Beacon Hill Roll Call


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Beacon Hill Roll Call

Volume 49 - Report No. 20

May 13-17, 2024

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

By Bob Katzen

THE HOUSE AND SENATE: Beacon Hill Roll Call records local representatives’ votes on roll calls from the week of May 13-17. There were no roll calls in the Senate last week.

The House gave near unanimous approval to two major bills – one making major investments in information technology (IT) upgrades, and the other aimed at restoring stability to the health care system, bolstering accountability within the industry and controlling health care spending.

Only two representatives voted against the IT bill – Reps. Nick Boldyga (R-Southwick) and Marc Lombardo (R-Billerica). And only Boldyga voted against the health care measure.

Beacon Hill Roll Call asked Boldyga for a quote on why he voted against both bills. “It just feels good to vote the right way on these issues,” he responded.

Beacon Hill Roll Call also asked Lombardo why he voted against the IT proposal. Nancy Cadigan, Lombardo’s chief of staff, echoed Boldyga’s response. “That sums it up. Sounds perfect,” said Cadigan.


House 152-2, approved and sent to the Senate a bill to invest in information technology (IT) upgrades, improvements and new projects across state government. The measure authorizes $1.23 billion in bonded spending and $400 million in anticipated federal funds.

Provisions include $750 million to improve service delivery to the public; $200 million for technology and telecommunications infrastructure improvements and maintenance; $200 million to support the security of the state’s IT Infrastructure; and $250 million for various strategic initiatives, improvements to business intelligence and modernization of governmental functions.

“The [bill] will make state government more accessible and more effective for everyone in Massachusetts by ensuring our IT systems are up-to-date, safe and secure and easy to use,” said Gov. Maura Healey. “This will put Massachusetts in a stronger position to take advantage of new innovations, like applied AI, in ways that benefit our residents, businesses and economy.”

“Ensuring that the commonwealth is investing heavily in our technology infrastructure is critical, as protecting against cybersecurity threats, and enabling state agencies to operate with an increased level of efficiency, are vital aspects of our effort to make Massachusetts more safe, effective, and prepared in a world dominated by increasingly sophisticated technologies,” said House Speaker Ron Mariano (D-Quincy).

“The passage of the [bill] marks a significant milestone in Massachusetts' journey towards technological advancement and growth, promising a safer, more connected future for all residents,” said Rep. Michael Finn (D-West Springfield), House Chair of the Committee on Bonding, Capital Expenditures and State Assets.

(A “Yes” vote is for the bill. A “No” vote is against it.)

Rep. Jeffrey Roy Yes


House 152-2, approved an IT bill consolidated amendment that would add $7.5 million, mostly to fund local projects, to the price tag of the measure.

Amendment supporters said these additional local projects are important to many cities and towns across the state. They argued the amendment would make the bill even better.

Not included in the consolidated amendment was a proposal by Rep. Mike Soter (R-Bellingham), that would ban the use or download of TikTok by public employees on state-owned electronic devices. Since it was not included, the proposal simply died and no further action was taken. Soter could have requested a separate roll call vote on his proposal, but he chose not to do so.

Soter did not respond to repeated requests by Beacon Hill Roll Call asking him to comment on why he filed the proposal and why he didn’t ask for debate and a separate roll call on it.

Most of the decisions on which representatives' proposals are included or not included in the IT bill are made behind closed doors. Of the 59 proposals, many of them were bundled into the single consolidated amendment.

The system works this way: Individual representatives file proposals. All members then pitch their proposals to Democratic leaders who draft a single consolidated amendment that includes some of the individual representatives’ proposals while excluding others.

Supporters of the system say that any representative who sponsored an excluded proposal can bring it to the floor and ask for debate and an up or down vote on the proposal itself. They say this system has worked well for many years.

Opponents say that rarely, if ever, does a member bring his or her proposal to the floor for an up-or-down vote because that is not the way the game is played. It is an “expected tradition” that you accept the fate of your amendment as determined by Democratic leaders.

(A “Yes” vote is for the $7.5 million. A “No” vote is against it.)

Rep. Jeffrey Roy Yes


House 152-1, approved and sent to the Senate a 102-page bill that supporters said aims to “restore stability to the health care system, bolster accountability within the industry, and control health care spending to ensure that everyone in Massachusetts has access to quality, affordable health care.”

According to the State House News Service, the measure “combines reforms intended to avert a repeat of the Steward Health Care crisis with changes designed to boost state oversight of facility expansions and closures, refine cost control tools to better account for fluctuations and increase funding for hospitals that typically serve high shares of low-income patients and people of color.”

"This legislation looks to the past, present and future of health care in the commonwealth,” said Rep. John Lawn (D-Watertown), House chair of the Committee on Health Care Financing. “It closes loopholes and shines a light on blind spots that allowed Steward to exploit Massachusetts patients for profit. It protects and preserves underpaid community hospitals that are the lifeblood of medicine in the commonwealth. And it plans for stable and affordable health care growth moving forward.”

“This bill is the most significant health care market oversight and cost containment legislation in more than a decade and is a continuation of the commonwealth’s long-standing effort to ensure that everyone in Massachusetts has access to quality, affordable health care,” said House Speaker Ron Mariano (D-Quincy).

“This legislation will help stabilize our health care system and ensure accountability from all stakeholders, as we continue to recover from the aftereffects of the pandemic,” said Rep. Aaron Michlewitz (D-Boston), chair of the House Ways and Means Committee. “By strengthening oversight and making much needed reforms, this legislation will not only steady the industry, but will also help control costs for consumers.”

(A “Yes” vote is for the bill. A “No” vote is against it.)

Rep. Jeffrey Roy Yes


RAISE FINE FOR “RIGHT OF WAY” VIOLATIONS (H 3477) – The House gave initial approval to a measure that would raise from $35 to $200 the fine for violating the traffic rule that provides when two vehicles approach or enter an intersection at approximately the same instant, the operator of the vehicle on the left must yield the right-of-way to the vehicle on the right. The proposal also imposes additional penalties and/or license revocation for up to six months for any of these violations that cause death, serious bodily harm or bodily harm.

Sponsor Rep. Steven Xiarhos (R-Barnstable) noted the bill is named “Cecelia's Law” - in memory of Cecelia Finnegan Alldredge of Sagamore who was killed on September 6, 2020, when a car turned in front of her and caused a fatal crash.

“For the past three years, the Massachusetts Motorcycle Association, along with the Finnegan family and myself, have been tirelessly advocating for the passage of a bill aimed at increasing penalties for drivers responsible for accidents like the one that took Cecilia’s life,” said Xiarhos. “With motorcyclist fatalities reaching alarming levels nationwide, it is imperative that we take proactive measures to protect vulnerable road users."

MUNICIPAL LIGHT PLANTS (H 3142) – The House gave initial approval to a bill that would allow the Bay State’s 41 municipal light plants to provide services to other Massachusetts municipal and state plants, and plants in other states. Current law prohibits this practice.

Supporters said the bill will encourage more efficient services such as constructing, maintaining and repairing utility poles and traffic signals across the state and will also enable municipal light plants to sell, rent and lease merchandise.

“This bill will allow for an expansion of services offered by municipal light plants to surrounding communities,” said sponsor Rep. Jay Barrows (R-Mansfield). “This will be good for consumers as it ideally would enable more competitive services to be provided.”

MUST INFORM CUSTOMERS ABOUT INSURANCE AVAILABILITY FOR HEATING OIL SPILLS (H 3686) – The House gave initial approval to a proposal that would require retail companies that sell home heating oil to annually inform all their customers of the opportunity to purchase insurance for heating oil spills.

Current law requires that insurance companies make coverage available for owners but supporters of this bill say that while coverage is available, there are many documented cases of insurance companies

not making owners aware that the coverage is available. They said this often results in homeowners being unaware they do not have insurance coverage until after they experience a liquid fuel tank leak. They noted that the bill will provide an additional layer of customers being informed of the availability of the insurance.

Supporters said that some 100 homeowners experience an oil leak in Massachusetts every year. They noted that leaks can incur costly damage to the residence itself, but under Massachusetts law owners are responsible for environmental cleanup, which can rise to $100,000 or more, to dispose of contaminated soil and mitigate the spread in surrounding areas.

Rep. Michael Day (D-Stoneham), the sponsor of the bill, did not respond to repeated requests by Beacon Hill Roll Call asking him to comment on why he filed the bill and how he feels about its initial approval.


“It is an honor to be named the most sustainable state in the nation. State and local partnerships like the Green Communities program have propelled clean energy innovation across Massachusetts. We are grateful for the hard work being done by our cities and towns to address climate change and protect public health. Local action is vital to reducing Massachusetts’ carbon emissions.”

---Lt. Gov. Kim Driscoll reacting to Forbes Magazine ranking Massachusetts as the most environmentally-friendly state in the nation.

“Every day we offer shelter, services and support with funding that doesn’t come close to the need. Our state has been a national leader in the fight to end homelessness and we are here today because we intend to continue to lead. But we need the resources to do it.”

--- Lifebridge North Shore Vice President of Advocacy and Community Relations Gary Barrett advocating for funding for homeless programs, as members of the statewide Coalition for Homeless Individuals lobbied legislators on Beacon Hill for increased funding for homeless programs.

"We are wholeheartedly dedicated to empowering our servicemembers, veterans and their families with comprehensive support across Massachusetts. This funding strengthens the backbone of our veteran community by expanding crucial peer support networks and broadening our suicide prevention efforts, ensuring that we meet the evolving needs of our veterans with precision and compassion.”

--- Jon Santiago, Secretary of Veterans Affairs, announcing $2 million in grants through the Veterans Community Initiative Grant program for 15 community organizations to support informal and formal peer support efforts as well as fund innovative programming to address suicide prevention in the veteran and servicemember community in Massachusetts.

“Every day, but especially as we honor Mental Health Awareness Month, we work to reduce stigma associated with mental health challenges and suicidal thoughts. Through initiatives like suicide prevention services funding and the Roadmap for Behavioral Health Reform, it is our hope that anyone who struggles with their mental health know where to access services, and that it is OK to talk to someone and seek help.”

---Health and Human Services Secretary Kate Walsh announcing $1.9 million in annual state funding over the next 11 years awarded to 19 community organizations to provide suicide prevention, intervention and postvention services across the state.

"I'm excited for this opportunity to showcase Massachusetts' climate and economic leadership on the global stage, and to make the case for why businesses should consider starting and growing in our state. Massachusetts deeply values our close relationship with Italy and the Vatican City State, and we see this trip as an excellent opportunity to strengthen ties and strategize on future opportunities for collaboration."

---Gov. Maura Healey commenting on her trip to Italy with Boston Mayor Michelle Wu.

“The governor and mayor are jet setting to Italy under the guise of climate change awareness to learn new strategies on how they can force the people of Massachusetts to cut our consumption. In the age of Zoom and remote meeting options, there’s no reason for the contradicting emissions-heavy flight across the Atlantic in the name of saving our planet. There is so much pageantry, flaunting of their status, self-celebration and hypocrisy.”

--- Paul Craney, a spokesman for the Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance.


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 May 13-17 the House met for a total of 13 hours and nine minutes and the Senate met for a total of nine minutes.

Mon. May 13 House 11:03 a.m. to 11:14 a.m.

Senate 11:15 a.m. to 11:19 a.m.

Tues. May 14 No House session

No Senate session

Wed. May 15 House 11:02 a.m. to 4:25 p.m.

No Senate session

Thurs. May 16 House 10:59 a.m. to 6:34 p.m.

Senate 11:02 a.m. to 11:07 a.m.

Fri. May 17 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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