Senate overrides cuts to health programs

THE HOUSE AND SENATE: Beacon Hill Roll Call records local senators’ votes on several roll calls on overriding some of Gov. Charlie Baker’s cuts of $320 million in spending in the $39.4 billion fiscal 2018 state budget. A two-thirds vote in both branches is needed for a veto to be overridden.

The House has restored the entire $320 million and the Senate has restored only $75.8 million but plans to override other vetoes in the coming weeks.

House and Senate Democratic leaders say Baker’s cuts would hurt many people including the sick, seniors, children and minorities.

The governor and GOP leaders question if the state can afford to restore all this funding. Some Republicans said that because of this uncertainty they voted to sustain all of Gov. Baker’s vetoes, even though it meant voting against restoring funding for many good programs they would otherwise have supported.


Senate 37-0, overrode a reduction of $2.5 million (from $30,834,416 to $28,334,416) for HIV, AIDS, viral hepatitis, sexually transmitted infections and tuberculosis programs.

(A “Yes” vote is for funding the $2.5 million.)

YES: Sens. James Eldridge, Anne Gobi

$275,000 FOR PROSTATE CANCER (H 3800)

Senate 37-0, overrode a reduction of $275,000 (from $550,000 to $275,000) for prostate cancer awareness, education and research programs focusing on men with African-American, Hispanic or Latino heritage, family history of the disease and other men at high risk.

(A “Yes” vote is for funding the $275,000.)

YES: Sens. James Eldridge, Anne Gobi

$200,000 FOR STROKE PROGRAMS (H 3800)

Senate 36-1, overrode a cut of the entire $200,000 for stroke treatment and prevention programs.

(A “Yes” vote is for funding the $200,000. A “No” vote is against it.)

YES: Sens. James Eldridge, Anne Gobi


Senate 37-0, overrode a cut of the entire $100,000 for a Down Syndrome Program at the Children’s Medical Center at the University of Massachusetts Memorial Medical Center in Worcester.

(A “Yes” vote is for funding the $100,000.)

YES: Sens. James Eldridge, Anne Gobi


Senate 37-0, overrode a reduction of $1.1 million (from $3.6 million to $2.5 million) for recovery high schools — public schools where students can earn a high school diploma and are supported in their recovery from alcohol and drug use.

(A “Yes” vote is for funding the $1.1 million.)

YES: Sens. James Eldridge, Anne Gobi


Senate 36-1, overrode a cut of the entire $150,000 for an employment training program for unemployed young adults with disabilities.

(A “Yes” vote is for funding the $150,000. A “No” vote is against funding it.)

YES: Sens. James Eldridge, Anne Gobi


LGBT SENIORS (S 346): A bill being considered by the Elder Affairs Committee would require the Department of Elder Affairs to develop a curriculum and training program on the prevention and elimination of discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and expression.

The proposal is designed to improve access to services for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender elders and caregivers. The training program must be completed by all services providers who contract with or receive funding from the Elder Affairs Department.

CHILD CARE FOR CANDIDATES (S 386): The Elder Affairs Committee’s agenda also includes a bill amending a current law that prohibits the use of campaign funds by a candidate for personal use. The bill would allow a campaign to pay for childcare services for a candidate while the candidate is performing work or attending events directly related to his or her campaign.

ALLOW NON-CITIZENS TO VOTE (H 388): Legislation before the Election Laws Committee would permit cities and towns to allow non-citizens over age 18 to vote in local municipal elections.

These non-citizens would be eligible only if they certify in writing that they live in the city or town and “intend in good faith to become a U.S. citizen and intend to begin that process, if eligible.” Communities could adopt this law if it is approved by the local governing body and by the voters on a local ballot question.

INSTANT RUNOFF ELECTIONS (S 380): The Election Laws Committee’s agenda also includes legislation allowing cities and towns to use a “ranked choice voting” (RCV) system for their local city or town elections. RCV is designed to ensure the election of candidates that receive an absolute majority, rather than a simple plurality.

All candidates on the ballot are ranked by voters in order of their preference. If no candidate receives a majority of first choice votes, the candidate that received the least number of first choice votes is eliminated. The second choice of the voters who supported the eliminated candidate now becomes their first choice and is added to the totals of the remaining candidates. The same process is repeated, if necessary, until a candidate is the first choice of a majority of voters.

Supporters say the system would prevent candidates in a crowded election field from being elected with less than 50 percent of the vote. They also argue that it prevents “spoiler” candidates from tipping an election and allows people to vote for their favorite candidate without fear of helping to elect their least favorite candidate.

Opponents say that RCV is confusing and does nothing to truly reform an election process that is controlled by fundraising and money.


FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATION (S 788): Makes it a crime to perform female genital mutilation.

Supporters say that 6,000 women and girls around the world are subjected to genital mutilation annually and that 135 million have been the victims of this barbaric act.

They note that the procedure has no health benefits for women and girls and in fact can cause all kinds of health problems including bleeding, urinary problems and complications in childbirth sometimes leading to the death of the child.

BAN DISCRIMINATION BASED ON HEIGHT AND WEIGHT (H 952): Prohibits discrimination on the basis of a person’s height or weight.

Supporters say that overweight people are often not hired or promoted because of their weight and note this type of discrimination is on the rise and is more acceptable and pervasive than race, gender or sexual orientation discrimination.

They argue that often people are unaware they are being discriminated against until after they lose weight and are suddenly promoted. They note that weight discrimination stems from the myth that obesity is a character flaw.

UNIVERSAL SIGNS ON PUBLIC BATHROOMS (H 3046): Requires all public restrooms to post universally understandable restroom signs to ensure that a person with a disability or limited language proficiency has full and equal access to the restrooms. Violators would be fined up to $300 per offense.

HOW LONG WAS LAST WEEK’S SESSION? During the week of October 16-20, the House met for a total of 36 minutes and the Senate met for a total of seven hours and three minutes.

Originally posted on Sentinel & Enterprise:




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