Beacon Hill Roll Call: Oct. 28 to Nov. 1, 2019

Published: 11/8/2019 6:01:54 PM
Modified: 11/8/2019 6:01:40 PM

Beacon Hill Roll Call records the only roll call vote of local senators from the week of Oct. 28 to Nov. 1. There were no roll calls in the House last week.

College closures (S 2387)

Senate 37 to 0, approved a bill that would require colleges and universities to post financial information online in a publicly accessible fashion, undergo regular budgetary screening and alert state officials if they face imminent closure.

The bill was filed in response to some college closures and mergers in recent years, most notably Mount Ida College, which in April 2018 caught everyone by surprise with the unexpected announcement that it would shut down at the end of that school year.

Under the bill, all higher education institutions would be required to alert the Board of Higher Education if they have any liabilities that create a risk of “imminent closure.” The measure also requires board members at every college and university to undergo regular fiduciary and accreditation training.

If the board determines that a school does in fact face closure, the school would be required to create a contingency plan with details outlining how students can complete their programs, how their records would be maintained and how deposits would be refunded.

The board would impose a fine of up to $1,000 per day if it determines that an institution has failed to comply with this new law. The board would also have the power to suspend state funding to the college or revoke degree-granting authority.

“The Senate has continually placed an emphasis on education and making sure that students are afforded every opportunity possible,” said Sen. Anne Gobi, D-Spencer, Senate chair of the Committee on Higher Education. “This bill adds necessary protections to make sure that students, faculty and staff are protected from abrupt school closings and provides greater transparency and accountability relative to the financial stability of all institutions of higher learning.”

The House has already approved its own version of the bill and a conference committee will likely hammer out a compromise version.

A “Yes” vote is for the bill.

Sen. Joanne Comerford — Yes

Sen. Adam Hinds — Yes

Also up on Beacon Hill Safe drinking water in schools (H 774/S 500)

The Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture held a hearing on bills that would mandate at least annual testing of drinking water in schools and early child care centers across the state. The bill establishes the action that must be taken by the school or child care center to remedy a situation in which there are excessive lead levels.

“Students and their teachers deserve drinking water that doesn’t poison them when they go to school,” said the House bill’s sponsor Rep. Lori Ehrlich, D-Marblehead. “Now that test results have given us the contours of the public health crisis it is time to act.”

Sen. Joan Lovely, D-Salem, the sponsor of the Senate version, said the proposal will ensure that Massachusetts students can get educated without drinking toxins when using school water fountains.

“The strong turnout and testimony by elected officials and environmental advocates alike at the Environmental Committee hearing demonstrate the wisdom of de-leading the commonwealth’s school drinking water,” Lovely said.

“We know the health and safety of our children is priceless,” said Deirdre Cummings, legislative director for MASSPIRG. “Time and time again, Massachusetts has been a leader in protecting our children’s health and safety. We hope that leadership is extended once again and make getting the lead out of our schools’ water a priority in this legislative session.”

Diaper changing stations (S 75)

The Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities Committee’s agenda included requiring public buildings and places of public accommodation to provide a semi-private diaper changing station accessible to all caretakers of children, regardless of sex, gender or disability. This law would apply only to new construction and buildings undergoing substantial reconstruction.

“All parents and care providers, regardless of gender, should be able to adequately care for their young child,” said the measure’s sponsor Sen. Becca Rausch, D-Needham. “This bill affirms that lots of people, not just moms, care for kids and change diapers. Installing diaper changing stations is not a large expense or burden, and the bill follows federal precedent: in 2016, all federal facilities made baby-changing accommodations available in both men’s and women’s restrooms.”

Right to ‘dry’ (S 1169)

The Municipalities and Regional Government Committee held a hearing on a local option proposal that would prohibit a city or town from outright banning any homeowner or tenant from using a clothesline to dry clothing. The law would only take effect in cities or towns that opt into it. Condominium associations and landlords would be allowed to place reasonable restrictions on the placement and use of clotheslines, but could not ban them completely.

Supporters say that using a clothesline in place of energy-intensive automatic dryers is a low-tech way of cutting energy use, reducing pollution and saving on bills. They note the bill will protect the aesthetic and safety interests of homeowners by allowing homeowners’ associations to impose reasonable location and manner restrictions on clothesline use.

Opponents say clotheslines all across a community are not very attractive and would bother neighbors and decrease the value of homes in the neighborhood.

Public health legislation

The Public Health Committee held a hearing on several bills including:

Require trauma kits in public buildings (S 1337) — Requires that trauma kits be available and easily accessible in public buildings including public schools, private schools, town or city halls, libraries, transportation facilities, senior centers, places of worship, meeting halls, recreational facilities, entertainment venues and sporting venues.

The proposal describes a trauma kit as one designed to contain materials to help a general bystander provide first aid to another citizen suffering from a serious, life-threatening bleed. It requires the kits to include a tourniquet, gauze, gloves and a proper training booklet.

Require defibrillators in health clubs (H 1890) — Requires at least one defibrillator and an employee or volunteer who is trained to operate it in every public and private health club across the state. Also requires health clubs to have a written emergency response plan available to all club members and mandates that the plan is regularly reviewed and rehearsed.

Evaluating and addressing security risks at hospitals (H 1976) — Requires the state’s Public Health Department to develop statewide standards for evaluating and addressing known security risks at health care facilities. Also mandates all health care facilities to develop and implement a program based on the statewide standards, to minimize the danger of workplace violence to employees.

Promoting sterilization during surgery (H 1986) — Requires all hospitals’ surgical and intensive care units to display in a clear and visible place the following sign: “Wash your hands; clean the patient’s skin with chlorhexidine antiseptic; place sterile drapes over the patient’s entire body; wear a sterile gown, hat, mask and gloves; and put a sterile dressing over the catheter site once the line is inserted.”

Greenfield Recorder

14 Hope Street
Greenfield, MA 01302-1367
Phone: (413) 772-0261
Fax: (413) 772-2906


Copyright © 2019 by Newspapers of Massachusetts, Inc.
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy