Beacon Hill Roll Call records local senators’ and representatives’ votes on recent roll calls on overriding Governor Charles D. Baker Jr.’s vetoes of items in the $41.88 billion Fiscal 2019 state budget.

$100,000 For Macular Degeneration Prevention And Treatment (H 4800)—House 127-23, Senate 32-5, overrode Gov. Baker’s veto reduction of $100,000 (from $200,000 to $100,000) in funding for the prevention and treatment of macular degeneration at Schepens Eye Research Institute and $50,000 (from $100,000 to $50,000) in funding for education and support of patients diagnosed with phenylketonuria (PKU) and their families at the New England Connection for PKU and Allied Disorders.

Macular degeneration is an incurable eye disease that affects more than 10 million Americans and is the leading cause of blindness for people ages 55 and older. The cause of macular degeneration is not conclusively known.

PKU is a rare, inherited condition that affects about one in every 14,000 babies born in the United States. PKU prevents a victim’s body from metabolizing phenylalanine—one of the amino acids that are joined together to form proteins. “When the infant or adult is untreated or poorly treated, phenylalanine rises to high levels in the blood and can damage the brain by causing mental retardation, seizures, learning disabilities and emotional problems,” according to the New England Connection for PKU and Allied Disorders website.

Supporters of spending the funds said the funding is important to these groups and that it may lead to a cure and a way to prevent these diseases.

In his veto message, Gov. Baker said he struck language which earmarks funding for programs not recommended.

(A Yes vote is for the funding. A No vote is against it.)

Rep. Dylan Fernandes—Yes

Rep. Randy Hunt—Yes

Rep. David Vieira—No

Sen. Julian Cyr—Yes

Sen. Vinny deMacedo—No

$500,000 For Cummings School Of Veterinary Medicine (H 4800)—House 126-24, Senate 29-8, overrode Gov. Baker’s $500,000 veto reduction (from $5.5 million to $5 million) in funding for the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University in North Grafton. Some of the funds would be used to support bioterrorism prevention by studying diseases that can be transmitted from animals to humans.

Supporters of spending the $500,000 said that the funding is important to Cummings and its four-year academic programs that offer a degree in veterinary medicine. They noted that the school conducts groundbreaking research that benefits animals and people and also has hospitals that treat an estimated 28,000 animals annually ranging from cats and dogs to pet rabbits, parrots, iguanas, and fish.

In his veto message, Gov. Baker said that he reduced the funding to an amount projected to be necessary. Some opponents questioned whether the state should be providing millions of dollars to a private university.

(A Yes vote is for spending the $500,000. A No vote is against it.)

Rep. Dylan Fernandes—Yes

Rep. Randy Hunt—No

Rep. David Vieira—No

Sen. Julian Cyr—Yes

Sen. Vinny deMacedo—No

$150,000 For Children’s Oral Health (H 4800)—House 123-26, Senate 35-1, overrode Gov. Baker’s $150,000 million veto reduction (from $300,000 to $150,000) in funding for the Forsyth Institute’s Center for Children’s Oral Health to expand the Forsyth Kids program focused on children and adolescents and to study the emerging association between oral health status and academic performance.

“The program brings preventive dental care to Massachusetts children of all ages at schools, day care centers, neighborhood facilities, summer camps and public events,” according to Forsyth’s website. “For more than a decade, Forsyth Kids has helped tens of thousands of children throughout Massachusetts receive preventive dental care.”

Supporters of spending the $150,000 said that tooth decay is the most common childhood disease in the U.S. and noted that dental disease can lead to long-term health problems, pain, lack of focus in school, eating and speaking problems, and low self-esteem.

In his veto message, Gov. Baker said that he reduced the funding to an amount projected to be necessary.

(A Yes vote is for spending the $150,000.)

Rep. Dylan Fernandes—Yes

Rep. Randy Hunt—Yes

Rep. David Vieira—Yes

Sen. Julian Cyr—Yes

Sen. Vinny deMacedo—Yes

$250,000 For Stroke Programs (H 4800)—House 149-0, Senate 31-5 overrode Gov. Baker’s $250,000 veto reduction (from $500,000 to $250,000) for stroke treatment and prevention programs, including a $100,000 reduction in funding to educate the public on the signs and symptoms of stroke with a focus on communities that have the highest incidence of stroke.

Gov. Baker also reduced by $100,000 funding to require all primary stroke service hospitals and emergency medical services agencies to report data consistent with nationally recognized guidelines on the treatment of individuals with strokes; and reduced by $50,000 the funding to oversee the operation and administration of designated primary stroke service hospital programs that meet strict guidelines for treating individuals with stroke symptoms.

Supporters of spending the $250,000 said these programs can help prevent strokes and save lives.

In his veto message, Gov. Baker said that he reduced the funding to an amount projected to be necessary.

(A Yes vote is for spending the $250,000. A No vote is against it.)

Rep. Dylan Fernandes—Yes

Rep. Randy Hunt—Yes

Rep. David Vieira—Yes

Sen. Julian Cyr—Yes

Sen. Vinny deMacedo—No

Also Up On Beacon Hill

MBTA Buses Would Honor Rosa Parks Every February—The House approved a Senate-approved bill that would require all MBTA buses to annually honor Rosa Parks on their LED display or on a decal in the front left window during Black History Month of February.

In 1955 in Montgomery, Alabama, Ms. Parks refused to move to the back of the bus and give up her seat to a white passenger. Her refusal led to the Montgomery Bus Boycott, the integration of public transportation in Montgomery, and the modern civil rights movement. She was jailed for refusing to give up her seat and lost her job for participating in the boycott.

Additional approval is necessary in each branch prior to the measure going to Gov. Baker.

Alzheimer’s (H 4817)—Gov. Baker signed into law a bill requiring the Executive Office of Health and Human Services to conduct an assessment of all state programs that address Alzheimer’s disease and to create and maintain an integrated state plan to address and assist in the treatment of Alzheimer’s. The ceremonial signing took place during an event at the Alzheimer’s Association in Waltham.

Other provisions require that all protective services caseworkers receive training on recognizing signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s; require that all doctors, physician’s assistants, and nurses who serve adult populations complete a one-time course of training on diagnosis, treatment, and care of people with Alzheimer’s; require hospitals to create and implement an operational plan for the recognition of patients with Alzheimer’s and dementia and treatment for those patients; and require physicians to report an initial diagnosis of Alzheimer’s to a member of a patient’s family (or a personal representative) and provide the family with information about understanding the diagnosis, creating care plans, and accessing medical and non-medical treatment options.

“Today marks the final step in Massachusetts’ journey toward reversing the course of the public health crisis that is Alzheimer’s disease,” said Rep. Danielle Gregoire (D-Marlborough), House chairman of the Committee on Elder Affairs. “I am so proud that Massachusetts will lead the country, yet again, with this comprehensive legislation that addresses not only those suffering from this disease, but also their caregivers and healthcare providers.”

“Almost everyone we meet these days has a personal connection to Alzheimer’s, as thousands of seniors and younger adults suffer from the disease across our commonwealth,” said Sen. Barbara L’Italien (D-Andover), whose late mother Claire Sullivan L’Italien died from Alzheimer’s last April. “For me it was my mom, who lived in our home with us for seven of the last 10 years of her life as she struggled with Alzheimer’s. Navigating her diagnosis and care taught me just how difficult it can be even for the most informed families …Today, we are making Massachusetts a national leader for those families.”

Opioids (H 4866)—In another ceremonial signing, Gov. Baker signed a bill aimed at combating the opioid problem in the Bay State by addressing opioid addiction, prevention, and treatment.

The measure establishes a statewide standing order for Narcan, expanding access to this opioid overdose-reversing drug without an individual prescription; establishes a statewide program to provide remote consultations with primary care practices, nurse practitioners, and other healthcare providers for persons over the age of 17 experiencing chronic pain; establishes a community-based behavioral health promotion and prevention trust fund to promote positive mental, emotional, and behavioral health among children and young adults and to prevent substance use disorders among children and young adults; and establishes a center for police training in crisis intervention to serve as a clearinghouse for best practices in police response to people with mental illness and substance use disorders.

Other provisions require most prescriptions for controlled substances be provided electronically; permit a patient to partially fill a prescription for a schedule II substance and return to the original dispensing pharmacy for the remaining amount of the prescription; and prohibit the use of drug coupons for opiate drugs.

“Despite efforts to suppress the opioid crisis, families across the commonwealth continue to lose their loved ones to substance use disorder,” said Sen. Cindy Friedman (D-Arlington), Senate chairman of the Committee on Mental Health, Substance Use and Recovery. “This legislation builds upon the work the state has done around opioid misuse and prevention and provides another set of tools to reduce harm, save lives, and increase access to evidence-based treatment. We have a major epidemic on our hands and we have to use everything at our disposal to cure this disease.”

“With this legislation, Massachusetts continues its national leadership in combating the disease of addiction and the opioid epidemic,” said Rep. Denis Garlick (D-Needham), House chairman of the Committee on Mental Health, Substance Use and Recovery. “It lays the foundation for a 21st-century behavioral health system and puts in place strong prevention measures that will help stop this crisis from spreading to future generations and strengthens the provider’s abilities to expand treatment to help individuals, families, and communities that are struggling with this disease.”

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 August 13 through 17, the House met for a total of 43 minutes, while the Senate met for a total of 46 minutes.

Monday, August 13: House 11:05 AM to 11:18 AM; Senate 11:02 AM to 11:19 AM.

Tuesday, August 14: No House session; no Senate session.

Wednesday, August 15: No House session; no Senate session.

Thursday, August 16: House 11 AM to 11:30 AM; Senate 11:07 AM to 11:36 AM.

Friday, August 17: No House session; no Senate session.

Copyright 2018 Beacon Hill Roll Call. All Rights Reserved.

(Bob Katzen welcomes feedback at bob@beaconhillrollcall.com.)(Bob Katzen welcomes feedback at bob@beaconhillrollcall.com.)

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.