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 representatives on Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick’s vetoes of items in the $28.22 billion fiscal 2009 budget. The House in 2008 voted on 75 of Patrick’s budget vetoes that reduced state spending by $122.5 million and made other changes in the version of the budget approved by the Legislature.
A two-thirds vote is required to override a gubernatorial veto. The 158-person membership of the House included 139 Democrats and only 19 Republicans. The governor needed the support of 53 senators to sustain a veto when all 158 senators voted — and fewer votes if some members were absent. Patrick fell far short of that goal. Twenty-five votes were the most that he received on any veto as the House easily overrode all 75.
Ironically, the vetoes had little support from the chamber’s 139 Democratic representatives. Only 21 Democrats voted with Patrick to sustain any vetoes and 13 of those supported the governor on only one veto. An overwhelming 118 Democrats voted to override all the vetoes.
The Democrat who gave Patrick the most support was Rep. Paul Casey, D-Winchester, who supported him 46.6 percent of the time. The other four Democrats who supported Patrick the most include Reps. Frank Hynes, D-Marshfield, 28.0 percent; Cory Atkins, D-Concord, 18.6 percent; Colleen Garry, D-Dracut, 16.2 percent; and Jennifer Callahan, D-Sutton, 13.0 percent.
It was mostly Republicans who voted with the Democratic governor to sustain the vetoes. The GOP member who voted with the governor to sustain the most vetoes was Rep. George Peterson, R-Grafton, who supported him 97.3 percent of the time. The other four Republicans who supported Patrick the most include Reps. Bradley Jones, R-North Reading, 96.0 percent; Mary Rogeness, R-Longmeadow, and John Lepper, R-Attleboro, 94.6 percent; and Vinny deMacedo, R-Plymouth, 92.0 percent. The Republican who sided with the governor the least was Paul Loscocco (R-Holliston) 66.6 percent.
Percentage of times local representatives supported Gov. Patrick
Here is how local representatives fared in their support of Gov. Patrick on the 75 budget vetoes.
The percentage next to the representative’s name represents the percentage of times that the representative supported Patrick’s vetoes.
Rep. Eldridge, 0 percent; Rep. Hargraves, 84.0 percent.
ALSO UP ON BEACON HILL
Pay hike for legislators likely in January — Gov. Patrick is required under the state constitution to determine the amount of a pay raise or pay cut that the state’s 40 senators and 160 representatives will receive for the 2009-2010 session. The governor is obligated to increase or decrease legislative salaries biennially under the terms of a constitutional amendment approved by the voters in 1998. The amendment, approved by a better than two to one margin, requires legislative salaries to be “increased or decreased at the same rate as increases or decreases in the median household income for the commonwealth for the preceding two year period, as ascertained by the governor.”
Legislators’ salaries have been raised every two years since the $46,410 base pay was first raised under the constitutional amendment in 2001. Their current salary is $58,236.74 — a hike of $11,826.74 or 25 percent since the automatic hike became part of the state constitution. The most recent hike came when former Gov. Mitt Romney gave solons a 4.8 percent annual pay raise for 2007 and 2008. The $2,667.33 hike increased rank and file members’ $55,569.41 annual salaries to the current $58,236.74. House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi and Senate President Therese Murray receive $35,000 stipends on top of their base pay. All 40 senators and many representatives also receive additional stipends ranging from $7,500 to $15,000 if they serve as committee chairs or in other leadership positions.
Critics say that the language in the law is vague, confusing and unrealistic and gives the governor too much leeway. They note that the governor is required to use the median household income for 2007 and 2008 even though accurate data for 2008 will not be available until well after he is required to calculate the hike in January. Initial figures indicate that median household income rose four percent in 2007.
Restrict idling cars and buses (S 2628) — The House gave final approval to a Senate-approved measure requiring the Registry of Motor Vehicles to adopt regulations restricting operators of school buses and personal motor vehicles from idling their vehicles on school grounds. The regulations would include establishing the length of time a driver on school grounds is permitted to idle an engine and the limited circumstances under which the prolonged idling of an engine would be allowed. Current law prohibits vehicles from idling more than five minutes and applies to all vehicles in all locations — not just schools. Only final Senate approval is needed before the bill goes to the governor.
Protect military families (H 4508) — The House approved legislation allowing the state’s insurance commissioner to establish and adopt rules and regulations to protect members of the military and their families from unscrupulous sales practices of companies and individuals that sell insurance. Supporters said that when soldiers go overseas, they are concerned with protecting their family and are often easy prey for these misleading and irresponsible practices. Only final Senate approval is needed before the bill goes to the governor.
Stop animal cruelty (H 1527) — The House gave final approval to a new version of a bill increasing the penalty for being present at an animal fight from a fine of up to $250 and/or 30 days in jail to a fine of up to $1,000 and/or five years in jail. The new version eliminates a section from the original bill that made it a new crime to possess or distribute videos or audio recordings that depict the torture of or cruelty to animals. Gov. Patrick had urged the Legislature to eliminate the section because it is unconstitutional and would have prohibited free speech. He cited the case in which a court struck down on free speech grounds a federal law prohibiting the sale of animal cruelty videos. The governor also noted that the creation of the new crime “could result in the prosecution of members of an animal rights group that hosts on its Web site depictions of animal cruelty for consciousness-raising or protected artistic speech in a movie depicting a bull-fight.”
“It seems that Bob and Gerry’s son, Rob, was a student in Brockton and was asked by one of the nuns who knocked down the walls of Jericho. Rob said, ‘It wasn’t me.’ The nun went to the family and told them what he said. Bob paused for a moment and said, ‘I don’t want any trouble, how much did that wall cost?’ — From a State House News Service story summarizing remarks by Sen. Richard Moore introducing retiring Sen. Bob Creedon, D-Brockton, who was making his farewell speech in the Senate. Creedon is the husband of Rep. Geraldine Creedon.
“In discussions with peers from other transit properties, it became clear that other cities, such as Chicago, San Francisco and New York, were exploring running trains with few if any seats to allow for more customers to board. There are pros and cons to this approach, but we feel that it is worth pursuing a high-capacity car or ‘Big Red’ as a pilot on the Red Line to determine how it works for our customers.” — MBTA General Manager Dan Grabauskas announcing a new MBTA trial program. He noted that the trains will have a few seats, designated for seniors and persons with mobility impairments.
“I welcome the challenge.” — Gov. Patrick on WTKK Radio’s Jim and Margery Show. The governor said that he expected a challenge in the 2010 Democratic primary and general election.
“No, because I think it’s an abdication of citizenship.” — Gov. Patrick on WTKK Radio’s Jim and Margery Show, when asked if he supported term limits for elected officials.
HOW LONG WAS LAST WEEK’S SESSION? During the week of Dec. 1-5, the House met for a total of five hours and 32 minutes while the Senate met for a total of two hours and 28 minutes.
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