Charlie Baker to sign COVID spending bill and ‘Nero’s Law’

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Charlie Baker to sign COVID spending bill and ‘Nero’s Law’
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A $101 million spending bill that steers money toward COVID-19 response and sets the statewide primary election for Sept. 6 is poised to become law this week, as is legislation allowing emergency medical personnel to treat and transport police dogs injured in the line of duty.

Both bills are pending on the desk of Gov. Charlie Baker, who said Monday that he intends to sign them in the coming days.

Proposed investments in the spending bill include expanded COVID-19 rapid testing, an infusion into a pandemic sick leave program, and spending to build up vaccine infrastructure in communities with low vaccination rates.

Baker’s signature will also set the state’s primary election date as Sept. 6, two weeks earlier than the date in play under existing law. Beacon Hill leaders have developed a tradition of pushing up the primary every year to avoid conflicts with religious holidays and overseas voting deadlines.

“We’ll probably sign it sometime between now and the end of the week,” Baker said Monday after meeting privately with House Speaker Ronald Mariano and Senate President Karen Spilka.

The Republican governor also said he intends to sign legislation dubbed “Nero’s Law” that the Legislature sent him earlier Monday, which would allow medical personnel to transport and provide emergency treatment to police dogs.

The bill, filed by Sen. Mark Montigny and Rep. Steven Xiarhos, is named for the police dog that was severely injured in the April 2018 shooting in which Yarmouth Police Sgt. Sean Gannon was killed.

“It’s an issue that we’ve been discussing for a long time, and I’m thrilled that it made it through the process and got to our desk,” Baker said.

“We’ll look forward to having some sort of signing ceremony associated with that,” he added. “Whether it happens in the next 10 days or not will mostly be a function of people’s schedules, but we are going to sign it this week.”

Montigny added “K-9 officers like Nero are selfless heroes who endure extreme danger in order to keep us safe.” He said the new law will “honor their loyalty.”

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