By Bob Katzen
THE HOUSE AND SENATE. This week, Beacon Hill Roll Call records local senators' votes on three roll calls from prior legislative sessions. There were no roll calls in the House or Senate last week.
RAISE MINIMUM WAGE TO $9 (S 1925)
Senate 6-32, rejected an amendment that would raise the minimum wage from $8 to $9 over one year instead of from $8 to $11 over three years. The amendment would also strike a provision that ties future hikes in the minimum wage to increases in the Consumer Price Index.
Amendment supporters said the hike to $9 is a more reasonable one. They argued the Legislature should have more input on the wage as time goes on instead of having its hands tied and future hikes predetermined.
Amendment opponents said the amendment essentially kills the bill that is designed to pay a reasonable wage to help thousands of hardworking people support their families.
(A "Yes" vote is for the amendment hiking the wage to $9. A "No" vote is against the amendment and favors the hike to $11.)
Sen. Eileen Donoghue, Yes; Sen. James Eldridge, No; Sen. Jennifer Flanagan, No.
HIKE CURRENT $2.63 PER HOUR MINIMUM WAGE FOR TIPPED WORKERS (S 1925)
Senate 5-33, rejected an amendment that would raise the hourly minimum wage for all tipped employees from the current $2.63 per hour to an amount equal to 35 percent of the regular minimum wage. The amendment would replace a more expensive provision that raises the $2.63 to 50 percent of the minimum wage. When the minimum wage jumps to $11 per hour, the $2.63 would jump to $3.85 under the 35 percent amendment as opposed to $5.50 under the 50 percent provision.
Supporters of the 35 percent and supporters of the 50 percent agreed that $2.63 is too low and has not been changed since 1999.
Supporters of the lower 35 percent said it was a more reasonable hike that would make these workers less dependent on tips while still protecting employers from a drastic hike of 50 percent.
Opponents of the 35 percent said that 50 percent is fairer to workers and is still reasonable for business owners.
(A "Yes" vote is for the hike to 35 percent. A "No" vote is against the 35 percent hike and favors the higher hike to 50 percent.)
Sen. Eileen Donoghue, No; Sen. James Eldridge, No; Sen. Jennifer Flanagan, No.
COACHES MUST LEARN CPR (S 1918)
Senate 35-0, approved and sent to the House a bill that would require all school coaches to complete a course in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) from the American Heart Association, American Red Cross or other state-approved agency by August 2014.The measure also prohibits local cities and towns from being responsible for the costs.
Supporters said this invaluable training costs about $50 per person and will save many lives. They noted there are creative ways to pay for the training or to get the fee waived.
(A "Yes" vote is for the bill.)
Sen. Eileen Donoghue, Yes; Sen. James Eldridge, Didn't Vote; Sen. Jennifer Flanagan, Yes.
ALSO ON BEACON HILL
LOWER TUITION FOR ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS (H 1078) -- The Higher Education Committee will hold a hearing on Dec. 11 at 1 p.m. in Room A2 on a bill allowing some illegal immigrant students to pay the in-state tuition rates and fees at Massachusetts colleges and universities. To qualify, the student must have attended a high school in Massachusetts for at least three years and have graduated or received the equivalent of a diploma. The measure also requires these students to provide the college with an affidavit stating that he or she has filed or will in the future file an application to become a citizen or permanent resident.
Supporters say that many of these students were babies when they were brought here by their parents and had no choice about entering the country illegally. They note that these hardworking students are currently required to pay out-of-state tuition rates that are up to five times higher than the in-state rate. Some argue that many are unable to afford the higher tuition and end up skipping college and working in low-pay, low-skilled jobs rather than contributing to the economy in a more meaningful fashion.
Opponents say the state should not offer financial rewards to anyone who has broken the law and is in this country illegally. They note it is also important to point out that these students would not even be able to legally obtain a job in Massachusetts following their graduation from college. Some argue that it is outrageous to offer low tuition rates to these students while legal citizens from outside Massachusetts, including war veterans, are required to pay higher rates if they attend a Massachusetts state school.
CAP SALARY OF NONPROFIT CEOS (H 1714) -- The Committee on Labor and Workforce Development is considering a bill that would cap the salaries of CEOs and other executives at nonprofit social service agencies which receive at least 30 percent of their annual budget from state funding. The measure would cap the salaries of CEOs on a sliding scale ranging from a limit of $49,719, for any agency with a budget less than $250,000 to $213,165 for one with a budget exceeding $25 million. A hearing on the measure is scheduled for December 18 at 12:30 p.m. in room A-1 at the Statehouse.
DRIVER'S LICENSE RENEWAL -- The Registry of Motor Vehicles announced it will reinstate its policy of notifying drivers when their driver's license is about to expire. This license reminder ended five years ago when the registry made budget cuts during a fiscal crunch. Under the reinstated system, the driver will receive a postcard informing him or her if he or she is eligible to renew online at MassRMV.com or if it can only be done with a visit to a branch office. Registrar Rachel Kaprielian noted that private advertising will help fund the service.
REDUCE FEE FOR "THE RIDE" -- On Dec. 11, the MBTA Board of Directors will vote on whether to reduce from $4 to $3 the fare for The RIDE, the popular service that provides door-to-door transportation to eligible persons with a physical, cognitive or mental disability. In 2012, the board raised the fare from $2 to the current $4. Activists have been lobbying for months to get the fare reduced.
ALCOHOL IN NURSING HOMES (H 3779) -- The House gave initial approval to a bill allowing cities and towns to opt to permit the sale of alcohol at nursing homes, retirement communities and assisted or independent living facilities.
HOW LONG WAS LAST WEEK'S SESSION? During the week of Nov. 25-29. The House met for a total of 34 minutes while the Senate met for a total of 38 minutes.