Worries mount over climate change bill

Could Gov. Charlie Baker veto the climate change bill?

It seems hard to believe, but several supporters of the sweeping legislation say they are hearing troubling reports coming out of the Baker administration as the clock winds down to the Thursday night deadline.

Some advocates and lawmakers, who asked not to be identified, said they are hearing the governor could possibly veto the bill. “I’m worried,” said one of the people.

The legislation, which is viewed as a tool kit for achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050, includes a lot of tools the administration wants – energy efficiency standards for appliances, authorization for much larger offshore wind procurements, introduction of the term “environmental justice” into state law, and increased funding for the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center. If signed into law, advocates say the measure would be the most ambitious climate bill in the nation. 

But there are also provisions in the bill the administration isn’t thrilled about. The bill is prescriptive, requiring the administration to set emission goals in five-year instead of 10-year increments. The measure also requires the establishment of specific targets in six industrial sectors – electric power, transportation, commercial and industrial heating and cooling, residential heating and cooling, industrial processes, and natural gas distribution and service. 

Perhaps the biggest issue is the legislation’s emissions goal for 2030. The bill calls for a 50 percent reduction below 1990 levels, but the administration favors a 45 percent target. Kathleen Theoharides, the governor’s secretary of energy and environmental affairs, has said 50 percent would be “unnecessarily disruptive” to the economy and costly for those people who can least afford it.

“Forty-five percent hits that balance of being aggressive enough to ensure we get to net zero while not being cost-prohibitive to our economy,” she said.

Normally, the governor would just send the bill back with amendments changing some provisions to his own liking and a back and forth between the administration and the Legislature would ensue. But after the bill sat in a conference committee for more than five months, the Legislature approved it on January 4 and went out of existence the next day, when new lawmakers for the 2021-2022 session were sworn in. 

The timing means, according to most analysts, that Baker can only sign the bill into law or veto it in its entirety. The two other major bills sitting on the governor’s desk, which deal with economic development and transportation bonding, are spending authorizations where the governor can exercise his line-item veto. 

One source said administration officials are upset about being boxed in to an up or down decision on the climate change bill. The source said the administration is exploring whether there is any way to amend the bill and even considering a veto.

“I’m hopeful that Gov. Baker can see all of the many benefits of this bill,” said one advocate. “It would be heartbreaking if it doesn’t pass.”

 BRUCE MOHL

 

FROM COMMONWEALTH

If he runs for mayor of Boston, William Gross would face hurdles and opportunities as the city’s black police commissioner.

An edit of a funding resolution for the I-90 Allston interchange avoids a clash between Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack and Joseph Aiello, the chair of the MBTA’s Fiscal and Management Control Board.

An attorney representing a prisoner at a maximum security state prison said her client told a correctional officer that he was contemplating suicide and was told: “Go ahead, kill yourself.”

Turnout numbers for the November election highlight wealth and racial disparities, according to a report issued by MassVOTE, a nonprofit seeking to increase voter participation.

Most planned MBTA cuts will stand even though the state will receive somewhere between $250 million and $300 million in federal stimulus money.

Opinion: Reyes Coll-Tellechea says the threat to democracy that exploded with last week’s invasion of the Capitol is not over. 

FROM AROUND THE WEB

 

BEACON HILL

The economic development bill sitting on Gov. Charlie Baker’s desk includes a provision requiring communities to create an area near any MBTA station, ferry, or bus terminal that allows dense, multi-family housing to be built as of right. (Boston Globe

Four of the six statewide elected officials turn down their scheduled pay hike this year. (State House News Service)

MUNICIPAL MATTERS  

In Natick, people are calling for the removal of a town meeting member who photographs show attended the takeover of the Capitol last week. (MetroWest Daily News)

The Northampton Policing Review Commission issues an initial report that suggests ways to reduce police encounters during traffic enforcement. (Daily Hampshire Gazette)

MassLive profiles Yesenia Santiago, a dedicated US Postal Service worker who contracted COVID-19 and lost her apartment to a house fire, and looks at the challenges facing the USPS. 

HEALTH/HEALTH CARE

In Worcester, there are hours-long lines for COVID-19 testing. (Telegram & Gazette)

Some hospitals are throwing out COVID-19 vaccines with short shelf lives at the end of the day because of strict policies guiding who can receive them, something leading infectious disease specialist Ashish Jha says should not be happening. (Boston Herald)  

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

House Democrats plan on Tuesday to formally call on Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove President Trump from office, with a vote on impeachment to follow on Wednesday if, as expected, he declines to do so. (New York Times) Massachusetts’ all-Democratic congressional delegation supports a second impeachment. (The Salem News)

Two law professors say impeachment is the wrong vehicle for preventing another Trump run for president and Congress should instead look to the 14th Amendment, which allows them to bar someone from office “who engaged in insurrection or rebellion” with a simple majority vote of both chambers. (Washington Post)

Bill Belichick waves off President Trump’s offer to present him the Presidential Medal of Freedom. (Boston Globe)

ELECTIONS

Support grows for doing away with the possibility of a summer special election for mayor of Boston and letting the new mayor be chosen through the regularly scheduled fall election cycle. (Boston Globe)  

Corporate donors are saying they won’t be giving money to Republicans who voted to question the legitimacy of November’s presidential vote. (Boston Globe

EDUCATION

The Boston Public Schools release a schedule for bringing students back for part-time “hybrid” in-person learning. (Boston Globe)

Early education leaders blast the Baker administration for not including their centers in its new statewide COVID surveillance testing initiative. (Boston Globe)

Dalton homeowners are facing a sharp rise in property tax bills as the cost of a new regional high school starts to be paid. (Berkshire Eagle)

A high school senior is accepted to Howard University at the end of a year that exacted a brutal toll on her family. (GBH)

Worcester area colleges are planning to bring students back for the spring semester, but generally not until late January or early February. (Telegram & Gazette)

ARTS/CULTURE

183 of the state’s cultural nonprofits, including five in Berkshire County, have received a total of $10 million in state aid from the Massachusetts Cultural Council. (Berkshire Eagle)

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

Some homeowners are choosing to let their lawns become meadows. (Daily Hampshire Gazette)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

Embattled Methuen police chief Joseph Solomon retires amid questions about whether he used his position to benefit his own interests. Questions remain about the size of his pension and any payout for unused benefits. (Eagle-Tribune)

An attorney for the Telegram & Gazette argues in court that police misconduct may not be as thoroughly investigated if internal investigatory records are hidden from the public. (Telegram & Gazette)

The longtime girls softball coach at Springfield Central High School loses his job over allegations he had an inappropriate relationship with a student. (MassLive)

Two prisoners who were housed at Old Colony Correctional Center died after contracting COVID-19. (The Enterprise)

MEDIA

Boston Globe columnist Michael Cohen leaves his role to launch a subscription Substack newsletter.

PASSINGS

Casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, who grew up in Dorchester and became one of the world’s richest men and a funder of right-wing causes and politicians, dies at 87. (New York Times)