Beacon Hill Roll Call

Published: 4/10/2019 5:42:38 PM

There were no roll calls in the House or Senate last week.

This week’s report features the grades received from the Citizens for Limited Taxation, Massachusetts Public Interest Group and Planned Parenthood Advocacy Fund.

Citizens for Limited Taxation (CLT)

CLT, founded in 1974, describes itself as the group that “defended state taxpayers against a proposed state graduated income tax, which it defeated on the 1976 statewide ballot, and again in 1994. CLT also limited property and auto excise taxes with Proposition 2½ in 1980, repealed the surtax and created a state tax cap in 1986 and rolled back the “temporary” income tax hike on the 2000 ballot. For decades CLT has provided its annual ‘Rating of Legislators’ to provide taxpayers with easy access to the performance of their respective state representative and senator regarding tax policy.”

“For 45 years CLT has been the bulwark for taxpayers against unlimited taxation in a state that has an insatiable spending problem,” said Chip Ford, executive director. “Since its founding, CLT has saved Massachusetts taxpayers billions of their hard-earned dollars.”

Key to scorecard: CLT used ten House votes and five Senate votes when calculating the 2017 ratings of the state’s legislators. Issues include the legislative pay hike, reducing the sales tax and income tax to 5 percent, imposing a graduated income tax, increasing the senior property tax deduction to $2,000 and requiring a social security number in order to get public housing.

More details on the scorecard at http://cltg.org/cltg/clt2018/2017_Ratings.htm

Here is the percentage of time local representatives and senators voted with CLT:

Rep. Natalie Blais Not yet elected Rep. Paul Mark 0 percent Rep. Susannah Whipps 70 percent Sen. Joanne Comerford Not yet elected Sen. Adam Hinds 20 percent

Massachusetts Public Interest Research Group (MASSPIRG)

MASSPIRG, founded in 1972, describes itself as a consumer group that “stands up to powerful interests whenever they threaten our health and safety, our financial security or our right to fully participate in our democratic society. Since 1972, we’ve stood up for consumers, countering the influence of big banks, insurers, chemical manufacturers and other powerful special interests.”

“In our role as watchdog and advocate for the public interest, we monitor the voting records of Massachusetts’ state lawmakers each legislative session,” said Executive Director Janet Domenitz. “We appreciate the hard work of the entire Legislature, and particularly those that scored 100 percent.”

“While a number of our legislative priorities passed into law, many more did not. Disappointingly, a number of popular bills were never brought up for a vote – despite being approved by a committee and being cosponsored by a significant number of lawmakers. We hope that the 2019-2020 session brings more transparency, and more wins, for the public interest,” she concluded.

Key to rating: MASSPIRG’s scorecard graded state lawmakers on a variety of votes and co-sponsorships of bills including ones that would protect consumers, improve voter access to the ballot, invest in public transportation, promote government transparency, increase renewable energy, protect bees and reduce solid waste

Members of the Senate are scored out of 12 points (11 votes and one bill co-sponsorship). Members of the House are scored out of nine points (seven votes and two bill co-sponsorships.)

More details on the scorecard are at https://masspirg.org/sites/pirg/files/reports/MAP%20Legislative%20Scorecard%20Final%202017-18%20session.pdf

Here is the percentage of time local representatives and senators voted with MASSPIRG:

Rep. Natalie Blais Not yet elected Rep. Paul Mark 89 percent Rep. Susannah Whipps 67 percent Sen. Joanne Comerford Not yet elected Sen. Adam Hinds 100 percent

Planned Parenthood Advocacy Fund

The Planned Parenthood Advocacy Fund, founded in 1984, is the advocacy and political arm of Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts which was founded in 1928. It describes itself as “advocates for state policies that dismantle barriers to sexual and reproductive health care, including safe, legal abortion, improve access to comprehensive sex education and protect reproductive rights of all people.”

“As the leading advocate for reproductive rights in Massachusetts, the Planned Parenthood Advocacy Fund is working towards a state in which every person has the rights, freedoms, and opportunities to control their lives and determine the course of their own futures—no matter what,” said Tricia Wajda, Vice President of External Affairs for the Planned Parenthood Advocacy Fund. By championing bold policies that break down entrenched barriers to health care, improve access to sex education, and defend reproductive rights against political attacks, The Advocacy Fund is helping build healthier and more equitable communities.”

Key to rating: The scorecard assigns each Massachusetts state representative and senator a rating of: “Champion,” “Ally,” “Mixed,” “Opponent” or “NEI” (not enough information) based on each legislator’s lifetime voting record, co-sponsorship history, public statements and other factors. Here are the definitions:

Champion: A legislator who has demonstrated leadership on the Advocacy Fund’s legislative agenda and works in partnership with the fund to advance its shared goal to improve access to sexual and reproductive health care and protect the health and rights of Massachusetts residents.

Ally: A legislator who consistently supports the fund’s legislative and policy agenda including protecting access to safe, legal abortion.

Mixed: A legislator who may oppose access to safe, legal abortion - but who supports preventive health measures – such as family planning and sex education – and is willing to work with the Advocacy Fund in support of these issues. In other instances, a “mixed” legislator may support abortion access, but has taken action against sexual and reproductive health care access either with a vote or public statement.

Opponent: A legislator who vocally opposes access to safe, legal abortion and/or access to sexual and reproductive health care more broadly. A legislator who supports some health issues included in the Advocacy Agenda may still be considered an Advocacy Fund opponent.

Not Enough Information (NEI): A legislator who has not participated in the Advocacy Fund’s endorsement process or has not taken a public stance on the fund’s priority issues.

More details on the scorecard are at: https://www.plannedparenthoodaction.org/planned-parenthood-advocacy-fund-massachusetts-inc/elections/legislative-scorecard

Here is how local representatives and senators were rated by the Planned Parenthood Advocacy Fund:

Rep. Natalie Blais Not yet elected Rep. Paul Mark Champion Rep. Susannah Whipps Mixed Sen. Joanne Comerford Not yet elected Sen. Adam Hinds Ally

Also up on Beacon Hill

Cap on Welfare Benefits For Kids (H 3594) — The House and Senate approved, without a roll call vote, and sent to Gov. Charlie Baker a bill that repeals the current law that denies an additional $100 in welfare benefits to children conceived while – or soon after – the family began receiving welfare benefits. The law was adopted in 1995 as part of a welfare reform package that was aimed at discouraging families already receiving public support from having more children.

Supporters of the repeal say that there are some 8,700 children who currently fall under the cap in the Bay State. These families are barred from receiving an additional $100 a month to help support that child. They said there are no facts to back up the charge that families are having more children in order to get the additional $100.

“I think it’s unfair to ask the constituents back home to pay for a benefit for others that they don’t get themselves,” said Sen. Don Humason, R-Westfield, one of only two opponents of the bill. Rep. Colleen Garry, D-Dracut, the other opponent of the bill, did not respond to repeated attempts by Beacon Hill Roll Call to get a comment on her vote.

Humason says the Legislature should have a big heart and take care of people but noted he also needs to listen to his constituents who tell him they are having a difficult time making ends meet and are limiting the number of children they have. He said his constituents tell him they are not eligible for any welfare benefits but are forced to pay these benefits for others who decide to have more children.

Ban Conversion Therapy For Anyone Under 18 (H 150) —The House and Senate approved, without a roll call vote, and sent to Gov. Charlie Baker a bill that would prohibit psychiatrists, psychologists and other health care providers from attempting to change the sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression of anyone under 18. Conversion therapy exposes the person to a stimulus while simultaneously subjecting him or her to some form of discomfort. The therapy is primarily used to try to convert gays and lesbians to be straight.

Both branches approved a similar bill last year but it never made it to Gov. Charlie Baker’s desk.

“If a conversion therapy bill gets to my desk and we don’t see any other issues with it, it’s something we’d be inclined to support,” Baker said recently.

Mental health experts and LGBTQ groups charge that the practice is scientifically unproven and unsound and can trigger depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts in these youngsters.

Opponents of the repeal said that the passage of the bill was “an assault on parental rights in the commonwealth.” They said it is unfair that most state legislators apparently believe that parents should not be able to get gender-confused children any treatment, even counseling, that might help them avoid cross-sex hormone injections, sterility or ‘transition’ surgery.

 

Bob Katzen welcomes feedback at bob@beaconhillrollcall.com




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