Beacon Hill Roll Call records local senators' votes on roll calls from the week of February 5-9. There were no roll calls in the House last week.

CHANDLER WILL BE SENATE PRESIDENT FOR ALL OF 2018 (S 2298) -- Senate 37-0, approved a motion to remove the adjective "Acting" from Acting Senate President Harriette Chandler's title and make the Worcester senator the permanent Senate president for the remainder of 2018. Chandler, 80, was majority leader and second in command in the Senate before former Senate President Stan Rosenberg resigned on December 4. Rosenberg's resignation came after allegations in the Boston Globe that his husband, Bryon Hefner, groped three men and kissed another one against his will. The Globe story also included claims that Hefner has said he speaks for Rosenberg and talks about Senate business with legislators and their staffs. The Senate Ethics Committee is currently investigating the matter.

"I did not allow Bryon Hefner to influence my actions and decisions as Senate president, or to influence the Senate's actions and decisions, despite any suggestions to the contrary," said Rosenberg. "I continue to rely on the Senate Ethics Committee investigation to determine all the facts, and I look forward to its completion."

Following Rosenberg's resignation, Chandler was elected to fill the spot temporarily until the investigation was over and Rosenberg or another senator is elected president.


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Chandler has said repeatedly she does not want to be the permanent Senate president for a long period of time and will not be a candidate for the position in January when the new Senate, following the November 2018 election, is scheduled to elect a new Senate president. Four senators are said to be already jockeying for votes for Senate president: Sens. Sal DiDomenico (D-Everett), Karen Spilka (D-Ashland), Eric Lesser (D-Longmeadow) and Eileen Donoghue. (D-Lowell).

Chandler plans to soon move into the plush office of the Senate president and will also name a new majority leader, the post she held before being elected Senate president. She said that the focus continues to be on policy, the budget and the business of legislating. "We have now reached a point where we are into the business of doing what we're here to do, which is legislating," said Chandler. "We have a budget ... We have work to do for the people who have elected us, and 'acting' doesn't quite do it anymore. We are now at the point where we need a president who has the full responsibilities and the full authority of a president of the Senate."

Both Chandler and Rosenberg intend to run for re-election in November.

YES: Sens. Eileen Donoghue, James Eldridge, Cindy Friedman, Anne Gobi, Barbara L'Italien, Bruce Tarr, Dean Tran

DIDN'T VOTE: Sen. Michael Barrett

$3.65 BILLION FOR REPAIRS AND IMPROVEMENTS (S 2279) -- Senate 37-0, approved authorizing up to $3.65 billion in bonds for repairs and improvements of capital facilities across the state including $475 million for improvements to state university and community college campuses; another $475 million for campus improvements to UMass; $85 million for clean energy and efficiency programs at state-owned facilities; $675 million for trial court facility improvements; and $500 million for public safety and security facilities.

"This bill invests in capital projects across the state, to ensure our state facilities are well-maintained and well-equipped to best serve our residents and communities," said Sen. Karen Spilka (D-Ashland), chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. "These bonds are a strong step in our continued work with the governor and the House to support projects in a range of areas, including health, safety and education, that are critical for our cities and towns."

"Long-term capital investment in these facilities is critical, and this bond ensures that necessary planning and investment will continue without interruption," said Sen. John Keenan (D-Quincy), chair of the Senate Committee on Bonding, Capital Expenditures and State Assets. 

The House approved a different version of the package in November. A House-Senate conference committee will work out a compromise.

YES: Sens. Eileen Donoghue, James Eldridge, Cindy Friedman, Anne Gobi, Barbara L'Italien, Bruce Tarr, Dean Tran

DIDN'T VOTE: Sen. Michael Barrett

Also on Beacon Hill

AUTOMATIC VOTER REGISTRATION -- The Election Laws Committee gave a favorable report to legislation that would establish a system under which eligible voters would automatically be registered to vote when they interact with a state agency like the Registry of Motor Vehicles or MassHealth.

"We're very excited to see Automatic Voter Registration (AVR) take the next step towards passage in our state," said Pam Wilmot, Executive Director of Common Cause Massachusetts which is the leader of the Election Modernization Coalition. "We are grateful to the legislators who share our passion for giving all Bay Staters a voice in elections, and for making our election system more accurate, secure and inclusive by supporting AVR."

Supporters note that an estimated 680,000 eligible Massachusetts voters are currently not registered. They said that in Oregon, the first of ten states to implement this system, more than 230,000 voters registered in its first six months, and more than 265,000 inaccurate registrations were updated.

SAFE BABY SLEEP (H 4074) -- The Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities Committee held a hearing on a proposal that would require the Department of Children and Families to establish a safe sleep program that provides infant safety information on its website for expecting and new parents. An online training course would also be offered to educate them on infant safety and safe sleep techniques.

The measure also provides free safe sleep boxes for infants and additional infant care necessities for anyone who has completed the training course to the satisfaction of the department. These baby boxes are made from durable cardboard and include a firm mattress and a collection of products including diapers, breastfeeding accessories, baby clothes and other items.

The use of baby boxes originated in Finland, where they helped that country achieve one of the lowest infant mortality rates in the world," said the bill's sponsor Rep. Diane DiZoglio (D-Methuen). "In 2017, an estimated 93 percent of infant fatalities associated with Sudden Unexpected Infant Death Syndrome were related to sleep environments.

ADOPT A SHELTER DOG AWARENESS MONTH (H 1653) -- The House gave initial approval to legislation that proclaims October as "Adopt a Shelter Dog Awareness Month."

MARIJUANA BILLS -- The Committee on Marijuana Policy held a hearing on 28 bills last week including:

REPEAL LEGALIZATION OF MARIJUANA (S 1060) -- Completely repeals the law, approved by voters on the 2016 ballot, that legalized the recreational use of marijuana.

URGE CONGRESS TO LIFT THE FEDERAL BAN ON MARIJUANA (H 3196) -- Urges Congress to repeal the federal law that makes marijuana illegal in order to put a stop to the conflict between the federal government's ban and the Bay State which has legalized it.

Supporters of the repeal cited a recent statement by U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts Andrew Lelling that he would not rule out prosecution of any of the many players in the state's marijuana industry.

Congress has unambiguously made it a federal crime to cultivate, distribute and/or possess marijuana," said Lelling. "As a law enforcement officer in the Executive Branch, it is my sworn responsibility to enforce that law, guided by the Principles of Federal Prosecution. Deciding, in advance, to immunize a certain category of actors from federal prosecution would be to effectively amend the laws Congress has already passed, and that I will not do. The kind of categorical relief sought by those engaged in state-level marijuana legalization efforts can only come from the legislative process."

Repeal supporters also noted that 18 medical marijuana dispensaries have ceased to take debit cards and have become cash-only operations. The debit card companies that process payments for the dispensaries severed their relationship with the shops out of fear they could be prosecuted for their participation in the sale of marijuana.

EXPUNGE PRIOR MARIJUANA ARRESTS (S 1075) -- Allows the courts to expunge the criminal record of anyone who has been arrested, charged or convicted of possession of less than an ounce of marijuana.

"People shouldn't be unduly penalized for non-violent minor offenses that are now legal behaviors," said the bill's sponsor Sen. Jason Lewis (D-Winchester). "This legislation was written to provide an avenue for appropriate redress."

REQUIRE EFFICIENT USE OF ENERGY AND WATER BY MASSACHUSETTS POT GROWERS (S 1076) -- Requires the secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs, in consultation with the commissioners of Energy Resources, Environmental Protection and Agricultural Resources, to make recommendations for energy and water use efficiency for licensed marijuana cultivators in Massachusetts. The Cannabis Control Commission would then develop and implement regulations based on these recommendations.

How long was last week's session?

During the week of February 5-9, the House met for a total of seven hours and one minute while the Senate met for a total of 10 hours and 13 minutes.

Bob Katzen welcomes feedback at bob@beaconhillrollcall.com