By Bob Katzen

THE HOUSE AND SENATE: Beacon Hill Roll Call records the votes of local representatives and senators on three roll calls from prior legislative sessions.

$250,000 TO RETAIN TEACHERS (H 4242)

House 135-15, Senate 38-1, overrode Gov. Deval Patrick's veto of the entire $250,000 for the Educator Mentor Corps that uses retired teachers to mentor newer public school teachers.

Supporters of keeping the $250,000 said between 30 percent to 50 percent of teachers leave their jobs during their first three years in the classroom. They noted this successful program uses experienced teachers to help support, inspire and retain the next generation of teachers, especially in urban areas.

In his veto message, Gov. Patrick said he vetoed the funding because the program was "not recommended."

(A "Yes" vote is for the $250,000. A "No" vote is against it.)

Rep. Jennifer Benson, Yes; Rep. Sheila Harrington, No ; Sen. Eileen Donoghue, Yes; Sen. James Eldridge Yes; Sen. Jennifer Flanagan, Yes

$183,000 FOR NEW ENGLAND BOARD OF HIGHER EDUCATION (H 4242)

House 150-0, Senate 36-3, overrode Gov. Patrick's $183,000 veto reduction (from $367,500 to $184,500) in funding for the New England Board of Higher Education. The board is made up of leaders in education, business and government from the six New England states and provides tuition savings to any New England resident who attends one of many public New England colleges to study certain majors which are not available at his or her own state's college.


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It also has a Policy and Research arm that serves as a resource to education, government and business leaders throughout New England on issues related to higher education and workforce development.

Supporters of keeping the $183,000 said the cut will hurt the state's participation on the board which has resulted in substantial savings for Massachusetts residents who attend public colleges in other New England states.

In his veto message, Patrick said that he reduced the funding to an amount consistent with his original budget recommendation.

(A "Yes" vote is for the $183,000. A "No" vote is against the $183,000.)

Rep. Jennifer Benson, Yes; Rep. Sheila Harrington, Yes; Sen. Eileen Donoghue, Yes; Sen. James Eldridge, Yes; Sen. Jennifer Flanagan, Yes

$750,000 FOR TUFTS VETERINARY SCHOOL (H 4242)

House 152-0, Senate 38-1, overrode Gov. Patrick's $750,000 veto reduction (from $5,550,000 to $4,800,000) in funding for Tufts Veterinary School in North Grafton.

Supporters of keeping the $750,000 said that the funding is important to this college that welcomes 300 new students annually to its four-year academic programs which offer a degree in veterinary medicine. They noted that the school also has three hospitals that treat an estimated 28,000 animals annually and conducts groundbreaking research that benefits animals and people.

In his veto message, Patrick said that he reduced the funding to an amount "projected to be necessary."

(A "Yes" vote is for the $750,000. A "No" vote is against the $750,000.)

Rep. Jennifer Benson, Yes; Rep. Sheila Harrington, Yes; Sen. Eileen Donoghue, Yes; Sen. James Eldridge, Yes; Sen. Jennifer Flanagan, Yes

ALSO ON BEACON HILL

$50 FINE THRESHOLD (S 2340) -- The House gave initial approval to a Senate-approved proposal changing the threshold at which a person with a suspended license is required to pay a $50 surcharge with half of that going to the Spinal Cord Injury Trust Fund and the other half to the General Fund. Current law imposes the surcharge on a driver with five or more moving violations or surchargeable offenses in a three-year period. The bill would change that threshold to three surchargeable events within any two-year period or seven surchargeable offenses within any three-year period.

FLAG FOR FAMILIES OF FALLEN POLICE OFFICERS (S 2344) -- The House gave initial approval to a Senate-approved bill providing a Massachusetts state flag to the family of any state police officer killed in the line of duty. The flag would be presented at the funeral.

NATIONAL GUARD (H 4109) -- The House gave final approval to a new version of a measure originally filed by Gov. Patrick making changes in the state's National Guard system. When he originally filed the bill, Patrick said, "This bill modernizes the Guard's governing statute, which was last revised in 1953, and brings Massachusetts into conformity with the overwhelming majority of states. This legislation will facilitate the work of the Guard and strengthen the Commonwealth's readiness and resiliency."

Supporters said the laws governing the Guard's operation have not been updated since 1954. They noted this bill will bring the Guard into the 21st century in many areas including current gender neutrality standards of discrimination.

The bill needs only final Senate approval prior to it going to the governor for his signature.

SPECIAL COMMISSION ON YOUNG PROFESSIONALS (S 2339) -- The House gave initial approval to a Senate-approved bill establishing a special commission on young professionals to examine how the state can better engage, involve and educate young professionals in decisions and policies that affect them. The commission's goal would be to determine a strategy to retain and attract young professionals to live, work and play in Massachusetts.

GYM CLASSES (S 2047) -- The Senate approved and sent to the House a bill that would amend the current law that requires physical education to be taught as a required subject in all grades for all students but allows cities and towns to determine the amount of mandated time. The measure requires that the instruction be age-appropriate and include physical activity, nutrition and wellness with a focus on physical competence, health-related fitness and enjoyment of physical activity that benefits children physically, cognitively, emotionally and socially. Another provision requires the education commissioner to conduct an evaluation of the duration, frequency and content of current physical education classes and to report findings to the Legislature.

Supporters said that it is time to ramp up physical education requirements. They noted childhood obesity has increased 300 percent over the last three decades and led to an increase in heart disease, diabetes and other obesity-related diseases.

ROBOTIC SURGERY (S 2261) -- The House gave initial approval to a bill creating a special commission to investigate the use of robotic surgery in Massachusetts. Robotic surgery is a method in which the surgery is performed using small tools attached to a robotic arm controlled by the surgeon with a computer.

Supporters said it is important to get a handle on this surgery that is rising in popularity. They noted there are increased reports of complications from robotic surgery and questions about whether some surgeons have the skill level to perform this surgery.

REGULATE PORTABLE ROCK CLIMBING WALLS (S 2253) -- The Senate gave final approval to and sent to the governor a bill requiring companies that set up portable rock climbing walls higher than 12 feet to be equipped with an inflatable protective base and guardrail surrounding the base of the wall. The measure also requires that all climbers use a safety harness and a helmet.

Supporters said this popular but potentially dangerous industry should be regulated in order to prevent injuries and save lives.

Opponents said this unwarranted government intrusion would hurt many companies by not allowing them to use their existing walls and requiring them to purchase expensive new equipment.