In defiance of Governor Baker, the Legislature returns climate bill he vetoed
In an act of legislative defiance, state lawmakers on Thursday passed a bill identical to one vetoed this month by Governor Charlie Baker that would make Massachusetts one of the nation’s leading states in addressing climate change.
The bill would require the state to reduce its carbon emissions by 50 percent below 1990 levels by the end of the decade and effectively eliminate those emissions by 2050.
“For the climate bill, this is resurrection day,” said state Senator Michael Barrett, one of the bill’s chief sponsors and lead negotiators. “It isn’t the rule that major legislation leaps lightly across time from one session to the next.”
Baker’s veto of the original bill couldn’t be overridden because the governor rejected it after thelegislative session had expired. That meant lawmakers had to approve a new bill, which Baker now has 10 days to sign, veto, or return with proposed amendments.
In a five-page letter Baker sent to the Legislature upon vetoing the bill, he said he would likely have proposed amendments to the legislation had he been given more time. It’s unclear what he will do now.
In a statement, Baker administration officials called the new bill “an opportunity to craft the best possible legislation.”
“The administration looks forward to engaging in productive discussions with lawmakers and stakeholders to ensure the bill . . . achieves climate goals in a manner that is cost-effective and equitable, and builds upon the Commonwealth’s longstanding, bipartisan leadership on climate change,” said Craig Gilvarg, a spokesman for the state Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs.
If Baker returns the bill with amendments, the Legislature can accept, reject, or further amend them.
Before voting to approve the bill Thursday, state Representative Thomas Golden, a Lowell Democrat and lead sponsor of the bill in the House, called the Legislature’s action “historic” and thanked the House speaker and Senate president for “holding the line.”