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My Opponent's Voting Record

In the two weeks before the election I will be sending out brief reviews of my stances on important state and local issues to help voters understand exactly who I am.

To kick off the newsletter series, I am going to start with a review of my opponents voting record so it's plain as day what the incumbent agenda is. This newsletter will be much longer than the others I will be sending out in the next two weeks as it covers Senator Donnelly's roll call votes for the past two years.

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Donnelly Roll Call Votes, 2011-2012 Legislative Session

 

JOINT COMMITTEE ROLL CALLS ON WEBSITE

  • Donnelly – No
  • Passing of this amendment would allow easy access to the committee votes.
  • Presently a person has to drive to Boston during business hours in order to obtain this information.

VERIFICATION FOR FREE MEDICAL CARE (H 3318)

  • Donnelly – No
  • Inspector General uncovered widespread abuses and errors in the medical services for the uninsured; $17.8 million spent on medically unnecessary claims, $6 million wasted on 13,000 duplicate claims, $7 million used to provide free care to out-of-state residents.
  • Passing of this bill would require applicants Social Security number on their benefits request forms providing verification of the identity, age, residence, and eligibility of all applicants before paying out benefits as well as develop regulations to improve record-keeping and minimize the likelihood of paying for duplicate or invalid claims.

REQUIRE PROOF OF LEGAL RESIDENCE TO REGISTER AUTO (H 4238)

  • Donnelly – No
  • Passing this bill would require applicants to provide proof of legal residence in order to register their cars (prevent illegal immigrants from registering their cars), closing a loophole allowing unlicensed drivers to legally register their cars and then drive illegally without a license.
  • Opponents say allowing an illegal alien to own and operate a vehicle in Massachusetts does not jeopardize the public’s safety- Those who remember Matthew Denice struck and killed by a drunk illegal alien would likely vehemently disagree with that assertion.

LIMIT EBT CARD HOLDERS TO $20 DAILY CASH WITHDRAWAL FROM ATM MACHINES

  • Donnelly – No
  • Passing this amendment would limit welfare recipients from using their electronic benefit transfer (EBT) cards to withdraw more than $20 per day from an ATM machine, and implement a vendor payment system for the non-cash payment of rent and electric and gas utility bills for EBT cardholders.
  • Currently, recipients can simply take as much cash for which they are eligible from an ATM machine and use it for any purpose (including gambling, drugs, alcohol, etc).

WELFARE FRAUD (S 2101)

  • Donnelly – No
  • Passing of this bill would require State Auditor Suzanne Bump to examine her office's Bureau of Special Investigations (BSI) and provide a report on cost-effective ways to improve and enhance the bureau's functions. BSI identified $4.3 million in fraud in the last fiscal year this would help the bureau uncover even more fraud.

PERMANENT SALES TAX HOLIDAY

  • Donnelly - No
  • Passing of the amendment would allow a permanent annual two-day weekend sales tax holiday in August.

DECREASE SALES TAX FROM 6.25% TO 5%  (S 2015)

  • Donnelly – No
  • Passing of the bill would reduce the 6.25% sales tax to 5.6% on July 1, 2012 and then to 5% on July 1, 2013, and would require 12% of the state's revenue from casinos go to the General Fund to compensate for the sales tax reduction.

DECREASE SALES TAX FROM 6.25 PERCENT TO 5%  (S 2350)

  • Donnelly – No
  • Passing of the bill would reduce the 6.25% sales tax to 5.6% on August 1, 2013 and then to 5% on August 1, 2014.

REDUCE INCOME TAX RATE

  • Donnelly - No
  • Passing of the amendment would allow the reduction of the individual income tax rate from 5.3% to 5% over three years. 

TAX CREDIT FOR BUSINESSES THAT CREATE JOBS (S 2015)

  • Donnelly – No
  • Passing of the bill would provide for 10% of the state's revenue from casinos to be used to provide a tax credit to businesses that create jobs in Massachusetts.
  • This bill would make the state more business-friendly and encourage the creation of jobs to help the thousands who have been laid off.

ENERGY POLICY AND ELECTRICITY COST REDUCTION COMMISSION (S2200)

  • Donnelly – No
  • Passing of this bill would create a 19-member commission charged with promoting "public transparency” regarding the effectiveness and economic cost of energy and electricity policies and programs implemented in the commonwealth; it would also review the economic and electricity cost implications of Massachusetts' current and proposed energy and electricity policies.
  • Would be one of the few ways that commercial and individual ratepayers would actually have a say in the cost of electricity, and includes recommendations to reduce the cost of electricity and control the cost of government subsidies and programs.

HIKE TAX ON CIGARS AND SMOKELESS TOBACCO

  • Donnelly - Yes
  • Passing this amendment would make tax on cigars and smokeless tobacco equal to the tax on cigarettes.
  • Opponents say now is not the time to raise taxes on anything, as taxpayers are struggling enough already.

TWO - DAY SALES TAX HOLIDAY IN AUGUST (S 156)

  • Donnelly – No
  • Passing this bill would allow consumers to buy most products that cost under $2,500 on Saturday and Sunday, August 11-12, 2012 without paying the state's 6.25% sales tax.

PERMANENT SALES TAX HOLIDAY (S 156)

  • Donnelly – No
  • Passing this bill would allow a permanent annual two-day weekend sales tax holiday in August.

UPHOLD CHAIR RULING PROHIBITING CONSIDERATION OF A MEALS TAX HOLIDAY (S 2108)

  • Donnelly – Yes (means no tax holiday for diners)
  • Senate President said the budget does not have any tax provisions in it, and as a result is not a "money bill."
  • Passing of this bill would not exempt exempt diners from paying the state's 6.25% meals tax between March 18, 2012 and March 23, 2012 was out of order.

MORATORIUM ON FURTHER STATE MANDATES (S 2260)

  • Donnelly – No
  • Passing of this bill would prohibit the Legislature, until December 31, 2013, from mandating any new benefits that health care plans must cover.
  • Mandates for health care coverage increase the costs for small businesses, families and individuals, and 43 new mandated benefits have been added since 2006 costing $1.03 Billion.

ALLOW INSURERS TO OFFER "MANDATE LITE" POLICIES (S 2260)

  • Donnelly – No
  • Passing of this bill would include fewer state mandate policies, but would still required coverage for hospital and surgical expenses; healthcare for pregnant women, infants and children; prenatal care, childbirth and postpartum care; mammograms; diabetes related services and medication; early intervention services; and mental health services
  • State mandates increase the cost of premiums and make many plans out of the reach of many people.

CUT STATE SPENDING BY 5% (S 4)

  • Donnelly – No
  • Passing of this bill would require within eight months the Governor to develop a three-year plan to reduce state spending by at least 5%, which has risen about 24% under the current administration. 

MBTA ACCOUNTABILITY (S 2308)

  • Donnelly – No
  • Passing of this bill would develop and operate a searchable website database, at no cost to the public, giving access to the complete accounting of all capital assets under the control of the MBTA including operating expenses, monthly ridership data, fare recovery ratios, and financial plans for any proposed expansion projects.

SENIORS ELIGIBLE FOR TAX BREAK

  • Donnelly – No
  • Passing of this amendment would allow more senior homeowners and renters over 65 to qualify for the state's "senior circuit breaker" tax credit by lowering the 10% income threshold to 8.5%. This would allow more seniors access to the $970 state income tax credit if as a homeowner the annual property tax combined with 50% of their water and sewer bill is more than 10% of their total income and for rentors 25% of their rent as real estate tax payments. 

HOLD NURSING HOME BEDS FOR TEN DAYS

  • Donnelly – No
  • Passing of the amendment would require MassHealth, the state's Medicaid program for low-income and disabled persons, to pay a nursing home for a ten-day period to hold the bed of a resident during a hospitalization or other leave of absence from the facility.

SURPLUS FOR LOCAL AID TO CITIES AND TOWNS

  • Donnelly - No
  • Passing of the amendment would require up to $65 million of any remaining state surplus tax revenue to be distributed to cities and towns as additional local aid.

COMMUNITY PRESERVATION ACT

  • Donnelly – No
  • Passing of the amendment would allow cities and towns to use Community Preservation Act (CPA) funds to rehabilitate and improve existing outdoor parks, sports fields and playgrounds.

APPROVE CHANGES IN PENSION SYSTEM (S 2010)

  • Donnelly – No
  • Passing of this bill would change the pension and retirement system for future employees of the state and cities and towns by raising the minimum retirement age five years, from 55 to 60 and increase from three years to five years, the period for averaging earnings to calculate a member's retirement allowance to more accurately reflect his or her career earnings.
  • It is estimated this bill would save the Commonwealth $5 billion over 30 years.

APPROVE CHANGES IN PENSION SYSTEM (S 2018)

  • Donnelly – No
  • Passing of this bill would reduce pensions of state and local employees by raising the minimum retirement age for most public employees by five years, from 55 to 60, and establish a minimum pension of $15,000 for state workers who have spent 25 years in state government.

FUND PENSION LIABILITY WITH RAINY DAY FUND (S 1905)

  • Donnelly – Yes
  • Passing of this bill would allow state's Rainy Day Fund to help reduce the state's unfunded pension liability when capital gains revenue exceeds $1 billion.
  • Supporters said state can afford to increase payments to fund the multi-billion unfunded pension liability, but opponents note that when the Rainy Day Fund reaches a threshold, funds automatically go into the Tax Reduction Fund and eventually back to taxpayers as a tax cut and using these funds for public pensions would delay tax relief for MA taxpayers.

PAY OFF UNFUNDED LIABILITY AT CURRENT RATE (S 2010)

  • Donnelly – Yes
  • Passing of this bill would require state and municipalities to continue to pay off their unfunded pension liabilities at the same rate they are currently doing. Supporters said without this requirement, the state, cities and towns, based on the savings in this legislation, would be free to payoff the liability at a slower rate. 

RETIREMENT AGE AND PENSION (S 2010)

  • Donnelly - Yes
  • Passing of this bill increases the retirement age by only 2 years, 55 to only 57 where previous amendments raised the minimum retirement age for most public employees by five years from 55 to 60.

BAN LEGISLATORS FROM TAKING CASINO JOB UNTIL OUT OF OFFICE FOR ONE YEAR (S 2015)

  • Donnelly - Yes
  • Passing of this bill replaced an earlier proposal that would have imposed a five year ban.

MORE CASINO REVENUE TO GENERAL FUND (S 2015)

  • Donnelly – No
  • This bill would allocate casino revenue as follows: 85% General Fund, 10% to community mitigation to help communities adversely affected by the casinos, 5% to a public health fund to help gambling addicts.

ONLY SERVE TWO -THIRDS OF SENTENCE (S 2054)

  • Donnelly Yes
  • Passing of this bill would allow some drug offenders to serve two-thirds instead of their entire minimum mandatory sentences and then be eligible for parole.

STUDY DRUG DEALER REGISTRY (S 2122)

  • Donnelly – No
  • Passing of this bill would establish a ten-member special commission to study the idea of establishing a statewide registry of convicted drug dealers living in MA.
  • The commission would be studying current policies and methods of tracking convicted dealers role in other crimes and the potential benefits of a statewide registry for public safety.

ALLOW CHILDCARE WORKERS TO FORM UNIONS (H 3986)

  • Donnelly – Yes
  • Passing of this bill would unionize childcare providers who work out of their homes and receive voucher payments from the state.

USE SURPLUS FUNDS TO PAY FOR CHILDCARE WORKERS (H 4334)

  • Donnelly - No
  • Passing of this bill would allow use of money from the state's surplus to fund increased rates for childcare providers who work out of their homes.
  • Would provide much needed funds for these workers, and provide an alternative to forced unionization.

AMERICAN HISTORY

  • Donnelly – No
  • Passing of this amendment would require the state MCAS test to include a section on American history beginning in 2013.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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