Beacon Hill Roll Call


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Beacon Hill Roll Call

Volume 49 - Report No. 15

April 8-12, 2024

Copyright © 2024 Beacon Hill Roll Call. All Rights Reserved.

By Bob Katzen

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THE HOUSE AND SENATE: Beacon Hill Roll Call records local senators' votes on a roll call from the week of April 8-12. There were no roll calls in the House last week.


Senate 39-0. approved a bill that includes authorizing $200 million in one-time funding for the maintenance and repair of local roads and bridges in cities and towns across the state. The $375 million package, a bond bill under which the funding would be borrowed by the state through the sale of bonds, also includes $175 million for several transportation-related grant programs. The House has already approved the bill and only final House and Senate passage are necessary before the measure goes to Gov. Healey for her signature.

The programs funded by the $175 million include the municipal small bridge program; the complete streets program; a bus transit infrastructure program; and grants for municipalities to purchase electric vehicles and the infrastructure needed to support them.

“The annual authorization of the Chapter 90 program provides cities and towns wit the state funding they need to most effectively address their transportation infrastructure needs,” said Sen. Brendan Crighton (D-Lynn), Senate Chair of the Committee on Transportation. “This $375 million total investment in both Chapter 90 and additional grant opportunities funds tangible improvements across our entire transportation network—including roads, bridges, access to mass transit and sidewalks.”

“Getting around our communities is a fundamental part of everyone’s day,” said Senate President Karen Spilka (D-Ashland). “Whether the commute takes you on the sidewalk, through a bike lane, across a small bridge, onto your Regional Transit Authority or to the T, your journey should be quick and safe. By passing today’s legislation, we are empowering our cities and towns with the funding to make improvements to the infrastructure our residents travel on, regardless of where they go and how.”

“Our transportation infrastructure is so vitally important to the state’s economy and this Chapter 90 funding addresses many outstanding issues in keeping the commonwealth’s and public transportation system in peak operating condition,” said Sen. Mike Rodrigues (D-Westport), Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. “I’m pleased that over $375 million has been allocated to municipal roadways, local streetscape improvements and enhancements to our mass transit system,”

We’re grateful to see the House and Senate swiftly pass the Chapter 90 bond bill with key investments in municipal roads and bridges,” said Adam Chapdelaine, CEO of the Mass Municipal Association. “This quick action was essential with the construction season already underway. This year, we'll again be advocating for the Legislature to supplement these programs through dedicated funding via the new state surtax. Last year, supplemental Chapter 90 aid via the surtax provided an additional $100 million for the 30,000 miles of municipal roads, which went to great use in communities all across the commonwealth."

(A “Yes” vote is for the $375 million package.)

Sen. Rebecca Rausch Yes Sen. Karen Spilka President rarely votes


HOUSE WAYS AND MEANS COMMITTEE PROPOSES $57.9 BILLION FISCAL 2025 STATE BUDGET – The House fired the second shot in the long battle over the state budget for fiscal year 2025 that begins on July 1. Gov. Maura Healey fired the opening volley in January when she filed her version of the spending package. The House Ways and Means Committee last week unveiled its own $57.9 billion version. It increases spending by $1.9 billion, or 3.3 percent, over the current fiscal year 2024 budget. Debate on the House version is scheduled to begin soon.

After the full House approves a version of the package, the Senate will follow suit with its own draft, and a House-Senate conference committee will eventually craft a plan that will be presented to the House and Senate for consideration and sent to the governor.

TRAFFIC STOPS FOR PERSONS WITH AUTISM – The state announced the implementation of the “Blue Envelope Program,” designed to improve interactions between police officers and persons with autism spectrum disorder during traffic stops. The voluntary program provides individuals on the autism spectrum with specially designed blue envelopes to carry their driver’s licenses; vehicle registration; and a contact card which informs police officers about their diagnosis and other essential communication guidelines to ensure more effective and sensitive communication during the interaction.

In addition, information printed on the envelope’s exterior identifies the operator as a person with autism spectrum disorder, provides instructions for a police officer on how to enhance communication with the driver; and how to reduce anxiety and stress the driver may be experiencing as a result of being stopped or involved in an incident. The envelope also lists guidelines for the driver, including what to expect during a traffic stop, and how to present the Blue Envelope to the officer.

“In honor of Autism Acceptance Month, the Blue Envelope Program reflects our deep commitment to supporting programs that strengthen inclusivity and support law enforcement’s ability to more effectively meet the needs of every community member,” said Gov. Maura Healey. “We’re grateful for the collaboration of our partners who brought this important public safety program to fruition.”

“This new program provides an essential tool to enhance communication between police officers and drivers with autism while helping officers to recognize possible behaviors and more effectively engage individuals during traffic stops, motor vehicle accidents or mechanical breakdowns,” said Public Safety and Security Secretary Terrence Reidy.

More information about the Blue Envelope Program, including how to request an envelope online and how to prepare, carry and display them, is available at…-.

Blue envelopes are available at all Massachusetts State Police Barracks. And will soon be available at local police departments.

MUST NOTIFY OWNER OF GAS OR ELECTRIC SHUTOFFS (H 1370) – The House gave initial approval to legislation that would require gas and electric companies to contact landlords within 14 days of a tenant’s bill becoming past due.

Supporters said the bill would allow for third party notifications as an extra measure of protection against having their gas or electric service shut off. Utility companies would be required to contact landlords within 14 days of a tenant’s bill becoming past due. And if a tenant is out of town or overlooks the notice, the landlord will be notified and can give rectify the situation to protect their property from any damage due to a cessation of service.

“The purpose of this bill is to notify homeowners, particularly landlords, about a potential shut-off,” said sponsor Rep. Jeff Roy (D-Franklin). “Currently, only the customer of record is given notice, which makes a landlord vulnerable to cessation of services which may harm their real property.”

LOWER INTEREST RATE ON PROPERTY TAXES DEFERRED BY SENIORS (H 2919) – The House gave initial approval to a bill which would lower the current flat 16 percent interest rate on property taxes that are deferred under the Senior Citizen Property Tax Deferral Program, which defers payment until the senior sells the property or passes away. The bill would lower the rate to the prime rate plus 2 percent. The current prime rate is 8.5 percent which would result in a 10.5 percent interest rate.

“This legislation establishes more reasonable interest rates on the property taxes deferred under the senior citizen property tax deferral program, enabling more senior citizens to take advantage of the program and freeing up money for important items such as medication, housing expenses and health care,” said sponsor Rep. Alice Peisch (D-Wellesley).

OFFICIAL STATE JAZZ SONG (H 3105) – The House gave initial approval to a measure that would make the song “Massachusetts” the state’s official jazz song.

Sponsor Rep. Orlando Ramos (D-Springfield) did not respond to repeated requests by Beacon Hill Roll Call to comment on his bill and its passage.


“We are grateful for the many Department of Mental Health (DMH) providers who provide compassionate care for individuals experiencing serious and persistent mental illness each day. The MA Repay program is a way to show our gratitude and commitment to the work that people are doing day after day.”

---Executive Office of Health and Human Services Secretary Kate Walsh on the state awarding $10 million in student loan repayment to 221 DMH direct care staff and clinicians across the state.

“Supporting our performing arts centers is a strategic investment in the vitality of our communities. These organizations serve as hubs of creativity, offering transformative experiences that entertain, educate and inspire audiences of all ages. By supporting these institutions, we not only preserve our cultural heritage but also foster innovation, economic growth and social cohesion, ensuring a vibrant and enriching future for generations to come.”

---Michael Bobbitt, Executive Director, of the Mass Cultural Council announcing $3.6 million being awarded to 58 performing arts centers across the Bay State.

“Massachusetts has the best sports fans in the country. We are dedicated and determined. Especially Red Sox fans like those who continuously added their rallying call to end the curse to this sign. I’m excited to be joining the 2004 championship team, who broke the 86-year-curse for their fans, as we celebrate that history-making win and reunite them with this symbol of their fans who never gave up.”

---Gov. Maura Healey, celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Red Sox winning the 2004 World Series, showing off the famous “Reverse the Curse” road sign. It was originally a road sign that hung off the Longfellow Bridge on Storrow Drive warning drivers of a curve in the road ahead, but was famously repeatedly spray-painted by Red Sox fans to say “Reverse the Curse,” in reference to the alleged curse that plagued the team after the sale of Babe Ruth and prevented them from winning the World Series from 1918 until 2003.

“The Healey administration needs to refocus their priority to save money for the taxpayers of Massachusetts. Spending $300 a night for the emergency shelter program is simply unsustainable for the state of Massachusetts and its taxpayers. The state is struggling to be economically competitive while its spending is soaring. The responsibility falls on our governor to make the hard decisions that result in our taxpayers becoming the number one priority.”

---Paul. Craney, a spokesman for the Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance, in response to The Boston Herald story that said the state is paying up to $300 dollars a night for some of the housing under the emergency shelter program.


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 April 8-12, the House met for a total of one hour and ten minutes and the Senate met for a total of two hours and 31 minutes.

Mon. April 8 House 11:04 a.m. to 11:22 a.m.

Senate 11:07 a.m. to 11:17 a.m.

Tues. April 9 No House session

No Senate session

Wed. April 10 House 11:46 a.m. to 12:07 p.m.

Senate 11:16 a.m. to 11:44 a.m.

Thurs. April 11 House 11:02 a.m. to 11:33 a.m.

Senate 11:10 a.m. to 1:03 p.m.

Fri. April 12 No House session

No Senate session

Bob Katzen welcomes feedback at

Bob founded Beacon Hill Roll Call in 1975 and was inducted into the New England Newspaper and Press Association (NENPA) Hall of Fame in 2019.

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