Gov. Charlie Baker will have another busy week considering all the last-minute legislation passed by lawmakers during last Sunday’s all-nighter that closed out formal sessions on Beacon Hill.
Last Friday, “Governor Baker signed 10 pieces of legislation,” Terry MacCormack, the governor’s press secretary, said in a statement. He had signed a dozen more, including the state budget, the day before.
On the bills now remaining, the administration would not say whether it planned to sign, veto or amend the Legislature’s work. Baker has told reporters in the past that he prefers not to get ahead of the lawmakers and his team’s standard response, that they will carefully review the legislation, was again issued on Sunday.
Baker has until Wednesday to sign or amend a $11.3 billion infrastructure and climate bond bill.
The bill directs $400 million toward the struggling MBTA and also invests $275 million in a proposed East-West rail line to link Western Massachusetts with Boston.
Baker’s intentions are, as ever, unclear. He filed the original bond bill in March with a price tag of $9.7 billion. The out-going governor has been clear that he wants to make use of as much of the federal government’s money in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law as possible while those funds remain available.
There is some chance Baker changes the bill to chase more of those federal dollars, which House Speaker Ron Mariano, at a June Chamber of Commerce meeting, suggested the governor wanted to do since he wasn’t seeking a third term and it was his last chance to leave a legacy.
By Thursday the governors will have to decide on bills to wage clean energy and offshore wind equity in the cannabis industry, regulating sports ring; updating information technology for the judiciary; addressing barriers to mental health care, as well as dozens of bills related to local matters in cities and towns.
The mental health bill is a priority of both Mariano and Senate President Karen Spilka, and would require insurance coverage for mental health screenings and same-day psychiatric appointments.
Sports betting cleared the Legislature in the waning moments of the session after lawmakers finally found a compromise on Mariano’s pro-college betting stance and Spilka’s insistence to leave college sports out, as requested by a group of the state’s leading colleges and universities. In the end, an agreement was struck to allow betting on big-time national games and tournaments, but prohibit betting on Bay State schools.
Baker could sign the bill as written, or amend it, but can only use his line item veto power on spending bills. The governor has said he hoped to be able to sign the bill into law before he leaves office.