Beacon Hill Roll Call: May 29 to June 2, 2023

Published: 6/9/2023 7:49:46 PM

Beacon Hill Roll Call records local senators’ votes on roll calls from the recent debate on the Senate’s version of a $55.9 billion fiscal 2024 state budget.

Send 90% of capital gains tax revenue above $1 billion to Rainy Day Fund (S 3)

Senate 3-36, rejected an amendment that would maintain the current 90/5/5 law under which 90% of the capital gains tax collections exceeding $1 billion goes to the Rainy Day Fund, 5% to the State Retiree Benefits Trust Fund and 5% to the State Retiree Benefits Trust Fund. The amendment would replace a pending 60/20/20 proposal that would send, in fiscal year 2024 only, 60% of the $1 billion excess to the Rainy Day Fund while sending 20% to the State Retiree Benefits Trust Fund and 20% to the State Pension Liability Fund.

Amendment supporters said it is essential to provide 90% to the Rainy Day Fund, which helps bail out the state during slow economic times when tax revenues shrink.

Sen. Bruce Tarr, R-Gloucester, the sponsor of the amendment, did not respond to repeated requests by Beacon Hill Roll Call asking him to comment on his amendment.

Amendment opponents said the Rainy Day Fund is flush with $7 billion and argued these retiree and pension funds are underfunded and need some additional money for just one year.

Senate Ways and Means Chair Sen. Mike Rodrigues, D-Westport, did not respond to repeated requests by Beacon Hill Roll Call asking him to comment on his opposition to the amendment.

A “No” vote is for the 60/20/20 formula.

Sen. Joanne Comerford — No

Sen. Anne Gobi — No

Sen. Paul Mark — No

$1 million to fight hunger on college campuses (S 3)

Senate 39-0, approved an amendment that would provide $1 million to support a hunger-free campus initiative to address food insecurity at public colleges and junior colleges.

“Unfortunately, too many students at our state two- and four-year colleges are food insecure,” said sponsor Sen. Joan Lovely, D-Salem. “This $1 million will support on-campus programming to address food insecurity, like mobile markets, SNAP enrollment assistance and more. I am grateful that the Senate recognizes the critical importance of addressing this issue. No one should have to learn on an empty stomach.”

A “Yes” vote is for the $1 million.

Sen. Joanne Comerford — Yes

Sen. Anne Gobi — Yes

Sen. Paul Mark — Yes

$300,000 for drink spiking crisis (S 3)

Senate 39-0, approved an amendment that would provide $300,000 for the state to develop, research and recommend strategies to address the rising incidence of reported drink spiking. The funds could also be used for a public awareness campaign about drink spiking and the bulk purchase of drink spiking test kits to be distributed at bars, restaurants and other nightlife establishments across the state.

Drink spiking is when a person adds alcohol or other drugs to someone’s drink without their knowledge. This can lead to many things, including sexual assault or the intent to hurt or steal from the person.

“Over the last year alone the commonwealth has seen an alarming increase in the number of reported drink spiking incidents at bars, nightclubs, concert venues and even house parties across the commonwealth,” said sponsor Sen. Paul Feeney, D-Foxborough. “These incidents are all too common and we’ve seen countless warnings from law enforcement: ‘use the buddy system, cover your drink and don’t leave your drink unattended.’ Yet reports of these incidents persist and the commonwealth’s response is still catching up to the onslaught of these reports.”

A “Yes” vote is for the $300,000.

Sen. Joanne Comerford — Yes

Sen. Anne Gobi — Yes

Sen. Paul Mark — Yes

Extra $400,000 for hate crime prevention (S 3)

Senate 39-0, approved an amendment that would increase funding by $400,000 (from $400,000 to $800,000) for grants to schools for the prevention of hate crimes and incidences of bias in public schools. The grants would be used for education, professional development, prevention or community outreach, prioritizing schools that have experienced hate crimes or incidences of bias within the last two years.

“With skyrocketing incidences of hate crimes and bias against people of color, LGBTQ+ individuals, Jewish people and other minority groups, these programs are now more important than ever,” said sponsor Sen. Mike Moore, D-Millbury. “Addressing misinformed beliefs during children and teens’ formative years is the best strategy for preventing discriminatory behavior down the road, Hate has no home here in Massachusetts. I’m pleased to have received my colleagues’ support on this critical funding.”

A “Yes” vote is for the additional $400,000.

Sen. Joanne Comerford — Yes

Sen. Anne Gobi — Yes

Sen. Paul Mark — Yes

Also up on Beacon Hill Buying alcohol (H 369)

The Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure Committee held a hearing on a bill that would allow liquor and retail store clerks to accept a valid photographic, non-duplicate motor vehicle license issued by other states as a valid form of ID to purchase liquor in Massachusetts.

“The commonwealth invites people from across the country to our sporting and live events, as well as to vacation and tour our historical sites,” said sponsor Rep. Paul McMurtry, D-Dedham. “It only makes sense that we allow our licensees to be able to serve these individuals using their state identification. In addition, this will give our businesses and restaurants additional sales and help them recover from losses during the pandemic.”

Higher education hearing

The Higher Education Committee held a hearing on several bills, including:

Protect students studying abroad (S 820): Would require high schools and colleges with programs that allow students to study abroad to prioritize health, safety and security in program development, implementation and management of study abroad programs. These programs would be required to conduct risk assessments for different portions of the program; establish protocols in case of an emergency; and provide statistics on any assaults, injuries or deaths that occur in these programs. Parents would be able to access this information to better understand whether a program is right for their child.

“Study abroad programs provide valuable lessons and lifelong memories for students across our state, but we must ensure schools are responsible and care for our children’s safety,” said sponsor Sen. Sal DiDomenico, D-Everett. “By establishing safety and transparency protocols, I am confident that passing this legislation will help protect Massachusetts students learning abroad.”

Require Narcan in college dorns and housing (S 849): Would require all state universities that have dormitories or other housing for students to have Narcan or similar opioid overdose reversal treatments in each college-operated housing building. The bill would also require that all resident assistants (RAs) employed by the school be trained in administering Narcan.

“Massachusetts set a new record high for overdose deaths in 2021, with 2,290 lives tragically lost,” said sponsor Sen. John Velis, D-Westfield. “Opioid antagonists like Narcan continue to be our best tool to reverse overdoses when they occur and this legislation would help expand access to this critical medication on college campuses throughout our state.”

Colleges must maintain standards to get state funds for scholarships, financial aid (S 830): Would make colleges with undergraduate graduation rates of less than 30% or with an above-average rate of students who default on student loans ineligible to receive state scholarship and financial aid funds.”

“I filed [the bill] because there are no safeguards in place to prevent state financial aid from being diverted to underperforming institutions, representing a significant disservice to taxpayers and to our students,” said sponsor Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Lowell.


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