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A breakdown of what the Mass. Legislature did and didn’t get done

The Massachusetts State House early Monday morning as lawmakers raced to finish negotiations on major bills.Carlin Stiehl for The Boston Globe

In a legislative session that continued into Monday morning, Massachusetts lawmakers failed to reach an agreement on a massive economic development package that included plans for $1 billion in tax relief, but they sent Governor Charlie Baker a series of major bills on cannabis reform, sports betting, mental health care, gun control, and more.

Here’s a brief look at some of what did — and didn’t — get done during the Legislature’s all-night cram session.

What made it to Baker’s desk

  • Gaming legislation that would allow betting on professional and collegiate sports, but exclude betting on colleges located in Massachusetts. The bill would, however, allow for betting on in-state colleges if they are competing in a national tournaments. It also includes some guardrails, like banning the use of credit cards to place bets.
  • A sweeping mental health bill that would mandate insurance coverage for an annual mental health wellness exam and ensure compliance with the state’s mental health parity laws, among other things.
  • Language that would retool the state’s firearms laws in the wake of a Supreme Court decision expanding gun rights across the country. The agreement would broaden who is prohibited from getting a license to carry to anyone who has a temporary or permanent harassment prevention order against them. It would also require police to conduct a “personal interview” of anyone seeking a license to carry. The language would also bar police from imposing restrictions on licenses.
  • A $11.3 billion infrastructure and transportation borrowing bill that includes a slew of policy measures, including regulations on so-called e-bikes and $275 million toward extending passenger rail service from Boston to the western part of the state.
  • A cannabis reform bill that seeks to, among other things: crack down on steep local fees for marijuana operators, steer 15 percent of the state excise tax on recreational pot sales into a fund for disenfranchised cannabis entrepreneurs, make it easier to wipe away records of old marijuana convictions, and green-light a cannabis café pilot program.
  • A series of changes Baker had requested on a sweeping climate and energy bill. Lawmakers agreed to several of Baker’s proposed changes, notably one that would eliminate the “price cap” on offshore wind projects — a mechanism that requires each new project to offer power at a lower price than the one brought online before it.
  • Legislators accepted changes Baker made to a bill that would reshape oversight of the state’s two soldiers’ homes, including elevating the Department of Veterans Services to a Cabinet-level executive office that reports directly to the governor.

What didn’t make it

  • A hulking economic development package that included plans for $1 billion in tax relief. The $4 billion spending plan included both permanent tax changes as well as a one-time $250 rebate. Lawmakers said they had deep concerns over what the state can afford, and said they were caught off guard by a 1980s-era law that could ultimately send an additional $3 billion back to taxpayers in the coming months. Other spending initiatives in the bill were supposed to help prop up housing production, financially strained hospitals, and the state’s unemployment trust fund.
  • Lawmakers discarded a proposal that would have required gun owners to renew their licenses twice as often.
  • The final version of the infrastructure and transportation borrowing bill cut out a Senate-passed provision that would have required the MBTA to produce a plan for a low-income fare program.
  • Lawmakers rejected Baker’s bid to inject $750 million of federal American Rescue Plan Act funding into a sweeping climate and energy bill.

This article used reporting from Matt Stout, Samantha J. Gross, and Dan Adams of the Globe staff.


Sahar Fatima can be reached at sahar.fatima@globe.com Follow her on Twitter @sahar_fatima. Christina Prignano can be reached at christina.prignano@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @cprignano.