The Recorder – Beacon Hill Roll Call: April 11 to April 15, 2022

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Beacon Hill Roll Call records local senators’ votes on roll calls from the week of April 11 to April 15. There were no roll calls in the House last week.

Clean energy and reduced emissions (S 2819)

The Senate, 37 to 3, approved a bill that would expand the clean energy industry and reduce emissions from the transportation and building sectors across the state with the goal of reaching net-zero emissions by 2050.

Provisions include creating a $100 million Clean Energy Investment Fund, $100 million to incentivize adoption of electric vehicles and $50 million to increase the number of electric vehicle charging stations; requiring all new vehicles sold to produce zero emissions beginning in 2035; requiring the MBTA to purchase or lease only zero-emission buses starting in 2028 and to convert its entire fleet by 2040; increasing from $2,500 to $3,500 rebates for drivers who purchase electric vehicles; requiring the state to prepare a report on the estimated cost of converting school buses to zero-emission vehicles; and updating the procurement process for new offshore wind energy investments.

“We know climate change is relentless, so we think Massachusetts needs to be relentless, too,” said Sen. Mike Barrett, D-Lexington, Senate chair of the Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy Committee. “No one’s around to give out ‘A’s’ for effort. What matters are results. (The bill) pushes back against global warming on multiple fronts, and with an emphasis on innovation and smart experimentation. It’s about thinking long-range but executing now, in the short term. It’s about problem-solving, confidence and even optimism.”

“Clean energy policy must be as realistic as it is bold,” said Sen. Patrick O’Connor, R-Weymouth. “After over 12 hours of debate, the Massachusetts State Senate voted on a bill that was bold, but not realistic. Although well-intended, the final bill neglected undeniable realities for our economy, workforce and supply chain. My colleagues that voted ‘no’ and I proposed a plan that would have boldly invested in a green future without putting too much strain on taxpayers, but this was rejected. That is why I voted against the final version of the bill.”

“The (bill) will help Massachusetts reach net-zero emissions by 2050 by paving the road to clean transportation, clean buildings and clean electric and thermal energy,” said Sen. Cindy Creem, D-Newton, chair of the Senate Committee on Global Warming and Climate Change. “It is an impressive achievement, one that should give every resident of the commonwealth hope about our ability to mitigate climate change.”

“Many states are trying to provide tax relief for consumers and small businesses due to the high cost of inflation and states having extra money from over-taxation,” said Paul Craney, spokesperson for the Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance. The Massachusetts State Senate is taking another approach by passing a multifaceted climate bill (that) aims to restrict energy supplies and options for consumers while mandating costly alternatives. The Senate Democrats passed a climate bill (that) will eliminate popular and reliable gas- and diesel-powered vehicles, joining the likes of California. This ban will become a significant problem for Massachusetts motorists when their options are arbitrarily taken away from them.”

The House has already approved a different version of the proposal and the Senate version now goes to the House for consideration. The bills will likely end up in a conference committee to hammer out a compromise version.

A “Yes” vote is for the bill.

Sen. Joanne Comerford — Yes

Sen. Anne Gobi — Yes

Sen. Adam Hinds — Yes

Environmental justice (S 2819)

The Senate, 11 to 28, rejected an amendment that would convene a Building Justice With Jobs Task Force to establish the Building Justice With Jobs Plan — a statewide strategy to retrofit and electrify 1 million residential homes over the next 10 years and to implement a comprehensive strategy that extends targeted financial resources for homes located in environmental justice communities.

Another key provision transfers $1 billion in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) resources to the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, a state agency dedicated to increasing and accelerating the growth of the state’s clean energy sector, creating jobs, delivering statewide environmental benefits and securing long-term economic growth. Earmarked funds include $350 million to carry out the Building Justice With Jobs Plan; $250 million to establish a clean energy investment institution or mechanism including a green bank; and $150 million for clean energy infrastructure.

“I am disappointed that our chamber passed up an incredible opportunity to invest in our collective future and our statewide economy,” said amendment sponsor Sen. Marc Pacheco, D-Taunton. “According to the 2050 Decarbonization Roadmap, we need to retrofit and electrify 1 million homes over the next decade to comply with our updated emission reduction laws. By deploying $1 billion of our one-time federal ARPA resources — which revert if unused — this powerful statewide plan would have helped ensure equity, create thousands of new clean energy jobs and ultimately achieve the progress we need to decarbonize our commonwealth. It is imperative that the Legislature invest these federal ARPA funds, which come at no cost to the state. Otherwise, the cost of inaction will simply be unaffordable.”

Amendment opponents said the amendment results in the Legislature giving too much power and authority to an unelected task force in place of the Legislature. They noted the amendment sets a bad precedent and might even be unconstitutional.

Despite repeated requests from Beacon Hill Roll Call, several senators did not respond to a request to comment on why they voted against the amendment, including two key players in the drafting of the bill: Sen. Mike Barrett, D-Lexington, Senate chair of the Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy Committee; and Sen. Mike Rodrigues, D-Westport, chair of the Senate Ways and Means Committee.

A “Yes” vote is for the amendment. A “No” vote is against it.

Sen. Joanne Comerford — No

Sen. Anne Gobi — No

Sen. Adam Hinds — Yes

Divest fossil fuels (S 2819)

The Senate, 39 to 0, approved an amendment that would confirm the authority of local retirement boards to divest their pension funds from investments in fossil fuel companies including those in sectors related to coal and consumable fuels; integrated oil and gas; and oil and gas exploration and production.

“The need for a local divestment option bill arose in 2017 after a local vote to divest retirement funds from fossil fuel companies was ruled invalid, on the basis that they lacked the authority to do so,” said Sen. Marc Pacheco, D-Taunton. “Fossil fuel investments are extremely volatile and in direct conflict with our continued progress toward a clean energy future. This amendment is a common-sense solution that empowers local communities to divest from fossil fuel companies by confirming their right to cut ties with risky long-term commitments.”

A “Yes” vote is for the amendment.

Sen. Joanne Comerford — Yes

Sen. Anne Gobi — Yes

Sen. Adam Hinds — Yes

Electric bus rollout (S 2819)

The Senate, 39 to 0, approved an amendment that would require the Massachusetts Department of Transportation to provide each of the state’s 15 regional transit authority (RTAs) with assistance to create an electric bus rollout plan that includes a goal to transition to zero-emission buses.

Amendment supporters, noting that 55% of Massachusetts residents are serviced by the state’s 15 RTAs, said these RTAs need this assistance to reach the goal of all zero-emission buses.

“I proposed this amendment to support RTAs in electrifying their bus fleets to ensure a sustainable and continued critical service to some of our most vulnerable groups, including riders who are low-income, paratransit, older adults and essential workers,” said amendment sponsor Sen. Harriette Chandler, D-Worcester.

A “Yes” vote is for the amendment.

Sen. Joanne Comerford — Yes

Sen. Anne Gobi — Yes

Sen. Adam Hinds — Yes

Preserve open space (S 2820)

The Senate, 39 to 0, approved and sent to the House a bill that would place into state law a regulation designed to ensure preservation of open space lands protected under Article 97 of the Massachusetts Constitution by ensuring there be no net loss of conservation land when a city, town or the state acquires conservation space and uses it to build on or develop. The land must be replaced with land of comparable acreage, location, fair market value and natural resource value.

“I am pleased that the Senate has passed this legislation ensuring that all Massachusetts residents have access to public land and a healthy environment,” said Senate sponsor Sen. Jamie Eldridge, D-Acton. “Protecting public land is vitally important, and any loss has a direct impact on those who rely on open space lands. Throughout the COVID-19 shutdowns, public lands became an important part of everyday life for Massachusetts residents looking to exercise, spend socially distanced time with their loved ones, and care for their mental and physical health during a time of great stress.”

A “Yes” vote is for the bill.

Sen. Joanne Comerford — Yes

Sen. Anne Gobi — Yes

Sen. Adam Hinds — Yes

Home heating oil spills (S 2821)

The Senate, 39 to 0, approved and sent to the House legislation that would require homeowner insurance policies sold in Massachusetts to include coverage for the cost of cleaning up accidental home heating oil spills. Current law only requires companies to make the insurance available to a homeowner as a separate addition.

Supporters said that remediation and clean-up can cost homeowners anywhere from $20,000 to $1 million. They noted that most homeowners do not have this insurance because it must be bought separately and most of them don’t even know it is available.

“This legislation is a necessity for homeowners’ protection and peace of mind,” said sponsor Sen. Anne Gobi, D-Spencer. “The cost of remediation is expensive and can force residents to seek risky financial maneuvers. It is only fair that the state takes actions to protect its citizens from this danger. I urge the House of Representatives to move quickly on this legislation, too. It is in the best interest of the residents of Massachusetts. This is the right move, and the time to act is now.”

A “Yes” vote is for the bill.

Sen. Joanne Comerford — Yes

Sen. Anne Gobi — Yes

Sen. Adam Hinds — Yes

Also up on Beacon HillNet-zero carbon emissions forum

The House and Senate have approved different bills to move toward net-zero carbon emissions in Massachusetts by 2050. As clean energy policy makes its way through the legislative process, join the State House News Service for an in-person policy forum with key lawmakers and industry leaders on Thursday, May 5, at Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education (MCLE) in Boston’s Downtown Crossing at 10 Winter Place, Suite 4751. Doors open at 7:30 a.m. for networking over refreshments, with the program beginning at 8:15 a.m. Register at

Paid leave for pregnancy loss (H 4557)

The Labor and Workforce Development Committee held a virtual hearing on a measure that would provide three days of paid leave when an employee suffers a miscarriage or in the case of unsuccessful artificial insemination, invitro fertilization, surrogate arrangement or adoption.

“Pregnancy loss is disruptive both mentally and physically,” said sponsor Rep. Jamie Belsito, D-Topsfield. “My husband and I experienced a loss at 12 weeks. We had announced to our families that we were expecting our first child at Christmastime, and three days later I began to miscarry. It was a devastating time for both of us. This legislation gives a little bit of time for affected families to heal. My message to those who have experienced this type of loss or may in the future is that you are not alone, and we see you.”

Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) promotes organ, tissue donation

The RMV is encouraging people to register to become organ and tissue donors. Anyone who has a Massachusetts driver’s license or identification card or who is planning to secure one of these credentials can sign up to be a donor online at Mass.Gov/RMV. Residents can also register at New England Donor Services at or in person at the RMV. For more information on registration and donation, visit the frequently asked questions page at

Make adoption by family members easier (H 4566)

Gov. Charlie Baker signed into law a bill that would repeal a current law that prohibits adoption of children by family members, including older siblings, aunts and uncles. The proposal would allow these family members, with the permission of the county probate courts, to legally adopt their family members. Current law only allows these family members to apply to become a guardian.

Gov. Baker’s office did not respond to repeated requests from Beacon Hill Roll Call to comment on the new law.

“This will help Massachusetts families stay together and give our youth the opportunity to be cared for by those who know and love them,” said the Senate sponsor of the measure, Sen. Joan Lovely, D-Salem.

Mandatory increase in auto insurance coverage (H 1169)

The House gave initial approval to a bill that raises from $20,000 to $100,000 the minimum amount of bodily injury insurance coverage that must be purchased by drivers to compensate the families of those killed in automobile accidents.

Supporters said the current $20,000 minimum is insufficient to help support surviving family members after all the legal and medical fees are paid following the death.

“It is imperative that we ensure that families of those who are tragically taken from us or injured in motor vehicle accidents have the ability to seek compensation,” said sponsor Rep. Alice Peisch, D-Wellesley. “This legislation will not make whole what was lost — rather, it gives victims the ability to seek some peace of mind during the most challenging moments of their lives.”

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