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THE HOUSE AND THE SENATE The House and Senate continued to hold remote sessions with few members in the chambers. Most of the members listened and listened to the debate from their home or commercial office through their computers and voted by phone. The Roll Hill Call call records the votes of local representatives on two calls from the week of May 18-22. Senate last week: $ 1 BILLION-MORE INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY (H 4708) House 149-7, approved and sent to the Senate a bond for information technology of over 1 billion dollars titled "A Law Funding the Commonwealth General Government Infrastructure." The state would borrow funds to finance the invoiced projects. The original version of the package was filed by Governor Charlie Baker over a year ago on April 11, 2019. The current version is the work of the House Ways and Means Committee. Members tabled 189 amendments to the account and two of them were withdrawn, the remaining 187 were brought together in one consolidated amendment which was approved: "This legislation provides for authorizations for major public safety and information technology projects at state and municipal level "Baker said in the message he sent along with the original bill. "The bills will improve the quality, consistency, efficiency and provision of state services to Massachusetts residents, including digital services for health care, housing, housing, ; education, employment assistance, public safety and emergency management, transportation and energy and the environment. ”Hundreds of provisions in the project include huge state projects, including $ 165 million for state telecommunications and data security equipment; $ 140 million for the purchase and implementation of IT, telecommunication and data security items for various state agencies; $ 1.25 million for information technology updates for the House of Representatives and $ 100 million for the vague "government performance and efficiency infrastructure." And then there are hundreds of local projects successfully researched it by individual lawmakers for their districts, including $ 500,000 for New York Buttonwood Park Zoological Society's infrastructure improvements for the animal ambassador and nature education center projects; $ 61,200 to upgrade the town hall's conference room streaming technology for local cable services in Stoughton; $ 15,000 for Medfield for implementing an electronic payroll program; and $ 1 million for Everett for electronic learning devices for all Everett students and virtual professional development, training and remote learning support for their teachers. "In recent months, thousands of civil servants have worked from home," said House Ways and Means President Aaron Michlewitz. “While this has certainly helped us to flatten the curve, it has also put enormous pressure on our IT infrastructure like the Commonwealth has never seen before. We can all share stories from the past two months about the difficulties of conducting business in this new environment. These funds will help ensure that employees can continue to work remotely as needed, while still providing vital services to our constituents. "" The editorial staff of the House of Government … Baker … the bill (proposed over a year ago) has increased state loans by nearly half a billion more than its initial request to finance many add-ons, "said Chip Ford. , Executive Director of Citizens for Limited Taxation. "In this period of crisis – both social and financial, both personal and governmental, with record high unemployment and low-income historical collections both anticipated and experienced – this is the moment wrong to borrow something more than inevitable for an absolutely essential expense. For once, fiscal austerity needs and should be taken into account in the legislature. "A legislator had mixed feelings. "(The bill) contains significant funding for cyber security and public security initiatives at all levels of government," said representative Brad Hill (R-Ipswich). "However, I had strong concerns about the additional loan levels proposed in the consolidated amendment and felt that many of the appropriations were unnecessary. The state is facing an expected drop in revenue from $ 6 billion to $ 8 billion in the budget. next year, which requires us to engage in an accurate balancing act to protect the rating of government bonds from downgrading, ensuring that we can still provide essential programs and services to Commonwealth residents. "" The worst depression of a generation hasn't prevented the Massachusetts Tribunal from borrowing more than a billion dollars today, "said Paul Craney, executive director of the Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance. "Despite over one million unemployed workers and countless small businesses closed, they found a way to make sure their pet projects had been purchased in an election year." "Families are having difficulty paying rent and mortgages," continued Craney. “The workers are unemployed. Countless brick and mortar retail stores, restaurants and lodgings were forced to keep their doors closed. Instead of focusing on these worthy concerns, our Statehouse leaders picked up something from the heap of things to do last January and secured their future during an election year. "(A" Yes "vote is for the bill. A" No "vote is against it.) Rep. Fred Barrows NoRep. Shawn Dooley No Rep. Carolyn Dykema Yes Rep. David Linsky Yes Rep. Joseph McKenna Yes, Rep Jeffrey Roy Yes CONSOLIDATED $ 101 MILLION AMENDMENT (H 4708) House 138-18, approved a consolidated amendment that adds $ 101 million to the cost of the information technology bond of over $ 1 billion. Members tabled 189 amendments to the bill, but none were voted individually. Their sponsors withdrew two amendments and the other 187 were included in this one large consolidated amendment. Proponents of the amendment said that the plans and provisions of the amendment were important elements. They noted that there is nothing wrong with these local brands where members propose to include bills in their districts. Opponents of the change said that many of trademarks are not urgently needed. They indicated the state's expected revenue loss of up to $ 8 billion in next year's budget following the decrease in tax revenue during COVID-19, when the Bay State moved the filing deadline from April 15 to July 15 in addition to the loss of sales tax and other revenue following business closings. They noted that state tax exemptions declined by more than $ 2.3 billion in April compared to April 2019. (A "Yes" vote is for the $ 101 million. A "No" vote is against.) Rep. Fred Barrows NoRep . Shawn Dooley No Rep. Carolyn Dykema Yes Rep. David Linsky Yes Rep. Joseph McKenna No Rep. Jeffrey Roy Yes EVEN ON UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS OF BEACON HILLIMPROVE (S 2618) – The Chamber and the Senate have approved and sent to Governor Charlie Baker a bill that advocates claim will provide additional unemployment benefit to low-income families, non-profit institutions and employers. The provisions include the 30-week guarantee instead of the 26-week unemployment benefit during each week in which there are more than 100,000 claims for compensation; extend the grace period for contributions for many non-profit organizations that self-assure themselves about unemployment claims; protect employers from rising unemployment insurance costs thanks to COVID-19; and the removal of a cap that causes many low-wage workers who do not receive additional unemployment insurance amounts. Advocates have claimed that these provisions make major changes to the unemployment insurance system and will provide emergency aid to both the workers concerned and the entrepreneurs who are trying to keep their businesses afloat. They said it was important that the state continue to support workers who, through their own fault, stopped their income from the orders and executive regulations needed to curb the spread of COVID-19. "We are delighted that the legislator has reached an agreement on this important bill," said AFL-CIO President Steven Tolman. “Since contributing employers are relieved of the charges, it is even more dutiful to take safe workplaces seriously and not to force workers into unsafe workplaces or to threaten workers by blocking their unemployment benefits. We are also pleased to see that the unfairness limit to dependency benefits, which has unfairly disadvantaged low-paid workers, will be lifted. " "In these turbulent and uncertain times, it is imperative to support workers and families affected by the economic fallout from COVID-19," said Senator Nick Collins (D-Boston). "By expanding unemployment benefits and breaking down barriers to accessing resources, the Massachusetts Senate is underlining its commitment to protecting vulnerable residents and workers across the state." "In the wake of the new coronavirus, unemployment has become one of the most pressing issues for the legislator," said Senator Michael Moore (D-Millbury) … "Our job is to support and assist Commonwealth residents and this legislation is proof of this. "" This bill protects employers, including non-profit organizations, and workers as we face the economic crisis in the wake of COVID-19, "said rapporteur Bob DeLeo (D-Winthrop.) VIRTUAL HEARINGS AND NON-HEARINGS – Public hearings at the Statehouse have changed due to the dangers of COVID-19. They were held in person at the Statehouse and interested parties could come to the hearing and testify. These days some hearings are held remotely via Team or Zoom, while others do not take place at all and the committee simply accepts written testimonials. Last week, the Revenue Committee and the Housing Committee only accepted written testimonials on several bills, including: ECONOMIC SURVEY (H 4727) – Provides $ 1,000 to Massachusetts residents with a family of 1 or 2 who earns up to at $ 84,000 per year; Family of 3 earning up to $ 105,000 a year; and 4 or more families earning up to $ 131,000 a year. Each household with an employee will receive an additional $ 500 per employee. Advocates said the measure is aimed at helping poor, low-income and middle-class families. "The goal of this bill is to provide immediate financial help to our residents and families most affected by the economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic." said the sponsor of the account Rep. Tami Gouveia (D-Acton). "This legislation is particularly important for concert economy workers, independent contractors, part-time workers and others who have had to wait weeks and sometimes months to collect unemployment benefits, potentially lagging behind to rent, mortgages or credit card payments. Direct cash assistance may not be our only solution to the widespread and ongoing economic consequences of this pandemic, but it will represent a critical lifeline for our residents who may not have access to savings or family resources to support them at this difficult time. Nationally, these cash assistance systems have garnered bi-partisan support and I hope we can build on that spirit of cooperation here in the legislature. Massachusetts. ”STIMULUM CONTROLS FOR IMMIGRANT TAXIORS (S 2659) – Provides stimulus control to taxpayers than to use an individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN) and who are not eligible to obtain a social security number. State-funded stimulus control would be $ 1,200 for individual filers, $ 2,400 for joint filers and $ 500 per child – the same amounts that are currently provided by the federal government through the CARES law. It will also provide $ 10 million to immigrant aid organizations. According to the National Immigration Law Center, taxpayers who file their tax return with a tax code include undocumented immigrants and their dependents, as well as some people who are legally present in the United States, such as some survivors of domestic violence, Cuban entrants and Haitians, student visa holders and some spouses and children of people with work visas. "" Immigrants play a crucial role in the economy of Massachusetts and we must ensure that undocumented immigrants and their families receive the same financial support provided by other taxpayers through CARES federal law, "said the chief sponsor. Senate Sen. Jamie Eldridge (D-Acton). "In an era of pandemic, more than ever, we must act seriously and provide financial help to all vulnerable populations." While the federal government has not provided direct financial aid to tens of thousands of immigrant families in Massachusetts, the legislator, who reflects the values ​​of Massachusetts, can do so. ”The house manager's representative, representative Christine Barber (D-Somerville), said the bill would fill a gap to support Residents of the Bay State who have been excluded from financial aid by federal CARES law. "Many TIN spinners are undocumented immigrants who p taxes act and contribute significantly to our economy and our communities, "said Barber. EXEMPT ACTIVE MILITARY PERSONNEL OUT OF STATE FROM STATE INCOME TAX (S 2586) – Exempt active military personnel from state income tax while out of state. "A military professional who spends a significant portion of his time serving our nation outside the state should not be required to pay income tax for time spent away from home on active duty," said Senator Patrick O & # 39; Connor (R-Weymouth). “This weighs disproportionately on military homeowners and their families, who already sacrifice so much to defend our country. If approved, Massachusetts would not be the first state to enact such legislation. There are approximately 18 states across the country that have implemented income tax relief for non-state active staff. I think this is a small way of making Massachusetts a better state for military members and their families. FREEZE RENT (H 4718) – Prevents all rent increases up to 30 days after the revocation of the COVID-19 state of emergency. Local cities would also have the power to freeze rents in their local communities. Co-Chairs Rep. Paul Mark (D-Peru) and Lindsay Sabadosa (D-Northampton) said in writing that they had presented the measure as housing is an area where a sudden economic decline would have a significant impact on families, about the state and cities and towns. "The big rental companies are continuing to renew their leases with increases in rents, causing some to have to leave their homes and look for new homes during a pandemic," they said. "Doctoral students were particularly impressed as they suddenly found themselves unemployed, out of school and unable to attempt to increase their rent." "We presented this legislation in response to concerns from commercial and residential tenants in our districts who were already struggling to rent due to the COVID-19 pandemic, only to find themselves facing rental increases", Sabadosa added. "Housing security is not something we should endanger at all times, but especially during a public health crisis. If we are concerned with protecting public health and want to stimulate the economy, it is essential to ensure that people can stay hosted. "DEMOCRATS TAKE TWO SENATE SEATS – Democrats won both special elections for two Senate seats previously held by Republicans. Current representative John Velis (D-Westfield) beat John Cain, a Republican newcomer to Southwick to get the post that former Senator Don Humason gave up after being elected mayor of Westfield. an Moran of Falmouth beat Republican candidate Jay McMahon of Bourne to conquer the district previously represented by former Senator Vinny deMacedo who left the Senate to become director of regional partnerships for Bridgewater State University. Victories reduce the number of Republicans in the 40-member Senate from six to four. The GOP holds only 31 seats in the 160-seat house. WORKPLACE SAFETY CONCERNS – Attorney General Maura Healey today announced more resources to allow workers to easily report workplace safety issues related to COVID-19 in his office. Workers can fill out a simple complaint form on https://www.mass.gov/forms/report-unsafe-working-conditions-during-covid-19 or they can call the Fair Labor hotline at 617-727- 3465. They have the option to file a complaint anonymously. "As more people across the state return to the workplace, the health and safety of our workers is paramount," said Healey. “With continued anxiety and uncertainty about the COVID-19 pandemic, our office has established easier ways for employees to report unsafe working conditions that need to be addressed. We want workers to know that we are here as a resource and we are committed to protecting them during this time. "QUOTES QUOTES" Our first responders risked their lives to protect people during the COVID-19 pandemic. Congress has a responsibility to make sure these frontline heroes and their families have access to all available federal benefits. "— Attorney General Maura warmly urges Congress to approve a bill that establishes a temporary presumption for officers who contracted COVID-19 while on duty if diagnosed within 45 days of the first rescuer's last shift. "Given the demand for critical materials and protective equipment to combat COVID-19, these grants provide the necessary support that Commonwealth manufacturers need to rotate operations and increase their ability to meet that demand. As we continue to fight this virus , this production will support frontline workers and help facilitate our step-by-step approach to the reopening of Massachusetts. "— Gov. Charlie Baker has announced over $ 9.5 million in grants to increase the production of personal protective equipment and other essential materials needed to respond to the Massachusetts pandemic and reopening plan. "Innovative options like this, along with the $ 56 million administration investment to combat food insecurity based on recommendations of the Commonwealth Food Safety Task Force, notev will contribute olly to meet the basic needs of families and individuals during this public health emergency. " — COVID-19 Command Center Secretary and Secretary Marylou Sudders announcing Massachusetts has received approval from the United States Department of Agriculture to participate in a pilot program that would allow families receiving benefits from Food assistance through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) for purchasing food online with Electronic Benefit Transfer Cards (EBT). "There has been a significant drop in child abuse reports in our office and this is raising concerns. From mid-March to mid-May of this year we received 234 reports of child abuse, a 39% drop compared to 386 received in the same period of 2019 … Work and school are often temporary respite from abuse and trauma and classrooms are places where children find caring adults to whom they can safely reveal and those adults are also in charge of the reporters of abuse and neglect. "— Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins explains that restrictions on daily life related to COVID-19 can be even more insulating and dangerous for victims of abuse, especially for those who only place to go is a family shared with the person responsible for the damage. HOW LONG WAS THE LAST SESSION OF THE WEEK? Beacon Hill Roll Call records the length of time the House and Senate were in session each week. Many legislators say that legislative sessions are only one aspect of the legislator's work and that much important work is being done outside the chambers of the House and Senate. They note that their work also includes commission work, research, constituent work and other issues important to their districts. Critics say that the legislator does not meet regularly or long enough to discuss and vote in public view on the thousands of legislative acts that have been filed. They note that the rarity and short duration of the sessions are incorrect and lead to irresponsible late night sessions and a mad rush to act on dozens of invoices in the days immediately preceding the end of an annual session. During the week of May 18-22, the Chamber met for a total of nine hours and 19 minutes while the Senate met for a total of six hours and 20 minutes on Monday, May 18 Home from 11:05 a.m. to 11:16 a.m. Senate from 11:24 to 11:46 Tuesday, May 19 No session of the Chamber No session of the Senate Wednesday, May 20 Home from 11:03 to 14:01 No session in the Senate Thursday May 21 Home from 11:03 to 17:13 Evening from 11:20 to 17:18 Friday 22 May No session of the House No session of the Senate Bob Katzen is happy to receive feedback on bob@beaconhillrollcall.com.