... Like most issues, short-term rental regulation inspires little debate in House ...... Health care confidentiality bill nearing Gov. Baker's desk ...... Lynn finances bill on the move in Senate ...... Lawmakers ready to pass bill to avoid health insure price spike for about 1,000 retired teachers ...... New Rep. Fiola bill calls for look at "logistical issues" related to outpatient methadone centers ...... Facing pressure over funding, Peyser emphasizes importance of education strategies ...... House advances bill taxing, regulating short-term rentals in Massachusetts ...... Baker files bill addressing health insurance options for municipal retirees ...... Rep. Gordon's sexual harassment investigation bill sent to Judicary Committee ...... MBTA's years-old promise of reliable wi-fi remains distant dream for commuter rail riders ...... BLS: Boston households paid electricity prices 68 percent higher than national average in February 2018 ...... Goldman Sachs CEO to speak at BC chief execs club on March 22 ...
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ADJOURNED 'til Monday at 11 a.m. (informal)
ADJOURNED 'til Monday at 11 a.m. (no calendar)


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CONVENES: The House convened at 11:01 a.m. with Rep. Kafka presiding. Reps. Garballey and Wong were also present.

PRAYER: Father Rick Walsh said, We ask you to bless all who work in this historic edifice and ask you to look after everyone who enters this chamber today. We remember Louis Brandeis, who was born on this day in 1856. When he graduated from Harvard he did so with the highest grade point average in the school's history. That record stood for 80 years. Brandeis fought legal battles against powerful corporations, public corruption, and mass consumerism. His legal arguments helped develop the Federal Trade Commission and Federal Reserve. His arguments on the Supreme Court are considered among the greatest arguments of that court.

PLEDGE: Members, staff and guests rose to recite the Pledge of Allegiance.

RESOLUTIONS: The House adopted congratulatory resolutions filed by Rep. O'Connell and Rep. J. Rogers.

PLYMOUTH COUNTY PETITION: The House referred a petition of Rep. Muratore and others for legislation authorizing the treasurer of Plymouth County to transfer certain funds to the Committee on Municipalities and Regional Government.

SICK LEAVE: The House ordered to a third reading H 3989 establishing a sick leave bank for Gary Erskine, an employee of the Department of Public Health.

SICK LEAVE: The House ordered to a third reading H 3990 establishing a sick leave bank for Patricia Burnette, an employee of the Department of Mental Health.

SOUTH BOSTON BANDSTAND: The House ordered to a third reading H 4005 designating a bandstand at the Marine Park in South Boston as the Harry G. Uhlman, Jr. Memorial Band Stand.

SICK LEAVE: The House ordered to a third reading H 4007 establishing a sick leave bank for Rosibel Umanzor, an employee of the Department of Public Health.

RECESS: The House recessed at 11:09 a.m. intending to return at noon.

At noon, about 15 members were present in the House Chamber. At 12:35, an aide to Speaker DeLeo entered the chamber and spoke in the well with Majority Leader Mariano and Minority Leader Jones. Reps. Haddad and Peake spoke on the rostrum. Reps. Whelan, Tucker, Zlotnik and Galvin spoke at the rear of the chamber.

At 1 p.m., about 30 members were in the House Chamber. Some members huddled with staff to go over amendments for the planned criminal justice debate, others chatted about the Patriots game and others sat in their seats working on their cellphones.

RETURN: The House returned to order at 1:01 p.m. with Rep. Haddad presiding. About 30 other members were also present.

LYNNFIELD LAND: The House enacted H 4010 authorizing the town of Lynnfield to convey certain land.

Rep. Haddad said, Will the court officers please summons the members for a roll call vote. The chair will add that there is a second roll call vote expected right after the first and members should remain in the chamber.

TRURO LAND: By a roll call vote of 148-0 the House enacted H 2424 authorizing the town of Truro to convey a perpetual trail easement on conservation land to Truro conservation trust. Time was 1:08 p.m.

ANNOUNCEMENT: The House clerk said the voting stations of Reps. Donato, Miceli and Orrall are locked.

LENOX LAND: By a roll call vote of 151-0, the House enacted H 3833 authorizing the town of Lenox to convey a conservation restriction on certain parcels of land.

SICK LEAVE: The House engrossed H 3946 establishing a sick leave bank for Paola Pol, an employee of the Trial Court.

Rep. Haddad three times called the House to order at 1:13 p.m. Court officers cleared the aisles and asked members to take their seats.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE: Question came on H 4011 relative to criminal justice reform.

Rep. Cronin said, Madam Chair, that is the wrong bill. It's 4012.

Rep. Haddad said, the chair is in error.

COUNCIL OF STATE GOVERNMENTS REPORT: Question came on H 4012 implementing the joint recommendations of the Massachusetts criminal justice review.

Rep. Cronin said, I rise in support of H 4012 to implement the joint recommendations of the criminal justice review. I would particularly like to thank you, Mr. Speaker, for your leadership. How do we get to where we are today? Through the leadership of the speaker, the Senate president, the governor and the chief justice, we sought the help of the Council of State Governments to use a data-driven approach to reduce recidivism. The group worked over a period of 18 months and I want to thank them for their work and dedication. The legislation before us is a result of this string bipartisan effort. It will ensure we are investing wisely to increase public safety by reducing recidivism. One of our greatest challenges is the great number of people who leave our correctional facilities and are re-arrested, re-convicted or re-incarcerated. The things people need to succeed after incarceration are supportive supervision and participation in programming. This increases incentives for participation in programming and expands the number of inmates eligible for that programming. We will also reduce the number of people held pre-trial by utilizing our community correction centers. They will have opportunities for programming that previously did not exist. CSG said this bill will help reduce recidivism in Massachusetts by up to 15 percent over the next six years. Later today we will address further reforms, but for now I urge you to join me in supporting this legislation.

Rep. Cronin asked for a roll call vote. There was sufficient support.

BY A ROLL CALL VOTE OF 151-0 the bill was ENGROSSED. Time was 1:23 p.m.

RECESS/RETURN: The House recessed at 1:23 p.m. The House returned to order at 1:27 p.m. for Reps. Wagner and DuBois to be recorded on previous roll calls and then recessed again at 1:28 p.m. The House returned to order at 1:53 p.m.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE: The question came on engrossing H 4011 relative to criminal justice reform.

Rep. Cronin said, Thank you. I rise in support of this bill but before I begin I want to thank you, Mr. Speaker, for your unwavering support. I personally met with and had discussion with more than 100 members as we worked to craft this bill. This was a strong bipartisan effort. Why should we undertake criminal justice reform? The answer is very clear: because we know criminal justice reform will reduce recidivism, we know it will increase public safety and we know it will provide significant cost savings to the taxpayer. This legislation addresses our system from the earliest point someone makes contact with the system right up to the time an individual re-enters society. It all begins with our children. We know the earlier a child become involved, the more likely that child will remain in the system through his or her life. We recognize the indisputable link between the support our youngest and most vulnerable children receive and their life later on. So this bill forms a commission to study how children who experienced trauma can be provided services. We increase the age of criminal responsibility from 7 to 10, decriminalize some low-level offenses and increase opportunities for diversion. We recognize that children and young adults make mistakes, so we create a mechanism to expunge certain offenses for our juveniles and young adults up to 21. We also allow expungement for adults in some circumstances, including marijuana convictions. A high percentage of individuals in our system are struggling in one way or another. For the first time, we require district attorneys to create diversion for those with mental health, addiction or veterans. We eliminate the age requirement for access to diversion programs for first offenders. We would be remiss for not encouraging people to get the help they need. We have reformed our bail system to ensure no one is incarcerated solely because they can't make bail. In the same regard we have reformed our fines and fees system. We have also created a commission to study the ability of a defendant to pay fines and fees and establish a portal to access tax returns when determining a defendant's ability to pay. We have eliminated some mandatory minimum sentences for certain low-level drug offenses, but we are in the midst of an opioid epidemic and we are presented with new drugs, fentanyl and carfentanil, so potent that even the tiniest amount is deadly. We move both into the Class A category and strengthen penalties for those who seek to profit off the misery of others. We will have the strongest carfentanil law in the country. For those in our prison system, we recognize that our corrections officers must have the tools to ensure the safety of those individuals in the system, employees and prisoners alike. But solitary confinement can have negative consequences for the individual and public safety, so we set forth limitations for its use and create a review board and oversight committee. We also preclude the use of segregation for pregnant women and juveniles. We have created a mechanism for compassionate medical release for prisoners who pose no safety risk. CSG made a strong recommendation that we standardize our data reporting, so we are reforming the way in which we compile and report data. As we move forward, we must never forget victims or the need for public safety. To that end, we have increased the efficiency of collecting DNA samples for the DNA database. We expect many unsolved rapes and murders will be solved as a result. We also establish a commission to study our crime lab, to make recommendations on the management of the crime lab and to evaluate its capabilities. Knowing many families have been hurt by the crime of operating under the influence, we have strengthened our current law and created new and separate offenses with increased penalties for 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th offenses. This bill is comprehensive but it is also workable. It is smart on crime and it is fiscally sound. These meaningful and commonsense reforms will make us a stronger and safer commonwealth. Thank you.

Rep. Cronin asked for a roll call vote. There was sufficient support.

Rep. Sanchez said, I stand here in support of the bill before us today. The CSG bill is going to touch upon and set the stage for us to make sure our criminal justice system is focused on the individual and not just broad policies. We now stand and we have before us another bill that was put together by one of the most committed individuals, the lady from Brockton put her heart and soul into the work of the CSG group and making sure she listened to each of you and your concerns and hopes to make sure the bill before us has so many of the ideas and experiences of all of our collective constituencies. I am so proud to have worked with her and you, Mr. Speaker. We also had Chief Justice Ireland working with us, he has focused his life on juvenile justice here in the commonwealth and beyond. Having him in the room to provide a perspective, not as someone who sat as a chief justice but also a man of color from the commonwealth was incredible. While I was in the room engaged in the conversations, I felt like that show "This is Your Life" because we talked about so many things people go through in their own lives and I felt like I see a lot of those people we talked about and myself and our own childhood friends who have felt the impact of an unbalanced criminal justice system. There are a lot of folks who made mistakes in their lives and they continue to serve time. I've also learned and seen firsthand that unfortunately, the drugs that are permeating our streets right now are hand in hand with the gun violence that happens in our communities. Many who deal drugs like heroin and immediate death drugs like fentanyl also cause a significant amount of violence in our communities. They do so with their deadly product and with their guns. The violence happens every day. Last week a 16-year-old boy who used to do work with us in our community center in a housing project in my district was gunned down in his own community. The day after that, while the mayor was making an investment at a community youth center, shots fired again. And then the day after that. At the same time, I know there are people trying to turn their lives around and that there are people and organizations working to prevent youth violence. All of you stood up in our supplemental budget discussions relative to Safe and Successful Youth Initiative monies. "These bills are all about balance. How do we make sure that we ensure the public safety of the commonwealth and also help those in the criminal justice system who want to turn their life around? We do this through a number of practical and extremely progressive policies." We allow for people to say they have no record when applying for housing. People leaving prison have an unemployment rate 50 percent higher than the general public. The sooner offenders find employment, the less likely they are to commit additional crimes. being able to seal your CORI is a gamechanger. It means the person whose only crime was having a nickelbag in their pocket or lifting a pair of shoes in high school can apply for a job and say they have no record. We create a process for expungement. This gives the opportunity to erase any record of a crime in certain circumstances. Because there are a lot of examples of people making makes mistakes when they are young, we create a way for that charge to be expunged after 10 years. It also allows for offenses that are no longer crimes, such as the possession of marijuana. Expungement will help people access jobs, training, and housing. We also reform the bail system requiring the defendant's financial resources be taken into consideration when determining bail. Remember: 79 percent of the criminal justice system have repeat offenders. This bill will help break the cycle of incarceration. It is a monumental effort on behalf of all of us in this chamber today. To the folks in the building: we heard you, we hear you. At the same time, victims: we hear you too. I'd also like to thank the House members of the Black and Latino Caucus. Unfortunately that demographic, black and Latinos, comprise 52 percent of the state's prison population. BY working together we have identified defined areas where this bill will improve the lives of so many people we represent. We have been talking about these for a long time. There are over 17 sections or categories to this bill, not including the CSG bill. Thank you.This bill reforms the criminal justice system so if people want to change their lives, they are going to be able to. We can help people get on their feet and break the cycle of incarceration. Thank you.

RECESS: The House recessed at 2:20 p.m.

At 3:01 p.m. Rep. Cantwell spoke to the clerk while Rep. Haddad sat with Reps. Brodeur and O'Day on the rostrum.

Rep. Cronin stood at the rear of the fourth division at 3:33 p.m. before making her way to the second division, where she spoke wtih Rep. Connolly.

By 4 p.m., 12 of the original 212 amendments had been withdrawn, without floor discussion.

At 4:20 p.m., a photographer took a picture on the rostrum of Reps. Haddad, Walsh, Gentile and Lewis with Yvonne Spicer, the mayor-elect of Framingham.

At 4:23 p.m., Rep. Cronin spoke with Rep. Barber in the well before the two ventured to the fourth division, where they sat and talked. An aide to Speaker DeLeo emerged from the speaker's office with containers of amendments and delivered them to the clerk's desk.

RETURN: The House returned to order at 4:26 p.m.

GUEST: Rep. Haddad introduced Yvonne Spicer, the first mayor-elect of Framingham. Rep. Haddad said she is the first woman of color elected as mayor in Massachusetts history.

Members, staff and guests rose to applaud Mayor-elect Spicer.

Mayor-elect Spicer said, I sincerely appreciate the opportunity to lead my wonderful city of 32 years into our next phase of being a city. I have had a tremendous amount of support in the community, 59 percent of the vote feels pretty good. There is more great work to come in Framingham. I am looking forward to working with my legislative team. You cannot go wrong with this team. I would be remiss if I didn't mention Sen. Spilka, too. I am excited and looking forward to January.

A court officer took pictures of representatives posing with Mayor-elect Spicer at the podium in the well.

RECESS: Though there was no announcement, the House effectively stood in recess at 4:30 p.m.

RETURN: The House returned to order at 5:48 p.m.

BARBER AMENDMENT 162 -- Justice-Involved Women Policy Review Panel   

Rep. Barber said, I rise in support of this amendment. I also want to thank the speaker for prioritizing reforms that will have an impact on so many people in our commonwealth. This bill is going to have a direct impact on women in the commonwealth. They are a small but fastest growing portion of our incarcerated population. Justice-involved women have often committed lower-level crimes and have high rates of substance abuse and mental illness and an estimated two-thirds of them are mothers. A number of provisions in the bill improve conditions for women. Changes to the bail system, reducing fines and fees and restorative justice. This amendment ensures the policy changes in the bill will be implemented in a manner that most benefits women in the justice system. It is an important start to make sure there is a focus on justice-involved women in Massachusetts. We will bring together state agencies and stakeholders to review policies that will have positive impacts on women.

Rep. Barber asked for a roll call vote. There was sufficient support.

BY A ROLL CALL VOTE OF 151-0, the amendment was ADOPTED. Time was 5:58 p.m.

JONES AMENDMENT 127 -- Detention Request

A representative said he believes the amendment is beyond the scope.

Rep. Haddad said, The chair will rule that the amendment before us would expand upon the bill before us and therefore is beyond the scope. It will be laid aside.

Rep. Jones doubted the ruling of the chair. There was a second.

Question came on whether the decision of the chair shall stand.

Rep. Lyons said, Thank you. I rise in objection to the ruling of the chair, which basically is ruling out of order an amendment that would have addressed what the Supreme Court did last April in restricting local law enforcement's ability to work with ICE on civil detainers. This particular bill talks about all kinds of drug-related problems. And in Massachusetts, as everybody knows we have a serious drug problem and the fact that we cannot address this issue in a crime bill totally escapes me. Recently in one of my communities, Tewksbury, there was an arrest for sale of opiates and fentanyl and all of the people involved were illegal immigrants. 75 percents of drug possessions according to the US Commission on Sentencing were related to illegal immigrants in our country. Every one of us is concerned about the opiate epidemic but to take away one of the important tools we have makes no sense. In Chelsea, a couple of weeks back, there was a major arrest and it said about 80 percent of the people selling fentanyl in that city are illegal immigrants. Why we would want to take this tool away is incredible. Since 2011 the number of opiate deaths has gone from 675 to 2,100. To 2,100. We can trace those drugs and those drug traffickers to illegal immigrants and we ought to make sure that we give our law enforcement officers the tools necessary to protect our families and the fact that this Legislature does not want to take this up today is astounding.

Time was 6:10 p.m.

Rep. Cronin offered a further amendment in the hands of the clerk.  Rep. Haddad asked the clerk to read the amendment.  Rep. Lombardo rose in his seat and requested a point of order.

Rep. Lombardo said I believe the question before the house is shall the decision of the chair stand?  Would not a further amendment be out of order?

Rep. Haddad said The gentleman is correct.  The further amendment is out of order.

Rep. Jones requested a roll call vote.  There was support.

RULING OF CHAIR STANDS:  By a ROLL CALL VOTE of 118-34, ruling of the chair stood as the judgement of the House.  Time was 6:14 p.m.

LYONS AMENDMENT 23 - Penalty for heroine trafficking resulting in a death

Rep. Cronin offered a further amendment.  Clerk began reading the amendment while numerous conversations took place in the chamber.

Rep. Hill stood at 6:17 p.m. and said I'm not exactly sure what the original amendment does, and I certainly cannot hear what the further amendment is trying to do to the original amendment.

Rep. Haddad asked the clerk to repeat the further amendment.

The further amendment stated provisions of Section XX shall not take effect until the Executive Office for Administration and Finance, in conjunction with the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security, has furnished to the Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security a study of the legislation's impact on public safety and its impact on the economy of the commonwealth and its municipalities,  including but not limited to a distributional analysis of the impact to taxpayers of varying income levels, the current practice of other states, anticipated changes in employment levels and other ancillary economic activity.

Further amendment was ADOPTED.

Rep. Barrows doubted the vote.  There was support for a roll call vote.

By a ROLL CALL VOTE of 117-36, Cronin further amendment ADOPTED.

Underlying Lyons Amendment 23 was ADOPTED as amended.  Time was 6:21 p.m.  Democrats Reps. Dwyer, Garry, and Zlotnik joined Republicans voting against.  Unenrolled Rep. Whipps voted in favor.

KEEFE AMENDMENT 198 - Fee for Counsel in "Fine Time" Proceedings

Amendment ADOPTED.

CAMPBELL AMENDMENT 208 - Length of Solitary Confinement for Prisoners with Serious Mental Illness

Amendment ADOPTED.

CAPITAL IMPROVEMENT BOND BILL:  The House adopted a Ways and Means amendment substituting a bill (H 4018) for the residue of H 3968 providing for immediate capital improvement needs of the Commonwealth.  A portion of H 3968 was previously reported as H 4015.  The House ordered the bill to third reading as amended.  Time was 6:35 p.m.

RECESS:  On a Rep. Cronin motion at 6:36 p.m. the House recessed 'til Tuesday at 12 p.m.

DISCLAIMER: Bill texts and histories are available at www.malegislature.gov. All votes are voice votes, unless otherwise noted. Bills ordered to third reading have been given initial approval. To engross a bill is to pass it and send it to the other branch. The last of three votes taken on bills that reach the governor's desk is the vote on enactment. So, it's third reading (initial approval), engrossment (passage) and enactment. The News Service coverage of legislative debate is an accurate summary of remarks, not a verbatim transcript.


State House News Service