masthead_37.jpg
Local NPR for the Cape, Coast & Islands 90.1 91.1 94.3
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

Baker will soon exit office as Massachusetts prepares for Healey's historic inauguration

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker in July 2021. Behind him is now Gov.-elect Maura Healey. Her inauguration will be held Jan. 5, 2022 in Boston, Mass.
State House News Service
Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker in July 2021. Behind him is now Gov.-elect Maura Healey. Her inauguration will be held Jan. 5, 2022 in Boston, Mass.

We're in the final days of Gov. Charlie Baker's administration with an historic inauguration on Thursday.

Baker may be headed out of the State House, but he still has some work to do. There are bills on the governor's desk awaiting a decision. Matt Murphy, senior reporter with the Statehouse News Service, says there are about twenty bills in a pile on Baker’s desk.

Matt Murphy, Statehouse News Service: Most of these are local bills dealing with local charter issues and bridge naming, things of that nature. The one big piece that stands out, is the road safety bill that the House and Senate finally got completed last week. This deals with changing some of the rules of the road to safeguard pedestrians, cyclists and other non-cars and trucks that use our streets. And this was a bill that had gotten close to the finish line, but Governor Baker actually returned it to the legislature with amendments. He was concerned that some aspects of this bill would be difficult to enforce. So lawmakers believe they've reached a compromise and sent it back to him. But he's yet to take a final action here.

And the one caveat here is a peculiarity of constitutional law that comes into play now, and it's the pocket veto. The governor doesn't necessarily have to sign or reject this bill. Typically, legislation becomes law after ten days, with or without the governor's signature. But in this situation, with the governor leaving office, the transfer of power to a new governor, if the governor does not act on this bill before he leaves office, it will simply die.

But there's no reason yet to think that is going to happen. This is something that the governor supports... a lot of these provisions. If he thinks they got it right, he could very well sign this before he leaves office on Thursday.

Carrie Healy, NEPM: Speaking of lawmakers, they also have quite a to do list before the legislative board gets wiped clean with a new session on Wednesday. What are they aiming to pass?

There's any number of things they could try to get done in these final days. We have heard that they may not be thinking any major push, nothing huge. But this bill dealing with catalytic converters that has been getting a late session jolt of momentum. I know they're working to finalize that. And there could be some other pieces that pop up that have gotten close and maybe they think they can finalize in these closing days of the session.

When Governor-elect Maura Healey takes the oath on Thursday, she will become the first elected Massachusetts governor who is a woman. What do we expect from the ceremonies on Thursday?

All of the pomp and circumstance really starts on Wednesday night. The governor-elect and the lieutenant governor-elect, will be visiting the state house, sitting down with Governor Baker. We anticipate, as is tradition, for the traditional exchanging of gifts. These are tokens such as a gavel that was carved from the white oak of the U.S.S. Constitution, and the ceremonial keys to the governor's office, et cetera. And all of this will happen in a short, private meeting before the governor takes what is called the 'lone walk' out of the state house.

This is a red carpet that winds from the third floor executive suite down through the front gates, which are not often opened up at the state house. But they do open for this occasion. And he will exit the state house for the final time as governor. Now, he does not formally relinquish his powers until noon on Thursday, and that is when Governor Healey will be taking the oath of office at the state house. We are expecting her to give her inaugural address, where she could lay out many of the priorities she hopes to accomplish early in her governorship.

And following that on Thursday evening at the TD Garden, they are planning a big celebration full of performances from local artists, speeches, and it's all being done with a theme of "moving Massachusetts forward" and a touch of basketball, given both her experience and lieutenant governor's, experience playing basketball. And of course, it's being held on the parquet.

In our final 20 seconds or so, do we have any indication of the first moves coming from the Healey administration? I mean, she's already appointed a bunch of Cabinet secretaries, but there's plenty more hiring to be done.

She has. She has quite a bit of hiring. I mean, we've talked about how slow the hiring process has been for her. She has made a number of appointments in recent days, but there are several big vacancies.

The Health and Human Services secretary is still without a cabinet secretary. This is the largest executive office in state government overseeing billions and billions of dollars in spending. She needs to appoint cabinet secretaries for labor, housing and economic development and other positions.

And we know that her budget team is also going to be getting to work very quickly. Her budget is not due until March 1st, but that's going to come up fast and this will be her big first early priority.

Carrie Healy hosts the local broadcast of "Morning Edition" at NEPM. She also hosts the station’s weekly government and politics segment “Beacon Hill In 5” for broadcast radio and podcast syndication.