Baker Wrapped Up Legislative Work From Home

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BOSTON (State House News Service) - Charlie Baker dove back into state business Thursday morning after his "lone walk," working from home as his term as governor expired to sign 61 bills while allowing two others to die.

Baker's press office -- whose members sent out their own farewell messages just minutes later -- announced the outgoing governor cleared his desk of the 92 bills that had piled up in the final stretch of lawmaking, namely during marathon House and Senate sessions on Tuesday, for the 2021-2022 session.

Only two of those bills did not win the Republican's approval. Baker pocket vetoed a measure dealing with retirement eligibility for judicial officials (H 5149) and a bill establishing a 25 mph speed limit on parts of a state road in Milton (S 3124).

Baker did not offer any explanation for why he allowed both bills to expire without a signature, writing in a letter to legislative clerks, "I object to and do not approve the following legislation."

All of the other bills secured Baker's signature and will become law as he departs office and the lawmaking process, which will now play out under newly inaugurated Gov. Maura Healey, resets.

Baker signed 29 bills during the day on Wednesday, before his ceremonial "lone walk" out of the building that represents a return to civilian life. He signed another 61 bills on Thursday, doing so from his Swampscott home instead of the governor's State House office, a spokesperson said.

Some of the newest laws represent additions to the term's legislative accomplishments, including a postpartum care bill that will allow eligible Bay Staters to remain covered by MassHealth 12 months after their pregnancy ends (S 2731) and one bill that supporters dubbed a "Foster Parents' Bill of Rights" (S 2980).

That bill will require the Department of Children and Families to roll out a new policy framework outlining options that foster parents have navigating the system and how the state must treat them.

Under the law, DCF must communicate with parents about options for financial aid and other payments they can receive for fostering children, develop a standardized "pre-service training" for foster parents, and provide foster parents with information before placement about a foster child's physical and behavioral health, history of trauma and high-risk behavior, and education needs.

Another law Baker signed (H 5356) seeks to rein in the theft of motor vehicle catalytic converters by implementing new record-keeping requirements for transactions, including information about sellers, prices paid and legal ownership. Businesses would need to make those records available to local police chiefs.

The vast majority of the bills Baker signed are smaller-scale, dealing with things like town charters, sick leave banks and disability pensions.

Those still took some substantial legwork -- Baker spokesperson Anisha Chakrabarti said Wednesday that the governor's office was working "to contact dozens of these cities and towns so they can review the language in the next several hours and provide input before the bills expire."

Written by Chris Lisinski

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