The Massachusetts Legislature wrapped up formal sessions for this two-year legislative session. As has been typical lately, legislators left many major issues until the last day of session including some major legislation that did not get done. The Legislature will continue to meet in informal sessions through the end of 2022 but cannot pass any legislation that requires a roll call vote.
During the last week of the Massachusetts session:
- The Legislature passed and the Governor signed into law a compromise reproductive health bill. The legislation protects patients from other states who travel to Massachusetts for abortion care, clarifies the right to an abortion after 24 weeks of pregnancy, expands access to emergency contraception, strengthens insurance coverage requirements for abortion services, and would require college campuses to develop plans to ensure access for its students to abortion medication.
- The Legislature passed and sent back to the Governor a revised version of their climate bill, including a section that would allow up to 10 municipalities to enact a fossil fuel ban on any new construction or major renovation. This section includes an exemption for labs.
- The Legislature passed and sent to the Governor a roughly $11 billion infrastructure bond bill that includes significant spending to modernize the state’s public transportation system, the MBTA.
- The Legislature passed and sent to the Governor a bill enacting a package of mental health reforms focused on increasing access to mental health services.
- The Legislature did not pass a major economic development bill as expected. Legislative leaders said they plan to take up pieces of this bill during informal sessions, but they cannot pass any pieces of the bill that authorize borrowing during informals.
- The Legislature did not reach a compromise between the two different versions of the step therapy bill passed by the House and Senate. It is still possible this bill could pass during informal sessions.
On Thursday, Governor Charlie Baker signed the fiscal year 2023 (FY23) budget into law. The FY23 budget includes an extension to the copay assistance sunset to 2026. The critical cost-saving program allows Massachusetts residents to use prescription drug coupons.
The U.S. Senate is poised to vote on a reconciliation bill, the “Inflation Reduction Act of 2022” that includes significant policy allowing Medicare to set prices for prescription drugs. The legislation comes after negotiations between Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV). The bill includes $739 billion raised by imposing a corporate minimum tax of 15%, prescription drug pricing reform, more tax enforcement and closing the carried interest; $369 billion in energy and climate spending; and $64 billion for three years of subsidies for Affordable Care Act premiums (which will extend beyond the 2024 election.
The Massachusetts Legislature enters informal sessions where legislative business can continue but passage of a bill can be stopped by an objection from a single lawmaker.