By Bob Katzen
THE HOUSE AND SENATE: There were no roll call votes in the House or Senate last week.
This week, Beacon Hill Roll Call examines the percentage of times local senators in 2010 voted with the Democratic leadership in the Senate on key roll call votes.
Beacon Hill Roll Call uses 107 key votes from the 2010 Senate session as the basis for this report. These include controversial roll calls that were not unanimous and/or local.
The senator who voted the highest percentage of times with the Democratic leadership is Sen. Joan Menard (D-Fall River). She supported the leadership 99 percent of the time.
Other senators in the list of top ten supporters of the leadership are, not surprisingly, all Democrats, including Sens. Frederick Berry (D-Peabody), 98.9 percent; Steven Panagiotakos (D-Lowell), 97.0 percent; John Hart (D-South Boston), 96.1 percent; Anthony Petruccelli (D-East Boston), 95.3 percent; Jennifer Flanagan (D-Leominster), 94.6 percent; Stanley Rosenberg (D-Amherst), 94.3 percent; Steven Tolman (D-Brighton), 93.4 percent; Thomas Kennedy (D-Brockton), 92.2 percent; and Thomas McGee (D-Lynn), 92.1 percent.
The senator who voted the lowest percentage of times with the Democratic leadership is Sen. Bob Hedlund (R-Weymouth). He supported the leadership only 21.1 percent of the time.
Other senators in the list of top ten opponents of the leadership include Sen. Susan Tucker (D-Andover), 63.5 percent; Susan Fargo (D-Lincoln), 66.3 percent; Jamie Eldridge (D-Acton) and Patricia Jehlen (D-Somerville), both at 68.2 percent; and Sonia Chang-Diaz (D-Jamaica Plain), 69.1 percent.
Also on Beacon Hill STANDARDIZED POLICE ID CARD (S 2649) — The Senate approved and sent to the House a bill establishing a procedure to provide high-tech, standardized photo identification cards to state, local and MBTA police officers. The expenses would be funded by federal homeland security funds and the new, secure cards would be created by the same company that issues Massachusetts driver’s licenses.
The House approved a bill amending current law that allows a homeowner to file a “homestead declaration” that protects up to $500,000 of the amount of equity in his or her single family home or condominium from seizure by creditors. The declaration does not provide protection against outstanding taxes, court-ordered support payments, first or second mortgages and any debts incurred prior to filing the homestead declaration.
The legislation would retain the right to file for up to $500,000 of protection but also provide an automatic homestead of up to $125,000 without the homeowner having to file any documents. Other new provisions would allow a homestead to be declared on property held in trust and on two- to four-family dwellings. The measure also prohibits refinancing of a mortgage from affecting a prior homestead.
Supporters said the proposal would expand the homestead law and protect more homeowners from their homes being seized by creditors. They noted it also clarifies current law, which is vague on what effect the refinancing of a mortgage has on a homestead and whether or not a homestead can be declared on a property held in trust.
BAN SALE OF NOVELTY CIGARETTE LIGHTERS — A law that bans the sale of novelty lighters, which was approved by the Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Patrick in August, went into effect last week. The ban prohibits the sale of these toy-like lighters that appeal to children 10 years of age or younger. They include ones that resemble cartoon characters, toys, guns, musical instruments, vehicles or animals.
Supporters said children often mistake these lighters for toys and noted the lighters are responsible for fires, injuries and death.
QUOTABLE QUOTES – Special Campaign 2012 Edition
“Scott Brown’s got a big pile of money in the bank. He’s been collecting from special interests all over the country, and the Supreme Court decision allows corporate interests to put unlimited amounts into an election that we expect will be put to use on Scott Brown’s behalf. We’re going to battle that with shoe leather on the ground.”
Massachusetts Democratic Party Chairman John Walsh
“I think people will look at the political landscape and see that Scott is the only Republican in an all-Democrat delegation, and I find it hard to believe they’re going to oust him because they’re going to want to retain some sense of a two-party balance.”
Scott Brown adviser Eric Fehrnstrom
“I think none of us is entitled to these positions, none of us — newcomers, old-timers, none of us. They have to be earned every day. These positions belong to the voters and he (Brown) will have to earn re-election should he choose to pursue it in 2012.”
Gov. Deval Patrick
“It’s no surprise that I’m the biggest target.”
U.S. Sen. Scott Brown, commenting on the Democrats’ plan to try to defeat him in 2012
“Bobbleheads are $20 each.”
From the store portion of Scott Brown’s website, which sells several items, including a Scott Brown bobblehead doll
HOW LONG WAS LAST WEEK’S SESSION? 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 November 8-12, the House met for a total of one hour and nine minutes while the Senate met for a total of 33 minutes.
Bob Katzen welcomes feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org.