Beacon Hill Roll Call – October 8, 2021 | Columns | –

The House and Senate: Beacon Hill Roll Call records local senators’ votes on roll calls from the week of September 27-October 1. There were no roll calls in the House last week.

Increase Hours That Retired Public Employees Can Work (H 4007)—Senate 38-0, overrode Governor Charles D. Baker Jr.’s veto of a bill that would increase from 960 hours per year (18 hours per week) to 1,200 hours per year (23 hours per week) the maximum amount of time a public retiree collecting a pension is allowed work for the state or local government.

(A “Yes” vote is for the increase to 1,200 hours. A “No” vote is against it.)

Sen. Julian Cyr—Yes

Repeal The Harbor Tax Credit And Medical Device Tax Credit (H 4008)—Senate 33-5, overrode Gov. Baker’s veto of a bill that would repeal the current medical device tax credit and the harbor maintenance tax credit. Gov. Baker supported retaining both tax credits and said they encourage innovation and economic activity in the Bay State.

(A “Yes” vote is for abolishing the tax credits. A “No” vote is for retaining them.)

Sen. Julian Cyr—Yes

Repeal $5,000 Asset Limit (H 4012)—Senate 37-1, overrode Gov. Baker’s veto of a bill that would repeal a current law that prohibits anyone with assets of more than $5,000 from being eligible for Transitional Assistance to Families with Dependent Children (TAFDC)—a program that provides cash assistance and employment support to families with children and pregnant women with little or no income or assets. Assets include things like bank accounts, retirement accounts and cash. Some things do not count as an asset including the person’s house and one car.

(A “Yes” vote is for repealing the $5,000 asset limit. A “No” vote is against repealing it.)

Sen. Julian Cyr—Yes

Repeal $250 Asset Limit (H 4011)—Senate 36-2, overrode Gov. Baker’s veto of a bill that would repeal a current law that prohibits anyone with assets of more than $250 from being eligible for Emergency Aid to the Elderly, Disabled and Children (EAEDC)—a program that provides cash and medical assistance to certain categories of needy individuals in Massachusetts including the physically or mentally disabled, aged 65 or older or caring for a disabled individual who would otherwise be institutionalized.

(A “Yes” vote is for repealing the $250 asset limit. A “No” vote is against repealing it.)

Sen. Julian Cyr—Yes

Study Poverty In The Bay State (H 4016)—Senate 36-2, overrode Gov. Baker’s veto of a bill that establishes a 29-member special commission to investigate and recommend methods for reducing poverty in Massachusetts over the next 10 years and expanding opportunity for people with low incomes. The commission would include 10 members of the governor’s cabinet and other executive branch commissioners.

(A “Yes” vote is for the bill. A “No” vote is against it.)

Sen. Julian Cyr—Yes

Also up on Beacon Hill

Extend COVID-19 Emergency Sick Leave (H 4127)—The House and Senate approved and Gov. Baker signed into law a bill that would provide qualified full-time workers with up to five days of paid leave for COVID-related emergencies and an equivalent amount for part-time workers. The law applies to workers who are sick with the virus, under a quarantine order, caring for a family member ill with the virus, recovering from receiving a vaccine, helping a family member obtain a vaccine or caring for them as they recover from an injury, disability, illness or condition related to a vaccine. It also includes $500,000 for a public information campaign to educate and promote awareness about the program’s availability. The program, first signed into law in May 2021, was set to expire on September 30, 2021. This bill extends the program until March 31, 2022.

The law creates a $75 million fund to reimburse the costs to businesses with over 500 employees. Under the American Rescue Plan Act signed by President Biden, businesses with fewer than 500 employees are eligible to receive a tax credit from the federal government to cover the costs.

Rename Columbus Day (H 3191, S 2027)—The Committee on State Administration and Regulatory Oversight held a virtual hearing on two bills that would designate the second Monday in October, now known as Columbus Day, as Indigenous Peoples Day and recommends appropriate exercises in schools to “acknowledge the history of genocide and discrimination against Indigenous peoples, and to recognize and celebrate the thriving cultures and continued resistance and resilience of Indigenous peoples and their tribal nations.”

Elder Affairs Committee’s Hearing

The Committee on Elder Affairs held a virtual hearing on several bills including:

Emergency Lighting in Senior Housing (S 402)—Requires all senior housing facilities financed or subsidized by state or federal housing programs to provide an emergency lighting system for residents’ rooms for a period of at least 1.5 hours.

“All seniors should have access to the same emergency safety standards regardless of whether they live in a nursing home or subsidized senior housing,” said sponsor Sen. Jamie Eldridge (D-Acton). “In 2018, a constituent of mine, living in senior housing lost power, got injured and then had to be hospitalized and subsequently died. Something as simple as emergency lighting could have saved his life and prevented the injury. In times of power outages, we shouldn’t worry about our loved ones falling in the dark and facing a similar tragedy. We need to protect and care for our seniors properly, and passage of this bill is a step in the right direction.”

Requires Defibrillator and Trained Staff in Assisted Living Facilities (S 421)—Requires each assisted living facility to have at least one automated external defibrillator on the premises (AED) and one person trained in its operation on-site 24 hours per day. The measure forbids a facility from prohibiting a staff person trained in the proper administration of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) or use of an AED from administering this emergency assistance to a resident who does not have a documented or clearly visible do not resuscitate order.

“Currently, there are assisted living facilities that prohibit employees from performing CPR or using other lifesaving actions, regardless of staff training,” said sponsor Sen. Mark Montigny (D-New Bedford). “Individuals residing in assisted living facilities rely on the facilities for care in their everyday lives, as well as when health problems arise. CPR and AEDs are both effective lifesaving interventions that properly trained staff should be able to provide to residents. These changes will allow staff to save residents and grant family members peace of mind knowing that their loved ones are cared for properly.”

Pilot Program for Restaurants to Provide Prepared Meals to Qualifying Adults Over 60 (S 432)—Creates a pilot program for restaurants to provide prepared meals to welfare recipients over age 60 who are eligible for the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) and who are also at increased risk of suffering complications from COVID-19. The restaurants would be paid for the cost of the meals by the state.

“I filed this bill to promote both food security and economic recovery,” said sponsor Sen. Walter Timilty (D-Milton). He noted that the proposal is in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has resulted in both significant loss of life and severe economic hardship.

“According to the Centers for Disease Control, the risk of severe illness with COVID-19 increases with age, with older adults at the highest risk,” continued Timilty. “As of September 22, 2021, more than 77 percent of total deaths resulting from COVID-19 have occurred in individuals 65 years of age and older. Additionally, economic hardship has been felt by individuals and small business owners across this country. Restaurants have experienced extreme financial loss due to COVID-19 and continue to adapt their services as they struggle to stay in business.”

Copyright © 2021 Beacon Hill Roll Call. All Rights Reserved.