SECTION 1. Chapter 3 of the General Laws, is hereby amended by inserting after section 71 the following section:-
Section 72. (a) There is hereby established the Joint Legislative Research Bureau, hereinafter referred to as “the bureau.” It shall be the duty and function of the bureau to provide the general court and its members with research, analysis, and recommendations on legislative and fiscal matters facing the commonwealth. The bureau shall act in a nonpartisan, factual, timely, and professional manner, with the goal of assisting the general court and its members to make informed policy decisions that are in the best interests of the commonwealth.
(b) (1) The bureau shall be headed by a director, who shall be appointed by a majority vote of the senate president, the speaker of the house, the senate minority leader, and the house minority leader. The person so appointed shall be selected without regard to political affiliation and solely on the basis of his or her fitness to perform the duties of director. The term of office shall be 8 years. No person shall serve more than 3 terms as director. Any individual appointed as director to fill a vacancy shall be considered to have been appointed to a new term. No person appointed director shall, in the 5 years preceding such appointment, have held federal or state elective office, served as a member of a federal or state political party committee, or been registered as an executive or legislative agent. No person appointed director shall, during their term in office, be a candidate for election to a federal, state or municipal office or to a federal, state or municipal political party committee or register as an executive or legislative agent.
(2) The director may be removed from office, for cause, by a majority vote of the senate president, the speaker of the house, the senate minority leader, and the house minority leader. Such cause may include substantial neglect of duty, gross misconduct, indictment, or conviction of a crime. The reasons for removal of the director shall be stated in writing and shall include the basis for such removal. Such writing shall be sent to the clerk of the senate and the clerk of the house of representatives at the time of the removal.
(3) The director shall receive a salary equal to that of the state budget director in the executive office for administration and finance. Funding for the salaries of the director and other personnel of the bureau and for the operations of the bureau shall be provided from the general fund, subject to appropriation.
(4) The director shall, subject to appropriation, appoint and may remove such employees as he or she deems necessary to carry out the duties and functions of the bureau, and may determine their salaries and duties; provided, however, that the total amount of all such salaries shall not exceed the sum appropriated therefore by the general court. The personnel of the office shall include at least one certified public accountant and one attorney. All personnel of the office shall be appointed without regard to affiliation and solely on the basis of their fitness to perform their duties. For purposes of payment of salaries, employment benefits, rights, privileges, and disciplinary matters, all personnel of the bureau shall be considered employees of the general court.
(c) The bureau shall perform duties including, but not limited to, the following:
(1) advise and assist any committee of the senate or house of representatives, upon request of the chair, by providing analysis, appraisal, and evaluation of legislative proposals within that committee’s jurisdiction or recommendations submitted to the general court by the governor or any agency, department or division within the executive branch;
(2) provide such other research and analytical services as any committee deems appropriate, or otherwise assist in furnishing the basis for proper evaluation and determination of legislative proposals and recommendations;
(3) advise and assist members of the senate or house of representatives, upon request, in the analysis of legislative proposals, provided however that:
(i) the proposed legislation has been favorably reported out of at least one committee of the senate or house of representatives or one joint committee and the request is made by the principal sponsor of the legislation or by no less than 4 members of the senate or 16 members of the house of representatives; or
(ii) the request is made by no less than 10 members of the senate or 40 members of the house of representatives;
Analyses prepared by the bureau pursuant to this sub-section shall be public and made available online.
(4) prepare and provide other information, research, and reference materials and services to committees and members of the senate and house of representatives to assist them in their legislative and representative functions.
(d) The bureau shall have the authority and ability to access documents and information maintained in any form by agencies or authorities of the commonwealth relating to their operations, organizational structure, revenues, and expenditures.
(e) The bureau shall prepare an annual report detailing its work for each biennial legislative session. The report shall be filed with the clerks of the senate and house of representatives on or before November 1 of each even-numbered year.
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