Dozens of House Democrats ventured into the State House on Monday to form a sufficient quorum and complete work on an overdue $3.1 billion spending bill that for days had failed to overcome Republican opposition. Without drama — or public remarks of any kind — taking place on the chamber floor, the House took a 105-14 standing vote to accept the compromise bill. Enough lawmakers were present to constitute a quorum, preventing Republicans who oppose the bill and the state’s evolving shelter crisis response from using the lackluster attendance typical of informal sessions to force a delay. The House wrapped up the day with an unrecorded voice vote to send the measure to Gov. Maura Healey’s desk. Representatives will return Thursday for an informal session, ostensibly returning to a pattern of lightly-attended sessions and a minuscule workload until formal sessions resume in the new year. – Chris Lisinski
CONVENES: The House convened at 10:01 a.m. with Rep. Donato of Medford presiding. Around 20 representatives were in the chamber, including Democratic Reps. Elliott, Consalvo, Cassidy, Doherty, Hawkins, Meschino, Domb, and Connolly, and Republican Reps. Muradian, Jones, Frost, Xiarhos, Barrows, Gifford, Wong, Soter, Smola, and Sullivan-Almeida.
PLEDGE: Members, staff, and guests pledged allegiance to the U.S. flag.
RECESS: The House recessed at 10:01 a.m. expecting to return to order at 11:30 a.m.
There appeared to be a quorum present by 11:29 a.m. Reps. Michlewitz and Jones talked to each other on the dais at 11:31 a.m.
At 11:33 a.m., Rep. Donato instructed court officers to have members take their seats.
Speaker Mariano ascended the dais at 11:34 a.m. and talked with Rep. Michlewitz.
RETURNS/RECESS: Rep. Donato brought the House to order at 11:34 a.m. A Rep. Michlewitz motion prevailed to place the House in another recess, subject to the call of the chair.
Rep. Donato said, All members will please stay in their seats. Court officers, shut the doors.
The chamber doors were shut, and court officers stood guard inside the doors. They opened the doors to let Rep. Haddad enter the chamber.
The clerk, first assistant clerk, Rep. Michlewitz, Rep. Donato, Speaker Mariano, and a Mariano aide spoke with each other in a close huddle on the dais for several minutes.
Reps. Cusack and M. Moran stood together at the rostrum. Rep. Cusack appeared to be taking some form of attendance, looking around the chamber and making marks on a piece of paper.
More than 100 representatives were in the chamber at 11:39 a.m.
RETURNS: Rep. Donato gaveled the House to order at 11:41 a.m.
Rep. Frost of Auburn sought recognition. He called out three times, Mr. Speaker.
DOUBTS QUORUM: Rep. Frost doubted the presence of a quorum.
QUORUM ESTABLISHED: Monitors returned the counts of members in their divisions. There were 116 representatives (out of the 159 members of the House) indicating their presence: 33 in the First Division, 28 in the Second Division, 32 in the Third Division, and 23 in the Fourth Division. Rep. Donato said, A quorum is present.
ORDERS OF THE DAY: Rep. Donato asked if there was any objection to proceeding with the Orders of the Day. He said, Chair hearing none.
FY23 CLOSEOUT BUDGET – CONFERENCE REPORT: Rep. Donato said the first item on the agenda is acceptance of the conference report.
On a voice vote, CONFERENCE REPORT ACCEPTED.
DOUBTS THE VOTE: Minority Leader Jones of North Reading doubted the vote.
By a standing vote of 105-14, CONFERENCE REPORT ACCEPTED. (Voting in favor: First Division: 33, Second Division: 16, Third Division: 32, Fourth Division: 24. Voting against: 14 in the Second Division.)
RECONSIDERATION: Rep. Garballey of Arlington moved reconsideration of the vote. Under Rule 54, Rep. Donato said, the matter of reconsideration will be placed in the Orders of the Day for the next sitting.
TIME OF MEETING: The House adopted a Speaker Mariano order stating, That when the House adjourns today it adjourn to meet forthwith in a second legislative day.
SECOND LEGISLATIVE DAY: At 11:45 a.m., Rep. Donato said, We are now in the second sitting. He banged the gavel.
RECONSIDERATION: Question came on the motion for reconsideration, the first item in the Orders of the Day. On a voice vote, RECONSIDERATION NOT GRANTED.
NO MORE STANDING VOTES: Rep. Donato said, Chair does not anticipate any other standing counts for the rest of this session.
RECESS: On a Rep. Mariano motion, the House recessed at 11:47 a.m. with the time of return left subject to the call of the chair.
At 4:15 p.m., several Republicans including Reps. Wong and Smola huddled around Rep. Jones’s desk.
The House returned to order at 4:20 p.m. with Rep. Donato presiding.
FY23 CLOSEOUT BUDGET: Question came on adoption of an emergency preamble to H 4204, a $3.1 billion closeout budget bill for fiscal year 2023.
BY A STANDING VOTE OF 16-0, emergency preamble ADOPTED.
INACTIVE AGAIN: The House returned to a period of inactivity at 4:21 p.m.
RETURNS: The House returned to order at 4:32 p.m.
FY23 CLOSEOUT BUDGET: Question came on enactment of H 4204, a $3.1 billion closeout budget bill for fiscal year 2023.
The House ENACTED the bill.
ABBY LEVIN: By a 23-0 standing vote, the House adopted an emergency preamble to H 4168 relative to creditable service for Abby Levin, a member of the Massachusetts Teachers’ Retirement System.
WRENTHAM DEPUTY FIRE CHIEF: The House enacted H 3720 authorizing the town of Wrentham to exempt the position of Deputy Fire Chief from civil service.
PLYMOUTH FACILITIES IMPROVEMENT: The House enacted H 3909 relative to the town of Plymouth’s Facilities Improvement Fund.
TIME OF MEETING: The House adopted a Speaker Mariano order scheduling its next session for Thursday at 11 a.m.
ADJOURNS: The House adjourned at 4:35 p.m. to meet next on Thursday at 11 a.m. in an informal session.