By Bob Katzen

THE HOUSE AND SENATE: Beacon Hill Roll Call records the votes of local representatives on seven roll calls from the week of Feb. 4-8. There were no roll calls in the Senate last week.

DECLARING RESIDENCY NOT VALID (H 55): House 38-119, rejected an amendment providing that "self-declaration of residency" not be accepted as a valid form of residency verification for people seeking taxpayer-funded benefits from the state.

(A "Yes" vote is for the amendment requiring more than self-declaration. A "No" vote is against requiring it.)

NO: Rep. Jennifer Benson.

YES: Rep. Sheila Harrington.

LOWER TUITION RATES FOR ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS (H 55): House 123-31, approved a Democratic-sponsored amendment indefinitely delaying a Republican-sponsored proposal to prohibit illegal immigrant students from paying the preferred, lower in-state tuition rates and fees at Massachusetts colleges and universities. The amendment would replace the proposal with a study of the issue by the Higher Education Committee.

(A "Yes" vote is for the study. A "No" vote is against it.)

YES: Rep. Benson.

NO: Rep. Harrington.

STRIP WELFARE DEPARTMENT OF POLICING POWERS (H 55): House 43-112, rejected an amendment requiring the development of a plan to strip the Department of Transitional Assistance (Welfare Department) of its power to police welfare fraud and transfer it to the State Inspector General.


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The proposal comes on the heels of a recent report by Inspector General Glenn Cunha's office that an estimated $25 million in money is going to people who aren't eligible to collect welfare.

(A "Yes" vote is for the plan to strip the Welfare Department of its powers. A "No" vote is against the plan.)

NO: Rep.Benson.

YES: Rep. Harrington.

$500,000 FOR SCHOOL SAFETY (H 55): House 29-126, rejected an amendment providing $500,000 to suburban and rural schools to improve school safety and security. The measure creates a $25,000 per school competitive grant program for school districts with fewer than 5,000 students.

(A "Yes" vote is for the $500,000. A "No" vote is against it.)

NO: Rep. Benson.

YES: Rep. Harrington.

RESTORE SOME LOCAL AID (H 55): House 29-126, rejected a proposal to provide $5.25 million to reimburse communities for the cost of transporting homeless students to and from their school, $11.5 million for extraordinary special education costs and $1 million to regional school districts for the transportation of pupils. The funding would only take effect if tax revenue receipts exceeded the revenue estimates.

(A "Yes" vote is for the funding. A "No" vote is against it.)

NO: Rep. Benson.

YES: Harrington.

FREEZE UNEMPLOYMENT TAX IN 2013 AND 2014 (H 55): House 29-125, rejected an amendment that would freeze the unemployment insurance tax paid by employers at the current 2012 level through 2014, instead of allowing a scheduled increase to take effect. The amendment would replace a proposal to freeze only the 2013 rates. The payments go into a fund that provides benefits to laid-off workers.

(A "Yes" vote is for the two-year freeze. A "No" vote is against it.)

NO: Rep. Benson.

YES: Rep. Harrington.

SUPPLEMENTAL BUDGET (H 55): House 141-13, approved and sent to the Senate a fiscal 2013 supplemental budget to fund several programs including $30 million for costs of the investigation and response related to the evidence tampering scandal at a state drug testing lab. The measure provides $44 million for the state's emergency shelter system and $25 million for public lawyers to represent indigent defendants. The proposal also draws $200 million from the state's Rainy Day Fund and makes $25 million in cuts to non-executive branch agencies.

(A "Yes" vote is for the budget. A "No" vote is against it.)

NO: Rep. Benson, Harrington.

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ALSO UP ON BEACON HILL

LEADERSHIP TEAM REMAINS THE SAME: As the 2013 session begins to gear up, House Speaker Robert DeLeo chose to reappoint the same leadership team that he had in 2012. They include Majority Leader Ronald Mariano, D-Quincy; Speaker Pro Tempore Patricia Haddad, D-Somerset; Assistant Majority Leader Byron Rushing, D-Boston and Second Assistant Majority Leader Kathi-Anne Reinstein, D-Revere. He also renamed Rep. Brian Dempsey, D-Haverhill, as chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee.

THE GOVERNOR AND A.G. ARE BACK ON THE RADIO: When former talk-radio-station WTKK changed its format from talk to music, the talk-show hosts were not the only ones who were pulled off the air. For several years, Patrick and Attorney General Martha Coakley had both appeared monthly on the show hosted by Jim Braude and Margery Eagan. They lost their gig when the station changed formats. But now they'll be back as Braude and Eagan have landed a new gig on public radio's WGBH 89.7 from noon to 2 p.m. beginning Feb. 25.

ELECTIONS GALORE IN A NON-ELECTION YEAR: For an off-election year, there are an unusual number of vacant seats and special elections in the state. The big one is the special election to fill the Senate vacated by John Kerry's departure to become President Barack Obama's secretary of state. The primary is April 30 and the general election is June 25. Other special elections include a March 5 primary and April 7 general election to fill the seats of the late Rep. Joyce Spiliotis of Danvers, who died Nov. 29 and former Rep. Stephen Smith of Everett, who resigned, as well as a May 28 primary and June 25 final to replace former Rep. Marty Walz of Boston and former Sen. Jack Hart of Boston, both of whom resigned to accept jobs in the private sector.

HOW LONG WAS LAST WEEK'S SESSION? During the week of Feb. 4-8, the House met for a total of seven hours and 49 minutes while the Senate met for a total of three hours and 48 minutes.

Bob Katzen welcomes feedback at bob@beaconhillrollcall.com.