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THE HOUSE AND SENATE. Beacon Hill Roll Call records local Representatives’ votes on three roll calls and local Senators’ votes on one roll call from recent legislative sessions. There were no roll call votes in the House or Senate last week.

Veterans’ tax relief (H 4660)

House 157-0, Senate 36-0, approved and Gov. Mitt Romney signed into law a bill that provides various tax exemptions to disabled veterans. The measure raises current property tax exemptions that range from $250 to $950 per year for veterans to a higher range of between $400 and $1,500. It also allows local cities and towns to suspend local real estate taxes of active duty National Guardsmen and reservists until 180 days after they return home. Supporters said that this long-overdue bill would provide tax relief and help honor the soldiers who defend our nation. (A “Yes” vote is for the bill).

Rep. James Eldridge, Yes

Rep. Robert Hargraves, Yes

Sen. Robert Antonioni, Yes

Sen. Steven Panagiotakos, Yes

Sen. Pamela Resor, Yes

Ban gender-based annuities (H 2970)

House 115-40, approved and sent to the Senate a bill prohibiting insurance companies from using gender as a factor in the sale and payout of an annuity policy. Supporters of the bill said that it is unfair that men and women purchase annuities at the same price but women receive a lower monthly payout. They argued that it is time to guarantee equal rights for women and prohibit this type of blatant gender discrimination. Opponents of the bill said that this is not an equal rights issue but simply a consumer one, based on the fact that women generally live longer than men. They noted that women may receive a lower monthly payout but their lifetime payout is in most cases equal to or more than a man’s lifetime one. (A “Yes” vote is for making annuities gender-neutral. A “No” vote is against making them gender-neutral).

Rep. James Eldridge, Yes

Rep. Robert Hargraves, No

1 percent tax on real estate sales (S 2555)

Rep. James Eldridge, Yes

Rep. Robert Hargraves, No

ALSO UP ON BEACON HILL

Prescription Advantage enrollment begins Sept. 15 — State officials announced that a new enrollment period for the state’s Prescription Advantage program will run from Sept. 15 through Nov. 15. They note that this program can help consumers in many ways including supplementing and filling in the gaps in the new federal Medicare drug benefit program. Additional information and enrollment forms may be obtained by calling (800) AGE-INFO or TTY for the deaf and hard-of-hearing at (877) 610-0241.

Sales tax holiday — Early figures point toward another successful sales-tax-free holiday weekend for the state. Shoppers on Aug. 13 and 14 enjoyed an exemption from the state’s 5 percent sales tax on most retail items that cost under $2,500.

Big Dig — Gov. Romney appointed former Environmental Affairs Secretary Stephen Pritchard to manage the promised safety review of the metropolitan highway system including the Big Dig. He also hired an engineering firm and appointed a five-member panel of experts on engineering, transportation and construction materials to help guide the effort.

New Secretary of Environmental Affairs — Gov. Romney appointed Robert Golledge Jr. as the state’s new Secretary of Environmental Affairs. Golledge served for three years as commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection.

Beacon Hill Roll Call tracks the length of time that the House and Senate were in session each week. Many legislators say that legislative sessions are only one aspect of the Legislature’s job and that a lot of important work is done outside of the House and Senate chambers. They note that their jobs also involve committee work, research, constituent work and other matters that are important to their districts. Critics say that the Legislature does not meet regularly or long enough to debate and vote in public view on the thousands of pieces of legislation that have been filed. They note that the infrequency and brief length of sessions are misguided and lead to irresponsible late night sessions and a mad rush to act on dozens of bills in the days immediately preceding the end of an annual session.

During the week of Aug. 14-18, the House met for a total of 35 minutes while the Senate met for a total of 31 minutes.

Mon., Aug. 14

(H) 11 a.m. to 11:14 a.m.

(S) 11:01 a.m. to 11:23 a.m.

Tues., Aug. 15

No House session

No Senate session

Wed., Aug. 16

No House session

No Senate session

Thurs., Aug. 17

(H) 11:02 a.m. to 11:23 a.m.

(S) 11:03 a.m. to 11:12 a.m.

Fri., Aug. 18

No House session

No Senate session

Bob Katzen welcomes feedback at bob@beaconhillrollcall.com.

Copyright © 2006 Beacon Hill Roll Call. All Rights Reserved.

By Bob Katzen

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