Page 14 THE MALDEN ADVOCATE–Friday, July 10, 2020 Beacon Hill Roll Call By Bob Katzen THE HOUSE AND SENATE: Beacon Hill Roll Call records local representatives’ and senators’ votes on roll calls from the week of June 29-July 3. MAKE IT EASIER TO VOTE BY MAIL (H 4820) House 155-1, Senate 39-0, approved and sent to Gov. Charlie Baker a bill that would direct Secretary of State Bill Galvin to send applications for a mail-in ballot to every registered voter by July 15 for the September 1 primary and by September 14 for the November 3 general election. The bill also includes expanded in-person early voting options prior to the elections. Voters who wish to vote in person are given seven days (from August 22 to August 28) to vote early in the primary and 14 days (from October 17 to October 30) to vote early in the general election. Voters can also choose to vote on Election Day. Other provisions provide prepaid return postage for ballots and applications for ballots; set August 26 as the deadline to apply to early vote by mail in the September 1 primary and October 28 as the deadline to apply to early vote by mail in the November 3 general election; provide for absentee voting by any person taking precaution related to COVID-19; require Galvin, in conjunction with the commissioner of the Department of Public Health, to establish emergency regulations requiring public health safeguards for in-person voting, including social distancing of voters and election officers, face coverings and personal protective equipment, frequent use of sanitizers and sanitary use of marking pens. “This bill is essential to the operation and integrity of democracy in the commonwealth during this public health crisis,” said Election Laws Committee House Chair John Lawn (D-Watertown). “I am truly proud of the team effort that led us to the finish line to complete comprehensive legislation that will safeguard elections this fall and provide many options for voters to ensure that all voices are heard. In a time where we are witnessing state election actions that are resulting in a disproportionate burden on the voter, Massachusetts must take the lead in providing safe and equitable access to the polls for its citizens. This legislation does just that.” “The Massachusetts Legislature just adopted a critical election reform package that will help ensure that no citizen has to choose between their health and their right to vote,” said Pam Wilmot, Executive Director of Common Cause which has fought hard for the bill. “The bill embodies best practices from across the country and will help our election system cope with the unprecedented threat of COVID-19.” “We started this process with the goal to make voting easier during COVID-19 and this bill does just that by providing voters with options,” said Election Laws Committee Senate Chair Sen. Barry Finegold (D-North Andover). “For the first time ever in Massachusetts, voters can vote by mail and vote early in both the 2020 primary and general elections. In-person voting on Election Day remains an option and is made safer in this legislation. The bill equips clerks with the tools they need to count ballots expeditiously and adapt to these election advancements.” “We applaud the House, Senate and governor for firmly moving to brace our elections for COVID-19,” said Cheryl Clyburn Crawford, Executive Director at MassVOTE. “Now we need to prepare. This means partnering with local election officials to ensure that they have the tools they need to run our elections this fall and educate voters so they may confidently cast their ballots in September and November.” Rep. Colleen Garry (D-Dracut), the lone opponent of the bill, did not respond to repeated requests by Beacon Hill Roll Call to explain why she voted against the measure. Back on June 3, Garry did offer the reason she voted against an earlier version of the bill: “I was very concerned about the manpower needed in the clerk’s offices especially in the smaller communities like I represent,” she said. “The expense of the expansion of the mailings and the need for more election personnel on longer early voting days and the possibility of fraud [is why I voted against the bill.] I heard loudly from my constituents that they did not agree with this proposal.” (A “Yes” vote is for the bill. A “No” vote is against it.) Rep. Paul DonatoYes Rep. Steven Ultrino Yes Sen. Jason LewisYes $200 MILLION FOR LOCAL ROADS AND BRIDGES (H 4803) House 159-0, Senate 39-0, reduced from $300 to $200 million Chapter 90 funding for cities and towns for the maintenance, repair and improvement of local roads and bridges. The House in March and the Senate in early June, approved proposals that included $300 million in Chapter 90 funding for cities and towns’ local roads and bridges. That $300 million was a $100 million increase over last year. The Senate version of the legislation also established a new seven-member MBTA Board of Directors to succeed the current Fiscal Management and Control Board. The MBTA Board of Directors would be responsible for governing and exercising the corporate powers of the MBTA. The Senate version differed from the House version which does not create a brand-new MBTA board but instead extends and expands the existing Fiscal and Management Control Board. The House and Senate changed their minds and reached an agreement to reduce the road and bridge funding to $200 million and to keep the MBTA’s Fiscal and Management Control Board in place for another year. That measure is now on Gov. Baker’s desk. Supporters of the reduction say that, in retrospect, the state cannot afford the extra $100 million while state revenues are down by billions of dollars. Despite repeated requests by Beacon Hill Roll Call, House Transportation Committee chair Rep. William Strauss (D-Mattapoisett) and Senate chair Joseph Boncore (D-Winthrop) did not respond when asked to explain why they both championed the original $300 million and then supported the reduction to $200 million. The Massachusetts Municipal Association (MMA) expressed mixed feelings. “On behalf of cities and towns, we are glad that the Chapter 90 bond bill has been enacted, so that communities can access desperately needed funds to repair and rebuild local roadways,” said MMA Executive Director and CEO Geoff Beckwith. “However, our members are understandably disappointed that the funding level remains flat at $200 million, rather than the $300 million amount that representatives and senators voted to support earlier in the process. MMA will continue to advocate for an increase in Chapter 90 road funds, so that communities can adequately maintain 30,000 miles of local roads.» (A «Yes» vote is for the $200 million) Rep. Paul DonatoYes Rep. Steven Ultrino Yes Sen. Jason LewisYes RACIAL DISPARITIES IN MATERNAL MORTALITY (H 4818) House 159-0, approved and sent to the Senate a bill that would create a special 23-member commission to examine and make recommendations to reduce or eliminate racial disparities in the death of mothers before, during and after childbirth. The commission would look for problems and solutions by examining evidence-based practices, including approaches taken by other states or grassroots organizations to reduce or eliminate racial disparities in maternal mortality or severe maternal morbidity; barriers to accessing prenatal and postpartum care, how that care is delivered and the quality of that care; and how historical and current structural, institutional and individual forms of racism, including implicit bias or discrimination, affect the incidence and prevalence of maternal mortality in communities of color. “Tragically in the commonwealth, black women are twice as likely to die from pregnancy-related causes and have twice the rate of maternal morbidities as white women,” said Rep. Kay Khan (D-Newton), one of the bill’s sponsors. “These inequities are the result of generations of systemic racism in health care. This legislation offers a long overdue opportunity to begin righting this wrong. As leaders in state government, and personally for me as a nurse, I believe it is incumbent upon us to do everything we can to ensure all Massachusetts mothers are healthy and thriving.” The 23-member commission would include the House and Senate chairs of the Committee on Public Health, a member of the Black and Latino Legislative Caucus, the Massachusetts Medical Society and the Ellen Story Commission on Postpartum Depression. Others include a midwife, an obstetrician and a gynecologist; two members from a community of color; and a person who has lost an immediate family member to maternal mortality. (A “Yes” vote is for the bill). Rep. Paul DonatoYes Rep. Steven Ultrino Yes $1.1 BILLION FOR COVID-19 RESPONSE (S 2789) Senate 39-0, approved a bill that would provide $1.1 billion to cover expenses related to response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Gov. Baker has been urging the Legislature to quickly get a spending bill to his desk because the state cannot be eligible for federal reimbursements for costs related to the respiratory virus until a package is approved by the Legislature and signed by the governor. The package includes $350 million for personal protective equipment, $139 million for rate add-ons for providers, $82 million for child care needs including emergency child care for essential workers, $15 million for essential behavioral health services including services for children, $15 million for food security support, $10 million for grants to community foundations with direct support like housing assistance, and $10 million for wage and benefit support to workers impacted by the virus. “This bill will help the commonwealth continue to make strides in its fight against COVID-19 as well as support the many sectors impacted by this unprecedented public health crisis,” said Senate President Karen Spilka (D-Ashland). “With the Senate actively working on legislation to address racial inequities, I am thrilled this bill takes the historic step of recognizing the importance of Juneteenth—a day celebrating the liberation of the remaining enslaved African Americans— and making it a state holiday.” “Due to the unprecedented challenges facing our commonwealth, this supplemental budget will allow us to maximize federal aid to support COVID-19 response costs and provide critical resources to help working families and our most vulnerable populations,” said Sen. Mike Rodrigues (D-Westport) the chair of the Senate Committee on Ways & Means. (A “Yes” vote is for the bill.) Sen. Jason Lewis Yes HOW LONG WAS LAST WEEK’S SESSION? Beacon Hill Roll Call tracks the length of time that the House and Senate were in session each week. Many legislators say that legislative sessions are only one aspect of the Legislature’s job and that a lot of important work is done outside of the House and Senate chambers. They note that their jobs also involve committee work, research, constituent work and other matters that are important to their districts. Critics say that the Legislature does not meet regularly or long enough to debate and vote in public view on the thousands of pieces of legislation that have been filed. They note that the infrequency and brief length of sessions are misguided and lead to irresponsible late-night sessions and a mad rush to act on dozens of bills in the days immediately preceding the end of an annual session. During the week of June 29July 3, the House met for a total of 13 hours and 22 minutes while the Senate met for a total of eleven hours and 33 minutes. Mon. June 29 House 11:02 a.m. to 3:57 p.m. Senate 11:17 a.m. to 4:02 p.m. Tues. June 30 House 11:01 a.m. to 2:25 p.m. No Senate session Wed. July 1 No House session No Senate session Thurs. July 2 House 11:01 a.m. to 4:04 p.m. Senate 11:26 a.m. to 6:14 p.m. Fri. July 3 No House session No Senate session Bob Katzen welcomes feedback at bob@beaconhillrollcall.com

15 Publizr Home

You need flash player to view this online publication