189th House Scorecard - 2015-2016


Every two years, you elect your State Representative. But what happens after that? Where do they stand on the issues of the day on Beacon Hill? How do they vote on the bills that come before the House of Representatives during the two-year legislative session?

Every year, Progressive Massachusetts puts together a scorecard of Legislators' votes, zeroing in on those roll call votes that often can show the distinction between a progressive legislator, and everyone else.

With the Progressive Mass scorecard, you can see how your State Representative votes, helping the public understand where he or she stands on specific policies, and giving you the information to better advocate for the issues that you care about, and even influence your vote in election years.

The scorecard for the first year of the 2015-2016 legislative session is below.


  • [P] = Member is part of the House Progressive Caucus;
  •  +  = Progressive position;
  •  -  = Did not vote with the progressive position;
  • [NV] = No vote taken (legislator not present)
  • [NVP] = Legislator voted "Present" (neither Y or N)


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2015: A Terrific Year for Us -- And the Work Ahead in 2016

20152016.jpgThree years ago we kicked off Progressive Massachusetts with the idea that progressives working together across the Commonwealth on a member-driven agenda could become a powerful grassroots influence on Beacon Hill. Every day we move closer to that goal.

Help us celebrate our growing successes by joining us on Jan. 23 -- and renew your membership and commitment to Progressive Mass at the same time! 

"Member-driven" must also mean "member-financed." Your commitment is crucial to our work together. Please make your contribution for 2016 now, so we have the resources to keep fighting!

Your 2016 membership also comes with a ticket to ourthe Jan. 23 Winter Fundraiser, where we will hear from legislators and allies about the challenges ahead for our key legislative priorities

This was Progressive Massachusetts’s biggest year yet, locally and statewide.

Before we dive into 2016, I want to recognize some of the excellent work by our members and chapters:

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Raise Up 2015: A Grassroots Win! (And Next Steps in 2016)

You worked so hard to gather signatures to put the Fair Share Amendment on the ballot.

And I have a terrific update for you --

we_did_it.jpgNot only did we collect 157,000 signatures statewide, we have recently learned that the progressive income tax amendment has enough certified signatures to move on to the next step! We made it!

Thank you, and congratulations to everyone who helped gather signatures. You organized, and you mobilized, and you go this done. 

This was a big first milestone -- and we did it! But the fight for progressive revenue to fund our communities is far from over...

What's Next

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We're Organizing to Take on Guns

america-and-guns.gifTwo recent New York Times editorials (Dec. 12 and Dec. 14, 2015) have called attention to the use of "Smart trigger locks" as an important piece of fixing our national problem with gun violence. Massachusetts can lead by an Attorney General mandate for such smart trigger locks on guns sold in Massachusetts. If Massachusetts takes this step, other states have pledged to follow. Progressive Watertown has made enacting Smart Trigger Locks a chapter priority.
Sign -- and share -- the petition and below, read more about their work, by Progressive Mass member and Progressive Watertown steering committee member, Richard Marcus. To get involved, contact: progressivewatertown@gmail.com

6 people are killed by a design defect in Ford Pintos and Congress rushes forth with safety legislation.  Yet each year in the US, more than 30,000 citizens die to gun violence, and we follow a familiar pattern. A massacre, an outrage, another massacre, another outrage. Then nothing changes.
Congress not only sits on its hands, it ALLOWS it to continue. In 2005, Congress decided to indemnify gun manufacturers from product liability, removing another tool from the common sense toolbox.
Today 88 Americans will die from guns. Tomorrow, 88 more. They still don't act,  the next day another 88. That's 264 in three days! We can't wait for Congress. 
Massachusetts residents, there are steps we can take.  Our Attorneys General have a mandate over public safety, and our current AG has already exercised this mandate when she declared new regulations for online gaming. She can use that same authority to declare that all guns sold in MA must come with a smart tech gun lock that allows only the owner to use the weapon.   
A common sense approach to gun safety would be to treat guns like cars; you have to pass a course on rules, you must pass a test for usage, you must have a license to operate, you must register it, and you must have liability insurance. 
The NRA used to say you needed that for cars but not guns because cars kill more people. Except they don't...anymore. Because manufacturers and insurance companies demanded more and more automobile safety features (collapsible steering columns, seat belts, safety glass, etc.), guns kill more people each year, by a lot. 
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When We Organize, We Win! Housing Victory in Newton

Victory! Newton’s Board of Alderman Grants Special Permit for 28 Austin Street


As reported here, Progressive Newton has been working throughout 2015 with residents and other organizations to make the proposed development at 28 Austin Street in Newtonville a reality.

We are thrilled to report that on December 7, by a 17-6 vote, Newton’s Board of Alderman approved the special permit needed for the project to go forward.

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What I learned about MA’s Public Records Laws from the Olympics

Jonathan Cohn is a member of Progressive Massachusetts and co-founder of No Boston 2024, a group that helped to defeat Boston’s bid for the 2024 Summer Olympics. No Boston 2024 used public records requests to bring new information to the public debate and to shed light on what was happening behind closed doors. They have three requests still pending.

Whether or not you were in favor of the Olympics, this work by citizen activists was an impressive victory, and learning from their grassroots organizing is key for future battles to build a more progressive commonwealth. Jonathan explains below how his experiences highlight the urgent need for public records law reform. Follow Jonathan on Twitter: @JonathanCohn.


Housing_Homelessness_Panel.jpgThe saying goes that sunlight is the best disinfectant. And we saw this clearly with Boston’s bid for the 2024 Olympics.

When decision-making is happening behind closed doors, public records requests offer citizens a way to pry open the door. By submitting public records requests (and having dogged follow-up), we were able to bring to light the conflicts of interest, double-talk, and misinformation in how the bid was being presented and sold to the public, and the ways in which public and private were increasingly becoming intertwined.

During this process, however, I learned almost as much about how broken our public records law is as I did about the Olympic bid.

Here are a few problems I regularly encountered in my quest to pry open this door:

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Public Records Reform: Take Action

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The 189th Legislative Session is halfway over, and now’s the time to check in on how our representatives on Beacon Hill are doing: Have they taken action on our progressive priorities? We’ll be releasing our 189th Session scorecards, so far, soon. (prior scorecards can be found at progressivemass.com/scorecard)

But we can only “score” votes that ARE taken -- and right now, important bills are being stalled -- we need your help to change that.

While we can’t change the Beacon Hill culture, not yet, at least, we can push legislators to hurry up and pass some important transformative bills -- before they go into election year “safe mode.”

Public records reform, a fundamental progressive priority, is at risk of stalling out. Government documents and records are key to government accountability and citizen engagement with the civic process. But access to these records in Massachusetts is maddeningly and shamefully retrograde, an affront to democracy itself

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Progressive Watertown -- powering forward!

progwatertown.jpgOur chapters work on Progressive Mass’s state-wide priorities (legislation, campaigns, elections), such as Raise Up Mass, but they also organize locally around the issues important in their communities. We know that our strength comes from this energy and activism that comes straight from the citizen volunteers, and we want to share their work with you!

Progressive Watertown is one of our newer chapters, and is already off to a vigorous and successful start! Take a look at all they've achieved in their short history and their plans for the coming year, in this report by Sallye Bleiberg. Are you in Watertown/area and want to get involved? Sign up on Progressive Mass, and we'll help plug you in!

The approximately 40 dues paying members of Progressive Watertown have elected a steering committee of 19 co-chaired by Caroline Bays and Richard Marcus.  There are 120 people on the mailing list, welcome to attend all programs which are also open to the public at large. 

Collaborating Statewide

PW has been active this fall in obtaining signatures for several state-wide initiatives. 
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Progressive Newton Organizing for Housing

Our chapters work on Progressive Mass’s state-wide priorities (legislation, campaigns, elections), such as Raise Up Mass, but they also organize locally around the issues important in their communities. We know that our strength comes from this energy and activism that comes straight from the citizen volunteers, and we want to share their work with you!

First up: Progressive Newton’s tenacious fight for the Austin Street project, as part of creating a welcoming community for all and pushing back against increasingly unaffordable housing in their city. Take a look, with this update from Prog. Newton member, Robert Fitzpatrick.

austinstreet.jpgProgressive Newton strongly supports the Austin Street project, a proposed four-story building with retail space and 68 apartments in the city-owned Austin Street parking lot in the heart of Newtonville’s village center.

The Austin Street location is ideal for an apartment building: right on the commuter and bus lines and within easy walking distance of a supermarket, plus dozens of shops and restaurants.

It is exactly the kind of sustainable development Newton needs, especially now as soaring housing prices are putting our city out of reach for many.

For Newton to remain a welcoming and economically diverse community, we need affordable housing and a variety of housing options.

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When Legislators Don't

Obama_Labor_Day_2015.jpgMassachusetts Sets the Bar on Sick Leave

President Obama, at the Boston Labor Breakfast yesterday, announced that federally contracted employees are now to provide sick leave for their employees. The policy sounds very much like the “Earned Sick Time” law that Massachusetts voters passed, overwhelmingly, in 2014.

Indeed the President praised that legislation in his remarks, putting Massachusetts in the spotlight again as a liberal leader for the nation.

There are other similarities -- political ones -- too, between the President’s executive action and the Massachusetts referendum that passed the sick time legislation. Both actions were taken because the Legislators refuse/d to legislate.

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