House Speaker Ronald Mariano wasn’t shy about his plans for the week.
“One of the things we’re going to do is override the governor’s veto,” he said, with Governor Charlie Baker standing next to him.
The House is preparing to override Baker’s veto of a bill that would see those without legal status get driver’s licenses.
The House and Senate sent the bill to Baker last month, after which he returned it to them unsigned.
“I cannot sign this legislation because it requires the Motor Vehicle Registry to issue state credentials to people without the ability to verify their identity. The registry does not have the expertise or ability to verify the validity of many types of documents from other countries,” Baker said in his veto letter.
Baker reiterated that point on Monday, when he, Mariano and State Senate Speaker Karen Spilka met for an executive meeting.
The meetings, described as weekly, have been happening with less regularity as the Legislative Assembly strives to wrap up its two-year session by July 31 and Baker walks back to his civilian life. Baker announced in December that he would not seek a third term.
In May, Baker refused to sign House Bill 4805, “An Act relating to work and family mobility,” which would allow someone to use an ID issued by their home country to establish their identity in the goal of obtaining a Massachusetts driver’s license.
Baker said Monday, not for the first time, that he did not believe the registry was equipped to verify such documents.
He also acknowledged that his thoughts on the matter are essentially moot at this point because both the House and Senate passed the bill with wide enough margins to overcome his veto.
“I don’t see it the way the House and the Senate see it. It’s democracy,” Baker said.
Mariano’s office told reporters that the matter would be taken up by the House on Wednesday, when that House is expected to hold an official session. The Senate will consider the bill if and when it clears the House by a two-thirds vote.
Spilka and Mariano will both have to work hard to squeeze the veto into an already full schedule of less than two months.
The Legislative Assembly is currently working on the fiscal year 2023 budget, worth nearly $50 billion, which must be completed by the end of July. He is also considering a bill that would legalize sports betting in Massachusetts.
Spilka said its members are also working on a tax cut proposal that they hope will see the light of day before the end of the session. Mariano said his colleagues were working on the same issue, but did not say Monday what kind of tax relief they would consider.
Mariano said even if the tax relief comes, it won’t help people until next tax season when they need the help now. He said that’s what he focuses on the most.
Spilka was clear that a gas tax suspension was unlikely to be proposed. She said there was no way for the Legislative Assembly to ensure that the tax, if suspended, would result in savings for consumers. The legislature, she said, does not have the power to force gas companies to pass those savings on to drivers.