House and Senate members headed into session Tuesday with only a few hours to tie up loose ends on major bills addressing opioid addiction and treatment and economic growth, among many more.
With the clock ticking for lawmakers to take action on legislation before the end of the 2017-2018 session, they’ve managed to agree on major bills addressing environmental spending, automatic voter registration, taxation and regulation of short-term rentals, new civics education requirements, consumer credit protections, veterans benefits and an annual state budget.
On Monday night, conference negotiators also agreed on a clean energy bill.
However, State Senator Marc Pacheco told 22News, it’s “very different” from the bill passed in the Senate, which he said, would have kept the state on track to meeting its greenhouse gas reduction targets.
“And while the bill that the conference committee agreed to will continue to move us in the right direction, it is moving us in the right direction much more slowly than we need to move,” said Pacheco.
Lawmakers are hoping the midnight deadline will force compromise on health care, eduction funding, economic growth, opioid addiction and treatment, and animal welfare bills.
There’s been growing opposition on Beacon Hill to the health care bill, with business groups and others warning the proposals will add cost to the system.
But, State Senator James Welch, told 22News, he’s hopeful before the end of the day on Tuesday legislative negotiators will have an agreement the House and Senate could vote on.
“So, even if the bill changes language, we both had the same goal, which was to try and help our community hospitals, and at the same time, the Senate took approach to really trying to take some steps towards cost containment and that’s really what we’re fighting and advocating hard for,” Welch said.
At the end of formal sessions, the Legislature will have an opportunity to move bills as long as no one objects during twice-a-week informal sessions for the reminder of the year.