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Beacon Hill Roll Call

Volume 38 - Report No. 52

December 28, 2012

Copyright © 2012 Beacon Hill Roll Call. All Rights Reserved.

THE HOUSE AND SENATE: There were no roll calls in House or Senate last week. Both branches were busy as the 2012 session neared its end. The House and Senate, with only a handful of legislators in attendance, approved dozens of bills. Many were local measures affecting only one city or town but several were important pieces of legislation that if signed into law will have an effect statewide.

NEW SYMBOL AND FEWER NUMBERS AND LETTERS ON LICENSE PLATES (H 4369) - House and Senate have approved slightly different versions of legislation that would require all Mass. license plates to feature a symbol, like a star, diamond or heart, along with numbers and letters. This system would replace the current system, which has six random letters and numbers.

Supporters said new plates would make it easier for adults and children to remember license plate registrations and report them to law enforcement officials to track down vehicles used in child kidnappings and other crimes. They cited studies showing both children and adults have trouble recalling the current plates that have six letters. Current specialty, low number or vanity plates would be exempt from the new requirement because they are already easily recognizable.


FLU SHOTS (H 3948) - The House and Senate approved a bill requiring that in August and September all public schools and early education providers distribute to parents information about the benefits of a flu shot for children aged six to 18. This information would include the causes and symptoms of the disease, how it is spread, how to obtain additional information and the effectiveness and risks of the shots. Only final approval is needed in each branch prior to the measure going to the governor.


STUDENTS AND EPINEPHRINE (H 3959) - The House and Senate approved a bill allowing students with life-threatening allergies to possess and self-administer epinephrine on school grounds. The measure would add epinephrine to the current list of medicines allowed to be carried and self-administered by students including prescription inhalers for asthma sufferers, enzyme supplements for students with cystic fibrosis and insulin for diabetics. Only final Senate approval is needed before the bill goes to the governor.


NATIONAL BACKGROUND CHECK ON TEACHERS (H 4307) - The House approved and sent to the Senate a bill that would require national fingerprint-based background checks be part of a background check on all applicants for teaching positions and any other public or private school jobs who have direct contact with children. The measure would also apply to family child care, center-based child care and after-school programs. Currently the state is only required to conduct a statewide background check that covers crimes committed in Massachusetts. The measure would also require current teachers and other employees to be fingerprinted prior to the 2016-2017 school year.


INCREASE POWER OF TREE WARDENS (H 1839) - The House gave initial approval to a measure expanding the powers of local tree wardens to enforce state and local laws prohibiting cutting or otherwise damaging public trees. A key provision raises the fines that can be imposed for damaging or destroying trees. Another provision establishes new education requirements a potential tree warden is required to fulfill prior to being appointed.

Bob Katzen welcomes feedback at

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