SENATE SESSION – THURSDAY, OCT. 12, 2017
Ahead of expected votes Thursday afternoon on a closeout fiscal 2017 spending bill, veto overrides and handicapped parking legislation, the Senate met for about four minutes sending the governor four local bills. One of the bills enacted, H 3788, would grant the town of Peabody an additional 20 on-premises liquor licenses. The Senate recessed until 1 p.m.
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Sen. Tarr entered the chamber at 11:04 a.m. and Sen. Rodrigues took the rostrum.
CONVENES: The Senate convened at 11:07 a.m. with Sen. Rodrigues presiding.
PLEDGE: Members and guests stood and recited the Pledge of Allegiance.
WEST NEWBURY TOWN MANAGER: The Senate enacted S 2161 establishing a town manager in the town of West Newbury.
WHATELY FIREFIGHTER: The Senate enacted authorizing the town of Whately to continue the employment of John Lasalle as a call firefighter.
MILFORD LIQUOR LICENSE: The Senate enacted H 3842 authorizing the town of Milford to grant one additional license for the sale of all alcoholic beverages to be drunk on the premises.
PEABODY LIQUOR LICENSES: The Senate enacted H 3788 authorizing the city of Peabody to grant 20 additional licenses for the sale of all alcoholic beverages to be drunk on the premises.
EAST BOSTON HOUSING: The Senate ordered to a third reading H 2243 relative to certain affordable housing in the East Boston section of the city of Boston.
BOSTON PUBLIC LIBRARY: The Senate ordered to a third reading H 3862 further regulating the appointment of trustees of the public library of the city of Boston.
REVERE - MONEY: The Senate ordered to a third reading H 3876 authorizing Revere to pay a certain sum of money to Juanita A. Haas (Brandariz
CONCORD - CHARTER: The Senate ordered to a third reading H 3930 to amend the town charter of Concord.
RECESS: Sen. Rodrigues called a recess to 1 p.m. Time was 11:11 a.m.
Question came on a Ways and Means amendment to S 2099 relative to handicapped parking.
Sen. Ross asked for a Republican caucus for 15 minutes.
President Rosenberg said, Under the rules the request must be made by the leader himself so that cannot be granted at this time, but the Senate will be in a very brief recess.
Sen. Ross said, I am rising to request the gentlelady to explain the purpose of this bill. Time was 1:23 p.m.
Sen. Donoghue said, Parking placards allow people with disabilities accessible places to park. An IG report revealed rampant abuse. Some people unjustly claim reserved spaces. The IG identified more than 300 cars that parked in downtown Boston using placards issued to other people. Many went to people who had since died. I filed this to reform the efforts to preserve accessibility for those who depend on it. I want to thank the committees on Transportation and Ways and Means for improving the bill. It would be a citable offense under state law. It would strengthen license suspension for misusing a placard. Fines of $500 for first offense and $1,000 for subsequent offenses. It creates a $100 fine for those who don't return a canceled placard. And imprisonment for those who illegally distribute placards. It prevents people from disabilities from finding accessible parking. This strengthens the laws of the Commonwealth.
Sen. Donoghue asked for a roll call vote on engrossment. There was support.
BARRETT AMENDMENT #1: The Senate adopted a redrafted amendment titled Operating with Accessible Parking Placard.
ROSS AMENDMENT #4: State Vehicles
Sen. Ross said, I want to thank the gentlelady from Lowell for offering this bill. I think many of us have tried to address these issues. I ask for your support on this amendment. A constituent's son, a resident of DDS group home, have trouble obtaining placards for drivers. Current law and RMV regulations require that for a state agency vehicle to use a placard, the agency name must be displayed. But DDS refrains from that to prevent stigmatization. Wrongful use would result in loss of license for 30 days. This change would serve the clients of DDS.
The redrafted amendment was ADOPTED
JEHLEN AMENDMENT #5: Timely decisions for placards
Sen. Jehlen said, This would begin to hold RMV accountable for issuing placards in a timely manner. A constituent applied for one and was told there was a two-month delay. There was then another delay. That seemed extreme. The registry said there was no reason that should happen. The registry made it happen four days after we called them. We want them to post information on how many applications are filed and how quickly they are issued.
The redrafted amendment was ADOPTED
TARR AMENDMENT #6: Due Process
Sen. Tarr said, I want to compliment you on a muted purple tie. I realize it is intended to be autumnal. The pending amendment seeks due process about eligibility decisions. If someone got an adverse decision, there would be a process of notice and an opportunity to be heard. Well there are provisions in the existing general laws. I would like to withdraw the pending amendment.
The amendment was withdrawn.
The Ways and Means amendment S 2168 was adopted. The bill was ordered to a third reading.
Question came on engrossing S 2168 relative to handicapped parking.
BY A ROLL CALL VOTE OF 37 to 0 the bill was ENGROSSED. Time was 1:42 p.m.
COMMUNITY BENEFIT DISTRICTS: Question came on H 3823 relative to community benefit districts.
Sen. Donoghue moved that the governor's amendment be rejected.
Sen. Donoghue said, I would urge that the Senate reject the amendment of the governor. This has to do with community benefits district. This is a very important tool. Dozens of communities have signed on in support. It gives an important tool for communities to determine their future in a district. It is less difficult than a bid district. This could benefit so many communities.
Sen. Tarr said, To the gentlelady who reaffirmed her commitment to the Senate, I'm hoping she could tell us what the nature of the veto was so we could understand the divide. I want to know what the governor sent back so we can understand the veto - or amendment.
RECESS: Sen. Donoghue asked for a brief recess. Time was 1:48 p.m.
Sen. Donoghue said, The amendment proffered by the governor essentially created a new bill that was not vetted or heard. It would put a burden on communities trying to create a community benefits district. This bill had a full hearing.
Sen. Tarr said, I appreciate the explanation. She never comes to the mic without subject-matter expertise. If the benchmark is that anything that didn't have a hearing get rejected in the budget, we wouldn't have much left.
The governor's amendment was rejected.
Sen. Tarr doubted the vote and asked for a roll call. There was support.
BY A ROLL CALL VOTE OF 30 to 7 the governor's amendment was REJECTED
Sen. Tarr said, Your clairvoyance never ceases to amaze me. You anticipated I would arise and ask for a Republican caucus until 2:15. I do in fact rise for that purpose.
President Rosenberg said, It will be a joint caucus in the president's office on a very important matter.
After the Senate cleared out for the caucus, President Rosenberg ascended the rostrum at 3:21 p.m.
At 4:11 p.m., President Rosenberg called Sens. Rodrigues and Creem to the rostrum where they conferred with Sens. Tarr and Spilka.
President Rosenberg gaveled the session back to order at 4:17 p.m.
BOYLSTON: Question came on H 1120 authorizing the town of Boylston to convey a portion of a certain parcel of land.
President Rosenberg opened a roll call vote on enactment.
BY A ROLL CALL VOTE OF 37 to 0 the bill was ENACTED
President Rosenberg asked members to approach the rostrum. Time was 4:23 p.m.
Members huddled around the rostrum in the Gardner Auditorium while the Senate president quietly addressed them. At 4:28 p.m. most senators returned to the aisles and their seats while Rosenberg carried on discussion with Sens. Moore, Forry, Tarr, Creem and Spilka.
CLOSEOUT BUDGET: Question came on S 2177, reported in part from H 3951 making appropriations for the fiscal year 2017 to provide for supplementing certain existing appropriations and for certain other activities and projects. The fiscal note was $85,317,026.
TARR AMENDMENT #1: Early Voting
RECESS: Sen. Tarr asked for a brief recess. Time was 4:32 p.m.
Sen. Tarr said, How wonderful it is to be rejoined in our satellite chamber. Before us is an amendment to the deficiency budget, which would allow us to fulfill our commitment to cities and towns about early voting. We've required early voting. It is a worthy enterprise, but without an amendment like this it is an unfunded mandate. This requires us to fulfill our commitment if we believe in early voting. We should provide the funding.
Sen. Tarr asked for a roll call. There was support.
Sen. Spilka said, This amendment provides $486,000 for early voting in fiscal 2018. We were proud of the smooth rollout in the November 2016 elections with over 1 million people participating. We strongly support the importance of adequately supporting cities and towns in this endeavor. However, this is a deficiency budget. This is closing out fiscal 2017. We are not adding 2018 funding to this. We are making sure we can afford what we include here and we are not going overboard. This is not a supplemental 2018 budget. So I'm asking folks to please vote no. If people think we need it, there will be a 2018 supplemental budget.
Sen. Tarr said, I commend the committee on narrowly focusing this spending document, particularly compared with what we received. We're trying to wrap up some loose ends in this matter. I respect the desire for fiscal discipline. But this will cause a deficiency for cities and towns.
BY A ROLL CALL VOTE OF 9 to 28 the amendment was REJECTED
L'ITALIEN AMENDMENT #3: Insurance Coverage for Dependents Over Age 26 With Disabilities Technical Fix
Sen. L'Italien said, This would fix a mistake that was made regarding families who have a child over the age of 26 who was carried on their family's plan. There is a health insurance agency in western Massachusetts, which is not allowing families to have this coverage. One health insurance company is using a loophole to deny coverage to families who have a child over the age of 26 who would not be able to afford health insurance coverage... It's my understanding we will not be voting on this today, but I wanted to bring it to everyone's attention.
Sen. L'Italien asked to withdraw the amendment. There was no objection.
KEENAN AMENDMENT #4: The Senate rejected an amendment titled special Education Circuit Breaker
MOORE AMENDMENT #6: The Senate rejected an amendment titled Item Pricing
GOBI AMENDMENT #7: Early Voting
Sen. Gobi said, Thank you. This will sound very familiar. This is also for reimbursements to communities for early voting Nov. 8, 2016. I don't have a lot of great hope on this, but I want to work with Ways and Means chairlady to reimburse cities and towns.
Sen. Gobi withdrew the amendment.
TARR AMENDMENT #8: The Senate rejected an amendment titled Public Service and Commissioned Veterans
TARR AMENDMENT #11: The Senate rejected an amendment titled Organizational Transformation Reserve
CREEM AMENDMENT #5: Rapid Fire Firearms
RECESS: Sen. Tarr asked for a brief recess. Time was 4:46 p.m.
Sen. Creem said, So we're not going to call? Thank you Mr. President. All of us were united in horror by the latest shooting in Las Vegas. We've experienced horror before. We've also had to learn a new term - bump stocks. Obviously the bump stock modification makes guns even more deadly. Lives might have been saved if this was not available to the shooter. Many people support the bump stock ban and that's a good thing. This provides clear definition of bump stock and trigger crank, which allows semiautomatic weapons to fire like a machine gun, and it treats them like machine guns. Unless you're law enforcement, training law enforcement or a highly regulated collector, you cannot have these, with penalties of up to life. These would be illegal immediately and would need to be disposed of in 90 days. I filed a stronger gun control bill, but I think that will be taken up at a later date. "We need to act quickly on the new information we now have." I urge unanimous support of this item.
Sen. Tarr said, Protecting public safety and the integrity of our laws should never be partisan. And today we've worked for ours to work to address this. I want to thank the gentleman from Fall River, the gentleman from Western Mass., the gentlelady who took her seat and the gentlelady from Ways and Means. This was not in the mindset or vocabulary of most people in Massachusetts before the horrific events in Las Vegas. Now that we have that knowledge, it's our obligation to act. I would be the first to suggest that we ought not pursue this issue as an amendment to a spending document, that it needs a public hearing so it can be vetted with the benefit of information from the public. I know today that is not going to happen. But I also know I filed legislation about this, which has many co-sponsors. Through the good work of the gentleman from New Bedford that bill is going to be facilitated and get a public hearing. Were that not the case, I would not utter the following words. I hope the hearing inspires a vigorous discussion. In the wake of the tragedy we know we need to take some action. Our bill forms the basis of the amendment pending. It is very straightforward. It says we have a licensure law that restricts if not entirely prohibits a machine gun. There are two devices not specifically referenced in that law. One is the bump stock. The other is a trigger crank. The definitions are calculated to ensure that if it possesses those traits and you don't have a license you are violating the law. People have suggested we punish that severely. Unlike other proposals, the imprisonment term is between 18 months and life. This provides a strict penalty. This requires that all lawful gunowners are notified, and it provides a delayed effective date so folks can either come into compliance or detach themselves from possession of that device. Through the afternoon there was discussion about the manufacturers. One provision was to notify manufacturers they shouldn't ship these devices to Massachusetts. That is what we can do and what we do. This needs more engagement and more due process, but if we are summoned to act today this is a balanced amendment to respond to people who try to circumvent our laws. If you are not properly licensed you better not possess one of these devices.
Sen. Tarr asked for a standing vote. There was support.
BY A 33 to 0 STANDING VOTE the amendment was ADOPTED
Sen. Eldridge said, I doubt the vote and asked for a roll call. There was support.
President Rosenberg opened the roll call and voted yes.
BY A ROLL CALL VOTE OF 38 to 0 the amendment was ADOPTED
Sen. L'Italien said, Last week when I stood before you to offer our collective condolences on behalf of Rhonda LaRocque, I said I hoped we'd do more. I am grateful to everyone who worked on this collaboratively. On Saturday morning I'm going to go to the memorial service of this beautiful young lady. I can look the family in the eye and say we in the Senate have tried to do right by their family and tried to prevent future mass shootings.
Sen. Moore said, I want to thank the body for the vote we just took. We all know the tragedy that took place in Nevada. I think we should be proud we are one of the first or the first to respond as one body. It's not Democrat or Republican. I want to thank Sens. Creem, Tarr, Rodrigues, the Second Amendment advocates and police chiefs.
TARR AMENDMENT #10: Substance Use Disorder Services
Sen. Tarr said, Folks in this chamber have labored long and hard to try to combat the scourge of opiate abuse. That has set the stage for positive developments to leverage federal funding. This creates the budget infrastructure to receive as much as $30 million. The ability to capture those dollars is dependent on the passage of this amendment.
The amendment was ADOPTED
President Rosenberg said, There will be no more controversial matters after roll call on the main question.
TARR AMENDMENT #9: Gaming Casino Employee Registration Requirements
Sen. Tarr said, There are provisions in some documents about allowing the gaming commission to allow exemption of required vetting. This would require reporting on that.
The redrafted amendment was ADOPTED
The bill was ordered to a third reading.
Question came on passing the bill to be engrossed.
Sen. Spilka asked for a roll call. There was support.
President Rosenberg voted yes.
BY A ROLL CALL VOTE OF 38 to 0 the bill was ENGROSSED
LOUIS REMIGIO: Sens. Jehlen and L'Italien moved to adjourn in memory of Louis Remigio, a Somerville police officer who lived in Tewksbury.
Sen. L'Italien said, Officer Remigio died tragically Monday after being involved in a motor vehicle accident in New Hampshire. He received multiple awards for service, including two life-saving awards.
Sen. Jehlen said, He was the beloved husband of the late Amy Lynn Andrews, loving son of the late Manuel and Francisca Remigio. He is survived by siblings, nieces and nephews, and numerous devoted fellow officers. He was a member of the Law Keepers Motorcycle Club. He was known for his empathy on- and off-duty.
The motion was adopted.
MOMENT OF SILENCE: The Senate observed a moment of silence at 5:19 p.m.
SICK LEAVE: The Senate ordered to a third reading and engrossed H 3877 establishing a sick leave bank for Lornece Tull, an employee of the Department of Correction
RAPID FIRE FIREARMS: The Senate referred to the Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security a Sen. Tarr petition SD 2348 for legislation to prevent illegal possession of rapid fire firearms.
ADJOURNMENT ORDER: The Senate adopted an order to meet again Monday at 11 a.m. without a calendar.
ADJOURNS: The Senate adjourned at 5:22 p.m. to meet again Monday at 11 a.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.