Page 14 THE REVERE ADVOCATE – FRIDAY, JUNE 7, 2024 “Symbols have weight,” said By Bob Katzen If you have any questions about this week’s report, e-mail us at bob@beaconhillrollcall.com or call us at (617) 720-1562 GET A FREE SUBSCRIPTION TO MASSTERLIST — Join more than 22,000 people, from movers and shakers to political junkies and interested citizens, who start their weekday morning with MASSterList—the popular newsletter that chronicles news and informed analysis about what’s going on up on Beacon Hill, in Massachusetts politics, policy, media and infl uence. The stories are drawn from major news organizations as well as specialized publications. MASSterlist will be e-mailed to you FREE every Monday through Friday morning and will give you a leg up on what’s happening in the blood sport of Bay State politics. For more information and to get your free subscription, go to: https://lp.constantcontactpages. com/su/aPTLucKs THE HOUSE AND SENATE: Beacon Hill Roll Call records local senators’ votes on roll calls from the recent debate on the Senate’s $55.9 billion version of the fi scal 2025 state budget. There were no roll calls in the House or Senate last week. STATE FLAG, SEAL AND MOTTO (S 4) Senate 30-9, approved an amendment providing $100,000 to establish a new advisory commission, under the governor’s charge, to propose a new state fl ag, seal and motto within one year. The commission would be authorized to request proposals from professional designers and solicit a public competition for people to submit designs. The current seal portrays an indigenous person on a shield. The crest above it, which is also the state’s military crest, features an arm holding a sword. The motto is roughly translated from Latin as “By the sword we seek peace, but peace only under liberty.” This would not be the fi rst commission to try to tackle this project. In November 2023, a commission that was fi rst formed in 2000, issued a report but without any specifi c recommendation on changes to the fl ag, seal and motto. “The imagery on our state seal and fl ag has long been viewed by indigenous people and others as racist, symbolizing white supremacy and ethnic cleansing perpetrated against the indigenous peoples of this region,” said amendment sponsor Sen. Jason Lewis (D-Winchester). “I was proud to sponsor and help lead the passage of an amendment … that would establish an advisory commission to design a new seal, fl ag and motto for the commonwealth. Our collective symbols of identity matter, and if they marginalize some of our fellow residents and perpetuate harmful stereotypes, then they should be reconsidered and replaced.” “The current fl ag, seal and motto convey the subjugation of Native Americans through violence, and our indigenous residents have told us the pain and harm that result,” said Sen. Becca Rausch (D-Needham). “We should never be afraid to learn and move forward from our historical mistakes. It’s rarely a compelling argument to say, ‘it’s always been this way.’ Several communities in my district strongly support an update that better refl ects our shared values and hope to have the new fl ag, seal and motto swiftly, before our towns have to invest more resources printing an antiquated design that will soon be changed.” Sen. Jo Comerford (D-Northampton). “They have meaning. They have power. With this amendment, Massachusetts moves necessarily forward in the process of creating a new state fl ag, seal and motto that refl ect the mutual respect and connection we want and need between all people who share the commonwealth today.” “The Massachusetts Legislature is currently working to address critical, urgent issues such as the commonwealth’s housing crisis, the rising cost of living, our changing climate and more,” said Sen. Mike Moore (D-Millbury). “While there are valid arguments to be made that the state seal, fl ag and motto are due for modernization, a special commission created to study the issue met for almost three years before issuing a report in 2023 that made no specific proposals. With so many more pressing issues aff ecting the everyday lives of Bay Staters, do we just keep creating commissions?” “Given the current fi scal state of the commonwealth, using taxpayer funds to recommission a commission for a new fl ag, seal and motto is wasteful,” said Sen. Ryan Fattman (R-Sutton). “Over two years were spent by the previous commission to reveal no concrete plan forward or even consensus if changes are needed. That commission decided to turn this issue over to the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s offi ce because of a lack of consensus. There are countless other priorities troubling the residents of Massachusetts and in my opinion, elected offi cials should be focused on those, not this.” “My decision to vote no … was informed by the fact that a commission already exists for the purpose of designing a new seal, fl ag and motto for Massachusetts,” said Sen. Mike Brady (D-Brockton). “Moreover, I have concerns about the necessity of allocating an additional $100,000 for another commission. I believe that existing resources should be utilized effi ciently, prioritizing essential services such as funding for our police, fi refi ghters and teachers.” (A “Yes” vote is for the amendment. A “No” vote is against it.) Sen. Lydia Edwards Yes $655,553 MORE FOR NARCAN (S 4) Senate 39-0, approved an amendment increasing funding by $655,553 (from $644,447 to $1,300,000) for the distribution of Narcan to cities and towns and community organizations. Narcan is the brand name for a lifesaving overdose-reversal drug. “If we have learned anything from the past 25 years of this opioid epidemic, it’s that Narcan saves lives,” said amendment sponsor Sen. John Velis (D-Westfi eld). “Just last year, 9,000 overdoses were successfully reversed from Narcan. It is critical that as the demand for Narcan increases and as our drug supply becomes more deadly — that we as a Legislature provide.. Adequate funding to keep pace with the needs of our communities and most importantly keep people alive. The unfortunate truth is you cannot treat someone who is dead.” (A “Yes” vote is for the $655,553.) Sen. Lydia Edwards Yes COMBAT ANTISEMITISM (S 4) Senate 40-0, approved an amendment that would require the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to make resources, curriculum and professional development available to schools on antisemitism and the harm that it causes. The amendment also establishes and regulates a special commission on combating antisemitism in the Bay State. “It is deeply disturbing and truthfully infuriating to know that Massachusetts is among those fi ve states that cumulatively make up almost half of our country’s antisemitic acts of hate,” said amendment sponsor Sen. John Velis (DWestfi eld). “We pride ourselves for being an inclusive and welcoming state here in the commonwealth. That regardless of your background, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation or religion, we accept you as you are and will treat you with kindness and respect. But for too many of our Jewish friends and neighbors, we are not living up to our promise.” Velis continued, “Hate in all of its forms must always be condemned, and yet antisemitism has persisted in countless forms for over 2,000 years dating back to biblical times. Tragically, antisemitism continues to not only exist, but is becoming increasingly normalized. I am proud to be a part of a legislative body that is willing to overwhelmingly speak out in the strongest possible way against it and educate others about the harm that it is causing.” (A “Yes” vote is for the amendment.) Sen. Lydia Edwards Yes FERTILITY PRESERVATION TREATMENTS (S 4) Senate 40-0, approved an amendment that would require health insurance companies to cover fertility preservation treatments for individuals who have a medical diagnosis or who are going through treatments that may impact their fertility. Supporters said the change would have a minimal impact on premiums. They noted that the Massachusetts Center for Health Information and Analysis reviewed the proposal and found that it would likely increase premiums by just two cents per member per month. “Tragically, many Massachusetts residents who are receiving treatment for cancer, sickle cell disease or other serious health conditions must also contend with the prospect of not being able to have biological children,” said amendment sponsor Sen. Cindy Creem (D-Newton). “Fertility preservation techniques are available, but without insurance coverage, they can be cost-prohibitive. I sponsored this amendment because in the commonwealth, reproductive health care is a right enjoyed by all, and the cost of fertility preservation should not be a barrier to starting a family for patients going through radiation or chemotherapy.” (A “Yes” vote is for the amendment.) Sen. Lydia Edwards Yes $914,000 FOR VETERANS’ HOMES (S 4) Senate 39-0, approved an amendment providing $914,000 to combat veterans’ homelessness by maintaining and operating three veterans’ homes and providing counseling and benefi ts to disabled veterans and their families. “Veterans’ homes are an indispensable resource for those who have given so much in service of our country,” said amendment sponsor Sen. John Cronin (DLunenberg). “The funding … will stabilize three veterans’ homes in North Central Mass, allowing residents to access the supports and wraparound services they need to live meaningful lives. We owe it to our veterans to ensure that they have every possible tool to thrive.” (A “Yes” vote is for the amendment.) Sen. Lydia Edwards Yes ALSO UP ON BEACON HILL RENAME THE OFFICE OF ELDER AFFAIRS — Gov. Maura Healey filed legislation that would change the name of the Executive Offi ce of Elder Aff airs to the Executive Offi ce of Aging and Independence. The proposal also replaces outdated language in the state’s lawbooks, including changing “elderly persons,” to “older adults” and “handicapped” to “adults with a disability.” The new legislation also incorporates gender-neutral language into current law.

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