By Bob Katzen
THE HOUSE AND SENATE: There were no roll calls in the House or Senate last week.
Beacon Hill Roll Call this week examines the voting records of local senators on Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick's 23 vetoes during the 2011-2012 session.
A two-thirds vote is required to override a gubernatorial veto in the 40-member Senate that includes 36 Democrats and only four Republicans.
The governor needed the support of 15 senators to sustain a veto when all 40 senators voted and fewer votes if some members were absent. Patrick fell far short of that goal.
Three votes were the most support he received on any veto. The Senate easily overrode all 23 vetoes, including 20 that were overridden unanimously.
The vetoes had no support from the four GOP senators and very little support from the chamber's 36 Democrats. Only 10 Democrats voted with Patrick to sustain any vetoes, including Sen. Cynthia Creem (D-Newton), the senator who gave him the most support, siding with him on three vetoes. Nine other Democrats supported the governor on one veto while 26 did not give him any support.
Here's how local senators fared in their support of Patrick on the 23 vetoes.
The percentage next to the senator's name represents the percentage of times the senator supported Patrick's vetoes.
The number in parentheses represents the number of times the senator supported Patrick's vetoes.
Some senators voted on all 23 roll-call votes.
Sen. Eileen Donoghue: 0% (0)
Sen. James Eldridge: 4.3% (1)
Sen. Jennifer Flanagan: 0% (0)
ALSO ON BEACON HILL
CHILD SEX ABUSE (H 4329, S 2409): The House on July 25 and the Senate on July 31 approved different versions of a bill increasing the statute of limitations during which a person can file a civil lawsuit for child sexual abuse. Last week the House rejected the Senate version and appointed a three-member conference committee to work with yet to be appointed Senate conferees to hammer out a compromise proposal. Current civil law affords a victim until the age of 21 to file a suit. The House bill would increase the age to 43 while the Senate hikes it to 45. The Senate version does not include a House provision that allows any victims who were barred under current law from filing due to the expiration of the statute of limitations a one-year window to file a suit retroactively.
RIGHT TO REPAIR -- Ballot Question 1: In June, the Right to Repair Coalition, a group of independent auto repair shops, gathered and filed sufficient signatures to place a question on the November 6 ballot asking voters if they support a law that would require auto manufacturers to sell to non-dealer repair shops the complete repair information and diagnostic tools currently only provided to franchised dealer service centers. A few weeks later, the Legislature approved and Gov. Patrick signed into law a similar bill. The measure was a compromise agreed to by competing sides of the issue -- the sponsoring independent repair shop owners and auto manufacturers, which initially opposed it. By that time, it was too late to remove the question from the ballot and both groups instead agreed to work together on an ad campaign telling voters to skip the ballot question.
That all changed last week when the coalition announced it has reversed course and decided to urge voters to approve rather than skip Question 1. The coalition's website explains, "What we found is that although our coalition, ballot committee members and consumers were pleased with the Legislature's action, they still overwhelmingly supported a 'Yes' vote for Question 1."
AAA Massachusetts last week decided to enter the fray. It announced a campaign urging voters to vote "Yes" on Question 1. AAA says the compromise bill is flawed because it doesn't allow automakers to share telematics, a growing technology that would allow car trouble to be diagnosed remotely by using information generated by the car. In a statement, AAA said, "Your vehicle produces valuable information about its health and condition. AAA thinks you should own this information, all of it, and should be free to share it as you see fit."
The ballot question, if approved, would supersede the current compromise law. However, the Legislature would still be allowed to make changes to the new law or even override it and reinstate the compromise law.
LONG-TERM CARE INSURANCE (H 4348): The House and Senate approved and sent to Gov. Patrick a lengthy 20-page bill regulating long-term care (LTC) insurance in Massachusetts. LTC insurance is very expensive and provides coverage for a wide range of LTC services and facilities, including nursing homes, assisted-living facilities and care at home.
Provisions include requiring the state to develop guidelines consistent with the National Association of Insurance Commissioners model; prohibiting unfair and deceptive sales practices; allowing a policyholder to cancel the policy up to 30 days after the effective date and receive a full refund; and requiring the employees of companies that sell LTC insurance to take a one-time training course and then continue training to keep up with any changes.
Supporters said the Bay State is one of only nine states that have not adopted these types of regulations for LTC insurance, which has become much more complicated over the years. They noted the law will protect consumers and ensure transparency.
The Judiciary Committee recommended that proposals be shipped off to a "study committee," in which measures are never actually studied and are effectively defeated. Here are some of the bills on their way to be studied:
PROHIBIT SPRAY PAINT (S 804): Prohibits minors under the age of 17 from possessing spray paint if they intend to use it to create graffiti. Violators would be punished by up to two years in prison and/or a $250 fine. The measure also imposes a $500 fine on anyone who sells spray paint to a minor under 17.
HIGH SCHOOL JURORS (S 807): Exempts full-time high school students from jury duty.
LIMIT EMINENT DOMAIN (S 856): Prohibits the state or local cities and towns from taking away private land unless it is necessary for a public use -- defined as the "possession, occupation and enjoyment of land by the public at large or by public agencies."
POLICE SCANNERS (S 903): Makes it a separate offense, punishable by up to a 10-year prison sentence, to use a police scanner during the commission of a crime.
"It is my duty as state auditor to ensure that MassHealth has the strongest possible safeguards in place to protect both the taxpayers and people in need. This audit today indicates that more needs to be done."
Auditor Suzanne Bump on her findings that the process for verifying self-reported income and residency information of applicants for MassHealth needs improvements and may be costing the state millions of dollars annually in Medicaid expenses.
"To say that I am deeply concerned and disturbed would be an understatement."
House Speaker Robert DeLeo on the findings in Bump's audit.
"We don't think doctors should ever be under the influence of either money or alcohol when making decisions in the interest of their patients."
HOW LONG WAS LAST WEEK'S SESSION? During the week of October 15-19, the House met for a total of one hour and one minute while the Senate met for a total of 45 minutes.