Massachusetts Legislature Not Left Enough, Left-Wing Group Says

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Massachusetts House Speaker Robert DeLeo supported the liberal agenda 77 percent of the time in key votes during the current legislative session, a left-wing organization said.

The powerful House Speaker is widely considered a brake on left-wing legislation in the state Legislature, but his voting record shows he’s with the left the vast majority of the time.

Still, Progressive Massachusetts, which released a legislative scorecard, gives him a grade of C. DeLeo’s voting record is a bellwether for the House, as Progressive Massachusetts notes in frustration, saying that many of his fellow Democrats “have very much bought into this system.” Fifty other members of the 160-member House of Representatives also got a rating of 77 percent, suggesting a high degree of correlation with that the Speaker wants. Thirty-three others scored in the 70s without getting exactly 77 percent, showing that a majority of members vote similarly to the Speaker.

The group’s web site also notes that the Speaker has the ability to water down left-leaning legislation, something DeLeo sometimes does.

The legislative scorecard is based on 16 votes during the current 2017-2018 legislative session (now drawing to a close) that drew the interest of Progressive Massachusetts.

Progressive Massachusetts this session supported left-wing goals like imposing a 4 percent surtax on individuals who earn $1 million or more, encouraging proliferation of recreational marijuana shops, forcing employers to provide coverage for contraception in health insurance plans, maintaining access to public housing for illegal immigrants, hindering enforcement of immigration laws, making it easier to confiscate guns, banning conversion therapy for minors with same-sex attraction or gender identity confusion, and repealing the state’s unenforced law against abortion.

But it also takes what might be termed “good government” stands, like opposing the 2017 pay raise for legislators and advocating for rollcalls of legislative committee votes to be posted online – stances that many conservatives agree with.

Only a handful of state legislators earned top grades from the group.

In the Massachusetts Senate, only four members scored above 90 percent:  Jamie Eldridge (D-Acton), 97 percent; Sonia Chang-Diaz (D-Jamaica Plain), 95 percent; Patricia Jehlen (D-Somerville), 94 percent; Cynthia Stone Creem (D-Newton), 91 percent.

Six of the seven Republicans in the Massachusetts Senate scored in the 20s:  Ryan Fattman (R-Webster), 21 percent; Donald Humason (R-Westfield), 24 percent; Richard Ross (R-Wrentham, leaving in January), 26 percent; Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester), minority leader, 26 percent; and Vinny deMacedo (R-Plymouth), 26 percent; Patrick O’Connor (R-Weymouth), 29 percent.

Republican state Senator Dean Tran of Fitchburg was not included in the scorecard because he joined the state Senate mid-session, after a special election to fill a vacancy.

The lowest-scoring (or least liberal) Democrats in the Massachusetts Senate are Anne Gobi (D-Spencer), 47 percent; Kathleen O’Connor Ives (D-Newburyport), 52 percent, Marc Pacheco (D-Taunton), 52 percent; Michael Rush (D-West Roxbury), 52 percent; Walter Timilty (D-Milton), 55 percent; Michael Brady (D-Brockton), 59 percent; Michael Moore (D-Millbury), (56 percent).

In the Massachusetts House, the most left-wing state representatives are all Democrats:  Michael Connolly (D-Cambridge), 95 percent; Denise Provost (D- Somerville), 95 percent; and Jonathan Hecht (R-Watertown), 91 percent.

State representatives scoring less than 20 percent are all Republicans:  Marc Lombardo (R-Billerica), 14 percent; David DeCoste (R-Norwell), 16 percent; Jim Lyons (R-Andover, leaving in January 2019), 19 percent; Geoff Diehl (R-Whitman, leaving in January 2019), 19 percent); Joseph McKenna (R-Dudley), and Shaunna O’Connell (R-Taunton), 19 percent.

The least liberal Democrat in the House, according to the scorecard, is Colleen Garry (D-Dracut), 40 percent.

That’s the same rating as the two least conservative Republicans in the House: Sheila Harrington (R-Groton), 40 percent; and James Kelcourse, (R-Amesbury), 40 percent.

The Massachusetts Senate currently has 31 Democrats, 7 Republicans, and two vacancies. The Massachusetts House currently has 117 Democrats, 34 Republicans, 2 unenrolled (meaning no party affiliation), 7 vacancies.

In early January 2019, when the new legislative session begins, the Senate is projected to have 34 Democrats and 6 Republicans. The House is projected to have 127 Democrats, 32 Republicans, 1 unenrolled.