The Landscape

Members of the 192nd General Court, including 19 newly elected state representatives and senators, will take the oath of office Wednesday for the 2021-2022 session. Governor Charlie Baker will swear in a quorum of 21 senators outside the State House at Ashburton Park while a virtual ceremony will follow for the remaining members. While acknowledging the public health precautions, newly seated Speaker Ron Mariano has yet to finalize the swearing in plans for the 17 new representatives.

In true COVID-era fashion, the halls of the State House were anything but quiet over the holiday break, with the formal end of Speaker Robert DeLeo’s record-setting rein. Meanwhile, Baker signed the long-delayed police reform bill that creates a mandatory certification process for law enforcement and, on New Year’s Day, Baker signed into law a multi-faceted health care bill that requires insurance companies to cover telehealth visits and expands the scope for advanced practice nurses and optometrists.

Additionally, state House and Senate negotiators reached a detailed agreement on a major climate change bill. The bill, S2995, will establish a “net zero” greenhouse gas emission limit for 2050 and establish statewide emission limits every five years. The bill sets a target of reducing emission below 1990 levels by 50 precent in 2030 and 75 percent for 2040, a possible sticking point with the Baker administration. The bill also addresses a range of other areas from environmental justice to hydrogen power and natural gas safety. Both the House and the Senate are expected to vote on the bill and send it to the Governor as early as this afternoon.

The News