five-day period is sufficient. They noted the additional two days would tie the hands of the Ways and Means Committee and prevent quick action when it is needed, as it was with the most recent budget that was delayed for months because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

A “No” vote is against the seven days.

Sen. Joanne Comerford — No

Sen. Anne Gobi — No

Sen. Adam Hinds — No

Also up on Beacon Hill House speaker appoints leadership team, committee chairs and committee members

Recently-elected House Speaker Ron Mariano, D-Quincy, named his leadership team and appointed committee chairs, vice chairs and members. The leadership team includes Rep. Claire Cronin, D-Easton, as the second in command as majority leader; Rep. Kate Hogan, D-Stow, to speaker pro tempore, the third-highest position in House leadership; Rep. Michael Moran, D-Boston, as the assistant majority leader; and Reps. Joseph Wagner, D-Chicopee, and Sarah Peake, D-Provincetown, as second assistant majority leaders.

The speaker, members of his leadership team, committee chairs and vice chairs receive additional pay ranging from $16,245 to $86,640.

Senate president appoints leadership team, committee chairs and committee members

Senate President Karen Spilka named her leadership team and appointed committee chairs, vice chairs and members. The leadership team mirrors the same one she assembled for the 2019 to 2020 session including Majority Leader Cindy Creem, D-Newton; President Pro Tempore Will Brownsberger, D-Belmont; President Emerita Harriette Chandler, D-Worcester; Assistant Majority Leaders Sens. Joan Lovely, D-Salem, Michael Barrett, D-Lexington, and Sal DiDomenico, D-Everett; Majority Whip Michael Rush, D-West Roxbury; and Assistant Majority Whip Julian Cyr, D-Truro.

The Senate president, members of her leadership team, committee chairs and vice chairs receive additional pay ranging from $16,245 to $86,640.

Ban sale of fur (HD 1592 and SD 1029)

Rep. Jack Patrick Lewis, D-Framingham, and Sen. John Velis, D-Westfield, filed legislation that would prohibit the sale of new fur products in Massachusetts.

The proposal would make it illegal to sell, trade, donate and distribute fur products in the state and would apply to clothing and fashion accessories like handbags, shoes, slippers, hats or keychains that contain fur. The bill exempts leather, cowhide and shearling, as well as previously owned fur products.

According to the Humane Society of the United States, more than 100 million undomesticated animals per year including foxes, raccoon dogs and mink are confined in small wire cages and then subjected to cruel killing methods that are not regulated by federal humane slaughter laws.

“Gassing minks and anal or genital electrocution of foxes and raccoon dogs are the most common methods of killing,” the group says. “Investigations have documented animals being bludgeoned to death and skinned while still alive.”

“Massachusetts is a world leader in animal welfare,” Rep. Lewis said. “Given the overwhelming evidence of inhumane practices in the fur industry, the risk fur production has to our public health and the availability of so many different options for warm and fashionable fabrics, we will not continue to be complicit in unnecessary cruelty.”

“The excruciating process these animals go through for their fur is utterly disturbing and must be ended,” Sen. Velis said. “Due to the work of so many great advocacy organizations, more and more people have begun to learn of this cruel practice and what it entails. Public sentiment against the fur industry has been growing for years, and this bill is an important next step for Massachusetts.”


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