The House, in its very last legislative session before breaking for the holidays, voted today on Public Records Reform. True to form, Speaker DeLeo didn't release the proposal until just hours before calling for a vote.
MassFiscal commends our friend Andover Representative Jim Lyons. Jim offered an amendment which would have made the legislature itself subject to the proposed public records law. Unsurprisingly, the chair ruled his amendment out of order. Lyons forced a vote on the ruling, which failed 34 to 122.
On Beacon Hill, it's easier to spot Elvis than it is to see the inner workings of lawmaking. House leadership refused to make their public record proposals available to the public up until today. We’re not surprised 122 lawmakers then voted to exempt themselves from public scrutiny, are you?.
See how your legislator voted on allowing debate on Representative Lyons' amendment on our Legislative Scorecard, which you may view here.
CALL TO ACTION: Call your legislator and tell him or her what you think of their vote.
Today, we challenged the fourteen legislators and four statewide officers to donate to purge from their campaign war chests funds donated by the Teamsters Union. We also asked Boston Mayor Marty Walsh to make public the findings of an internal investigation into City Hall’s involvement in the actions leading to the indictments.
Our challenge comes in the wake of federal indictments on extortion charges stemming from strong-arm tactics used by Teamsters against the “Top Chef” cast and crew during an episode filmed in Boston. The tactics included threats of violence, racial and sexually derisive name-calling, and aggressive picketing.
Indictment documents suggest City Hall may have tipped off local businesses to Teamster plans. Such ties between the union and the city’s permitting authorities are troubling indeed, and we commend Mayor Walsh for launching an internal investigation. We look forward to hearing the results of the taxpayer-funded independent investigator.
The indictments make clear that the Boston Teamsters will go to any length to exert their influence, and in politics, money is influence. The people of our state deserve a legislative process that is free of the influence of what US Attorney Carmen Ortiz calls ‘old school thug tactics.’
Rather than ask elected officials to give back the donations, we have suggested campaign committees donate to charity an amount equivalent to that received.
Below is the list of elected officials who have received Teamsters donations and their office phone numbers as well as the number for the Mayor’s office. Call them and tell them you don’t want Teamsters money influencing our government.
Attorney General Maura Healey (617) 727-2200
Treasurer Deborah B. Goldberg (617) 367-6900
Secretary of State William F. Galvin (617) 727-7030
Boston Mayor Martin Walsh (617) 635-4500
Representative James M. Murphy (617) 722-2240
Representative Joe McGonagle (617) 722-2400
Senator James E. Timilty (617) 722-1222
Senator Marc Pacheco (617) 722-1551
Representative Timothy J. Toomey, Jr. (617) 722-2380
Senator Thomas M. McGee (617) 722-1350
Representative Nick Collins (617) 722-2014
Senator Sal DiDomenico (617) 722-1650
Representative William C. Galvin (617) 722-2692
Representative Tackey Chan (617) 722-2080
Representative Paul J. Donato (617) 722-2180
Representative Ann-Margaret Ferrante (617) 722-2080
Representative Harold P. Naughton, Jr. (617) 722-2230
Representative Adrian Madaro (617) 722-2637
We Wish It Weren’t So...
As we’ve worked to educate and inform voters about the inner workings of the House of Representatives, we’ve noticed a disturbing trend. Thanks to Insta Trac, one of Boston’s most respected legislative research firms, we’ve confirmed that Massachusetts representatives have taken fewer non-procedural roll call votes this year than in any other in the past twenty. (Data are not reliable for years prior to 1995.)
"The math is pretty simple[,]" the Boston Globe reports, "First, take the total roll call votes that lawmakers cast between January and July, before their summer recess. Then, strip out veto overrides and related votes, which represent more reaction to the governor than proactive policy. And voila, you’re left with the lowest spring vote total in two decades: 125."
Fewer roll call votes is bad news for good lawmaking. When legislators work under the cover of voice votes and skip the debate on important issues, accountability suffers.
We at MassFiscal believe the decrease in roll call votes is an unintended consequence of our work to educate voters on the actions of their legislators. The decline in roll call votes began just after we began our mail advocacy campaign last year and has paralleled our increased education efforts. Our comprehensive advocacy includes the Legislative Scorecard, an on-line record of every representative’s most important vote catalogued in an easy-to-understand format; letters to the editor and opinion pieces; and direct mail, radio, newspaper, and web advertisements.
Because we’ve made it easier for voters to know what their representative is up to, House leadership has made that information harder to discover by not voting. The House of Representatives has only voted on 33 significant votes this year. This is a drastic deviation from the average number of significant votes over the twenty year period: approximately 91.
Despite the increased challenge, we at MassFiscal vow to continue to educate and inform the citizens of our state.
Executive director of MassFiscal Paul Craney said, "Our advocacy work has been extremely effective. The coalition of voters who demand fiscally responsible, accountable government grows stronger every day. I'm disappointed the Legislature has chosen a duck-and-cover response to our efforts. Hiding may be an effective short-term strategy, but in the long term, open government will win out."