Massachusetts lawmakers re-pass vetoed climate bill


The Massachusetts state legislature again passed a sweeping climate change bill, setting the stage for a potential showdown with Gov. Charlie Baker.

The governor had “reluctantly” vetoed the legislation earlier this month. Although Baker said he largely supported the bill’s goals, he argued some of its provisions were misguided, overly ambitious, costly, and potentially damaging to the housing development market.

Because the bill, “An Act Creating a Next-Generation Roadmap for Massachusetts Climate Policy,” was first passed right before the legislative session ended, Baker couldn’t send it back in time for amendments. Similarly, lawmakers didn’t have enough time to override the veto.

Following Baker’s decision, Senate President Karen E. Spilka and House Speaker Ronald Mariano vowed to immediately refile the bill in the new legislative session. Now, both chambers have passed the bill a second time, and sent it back to the governor’s desk on January 28.

The bill retains the same host of ambitious environmental, social, and clean energy goals. Many provisions are designed to help boost the state’s solar market, including net metering changes and a long-awaited tax compromise to provide greater certainty.

In a statement, Spilka said, “Time is of the essence, and we could not let a delay hamper our efforts to protect future generations.”

Several energy and environmental groups had denounced Baker’s veto, and applauded the state legislature for following through on its promise to resurrect the bill.

“Passing climate change and environmental justice legislation twice in a month sends a clear message: urgent challenges demand urgent action,” said Stephan Roundtree Jr., Northeast director of Vote Solar.

If a compromise is needed, there’s enough time in the new legislative session for lawmakers and Baker to negotiate. However, because the bill passed with a supermajority, the legislature could override a potential veto.

According to local reports, a spokesperson for the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs said the Baker administration “looks forward to engaging in productive discussions with lawmakers and stakeholders.”

To learn more about what’s in the bill, please see pv magazine USA‘s coverage here.

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