Final Vote on Holyoke Home Bill Planned for Thursday
The Senate plans to give final approval to the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home reconstruction financing bill at a formal session on Thursday, Sen. Will Brownsberger said while presiding over Monday’s session. Lawmakers accepted a compromise version of the bill Monday (H 3770) and attached an emergency clause to the $600 million borrowing bill, which includes $400 million in bonding for the Holyoke facility and $200 million in general obligation bonds for statewide veteran care aimed at regional equity. Sen. Cindy Friedman, the Senate’s lead negotiator on the conference panel, highlighted the need for timely passage of the bill which was originally filed Feb. 11 by Gov. Charlie Baker.
“I know many of us have heard about the sensitivity of timing for this particular bill and that is because the 65 percent match by the [federal] government is in place until Aug. 1. So it is important that we get this legislation to the governor’s desk,” Friedman said during the session. The final agreement incorporates the Senate’s project labor agreement language for the Holyoke rebuild, according to the committee’s 11A report. The two Republican conferees, Sen. Ryan Fattman and Rep. Donald Berthiaume, did not sign off on the accord. The Senate will gavel into a formal session without a calendar on Thursday morning.
CONVENES: The Senate convened at 11:11 a.m. with Sen. Brownsberger of Belmont presiding. Sens. O’Connor of Weymouth and DiZoglio of Methuen were also present.
PLEDGE: Members and staff pledged allegiance to the U.S. Flag.
Sen. DiZoglio sat in the president’s seat behind the rostrum.
RESOLUTIONS: The Senate adopted resolutions filed by Sen. Lovely.
RESOLUTIONS: Sen. Brownsberger invited Sen. DiZoglio to come forward and read resolutions which she had filed honoring the memory of Daniel Ford on the occasion of the dedication of Dan Ford Field in Methuen. The Senate adopted the resolutions.
Sen. Brownsberger said the Senate will stand in a moment of silence in memory of this distinguished citizen.
BROCKTON WARD COUNCILOR VACANCIES: The Senate ordered to a third reading H 3709 relative to city council vacancies in the city of Brockton. Under the bill, “if a vacancy shall occur in a city of Brockton ward city council seat during any time in the year 2021, the vacancy shall not be filled by special municipal election.”
RECESS: At 11:18 a.m. Sen. Brownsberger said we’re waiting for papers from the House on the Holyoke conference report, so the Senate will stand in recess subject to the call of the chair.
RETURNS: Sen. Brownsberger gaveled the Senate back to order at 12:01 p.m.
SICK LEAVE: The Senate ordered to a third reading S 1742 establishing a sick leave bank for Victoria Kibbie, an employee of the Department of Developmental Services.
SICK LEAVE: The Senate ordered to a third reading S 1761 establishing a sick leave bank for Pamela Waldron, an employee of the Department of Developmental Services.
IN MEMORIAM: A Sen. Cyr motion prevailed for Monday’s adjournment to be in memory of Judith Rockwell of West Barnstable, who died March 14 at the age of 89. Reading from a brief eulogy, Sen. Brownsberger said she was born in Middlebury, Conn. She had a career in banking and worked for the First National Bank of Yarmouth in West Yarmouth. Ms. Rockwell and her husband moved to Saint Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands and ran a restaurant before moving to Florida. They moved back to the Cape in 2005 and she was involved in faith groups. She loved to spend time in her garden reflecting her family’s long history of Scottish farmers. She was deeply devoted to the Christian faith.
RECESS: The Senate entered a brief recess at 12:05 p.m. A member of the House clerk’s staff arrived in the chamber carrying a paper.
RETURNS: The Senate returned to order at 12:16 p.m.
HOLYOKE SOLDIERS’ HOME, STATEWIDE VETERAN CARE: The conference committee on disagreeing votes of the two branches (H 3701 / S 2442) relative to financing reconstruction of the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home reported a compromise bill printed in H 3770. [Read: Section Summary | 11A Report]
Sen. Brownsberger said for the edification of members and anyone watching, we are going to accept the report and adopt an emergency preamble, but we will have the main vote on the bill when we’re in a formal session later in the week.
Question came on acceptance of the report.
Sen. O’Connor said through you to the gentlelady from Arlington, on behalf of the minority I wanted to thank the gentlelady for all her work. At this time I would ask for an explanation of the conference committee report before us today.
Speaking remotely, Sen. Friedman of Arlington said the bill before you represents the conference committee report for construction of a new soldiers’ home in Holyoke. Massachusetts Legislature authorizes $400 million in bonds for design and construction. We also authorize issuance of $200 million in general obligation bonds to increase equity and accessibility relative to long term care services for veterans across the state. In passing the authorization for the new Holyoke home, the state will be eligible to receive up to 65 percent in federal reimbursement. I know many of us have heard about the sensitivity of timing for this bill and that is because the 65 percent match by the government is in place until Aug. 1. So it is important we get this legislation to the governor’s desk. The bill ensures construction utilizes a diverse workforce and provides for well paying, middle class jobs. This includes project labor agreement language that mandates a pre-bid, pre-hire labor agreement for construction of the new facility ensuring the workforce is local, diverse, well trained, safe and skilled. Historically, these types of agreements on large taxpayer funded projects have resulted in on-time completion that is on or under budget. It also includes the access, inclusion, and diversity committee to help set and monitor progress of diversity and inclusion goals. I want to thank very much my colleagues, Sens. Feeney and Fattman, and my co-lead in the House, Leader Wagner, for his cooperation and dedication to ensuring we get this bill out on time. Thank you everyone, and I hope that explains what’s in the bill.
The Senate ACCEPTED the conference committee report.
RECESS: Sen. Brownsberger declared a brief recess. At 12:41 p.m. he gaveled back in to say the Senate would stand in recess subject to the call of the chair.
RETURNS: The Senate returned to order at 1:08 p.m.
HOLYOKE SOLDIERS’ HOME, STATEWIDE VETERAN CARE: On a 2-0 standing vote, the Senate adopted an emergency preamble to H 3770 financing the reconstruction of the Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke.
TIME OF MEETING: The Senate adopted an order setting its next session for Thursday at 11 a.m. in a full formal session without a calendar.
ADJOURNS ‘TIL THURSDAY: The Senate adjourned at 1:08 p.m. to meet next on Thursday at 11 a.m.
DISCLAIMER: Bill texts and histories are available at http://www.malegislature.gov/. All votes are voice votes, unless otherwise noted. Bills ordered to third reading have been given initial approval. To engross a bill is to pass it and send it to the other branch. The last of three votes taken on bills that reach the governor’s desk is the vote on enactment. So, it’s third reading (initial approval), engrossment (passage) and enactment. The News Service coverage of legislative debate is an accurate summary of remarks, not a verbatim transcript.