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The 190th General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Joint Committee on Municipalities and Regional Government

Senate Contact

24 Beacon St. 
Room 109-B
Boston, MA 02133
Phone:
(617) 722-1485

House Contact

24 Beacon St. 
Room 540
Boston, MA 02133
Phone:
(617) 722-2090

Rules of Procedure for 2017-2018


Michael O. Moore   James J. O'Day
Senate Chair
 House Chair

PUBLIC HEARING PROCEDURES

  1. Public hearings are to be scheduled at times that generally do not conflict with formal sessions of the House or Senate. Such hearings are to be conducted until all timely-filled legislation receives a hearing. Public hearings are to be scheduled for all bills that are referred after the Joint Rule 10 deadline, except as otherwise provided for in committee rule 19.
  1. Whenever possible, bills that are referred to the committee should be scheduled according to subject matter. The House and Senate Chairs shall be responsible for determining the schedule for all public hearings and executive sessions, and for determining the agenda for each public hearing and executive session. The House Chair, in consultation with the Senate Chair, shall be responsible for notifying the committee members and keeping all records of committee activity.
    For time-sensitive/emergency matters concerning a bill which affects a particular city, town, district, county or regional government, a committee poll may take place in lieu of a public hearing. In such an instance, all committee members shall receive official notice of this action and be provided with the legislation and its corresponding information. Committee members shall be given 24 hours to respond to the poll. Committee polls may be conducted via email, telephone or in person.
  1. Whenever possible, all members of the committee shall receive an official notice including copies of bills and summaries at least 48 hours in advance of any public hearing, excluding Saturdays, Sundays and legal holidays. An electronic message will also be sent to all members informing them of the date, time, location and agenda.

PUBLIC HEARING CONDUCT

  1. The House or Senate Chair, as determined by said Chairs prior to each hearing, shall serve as the Presiding Chair and conduct the order of business for the public hearings. In the absence of the House or Senate Chair, a Vice-Chair shall preside. In the absence of the Vice-Chair, a senior ranking member from the majority party who is present shall preside. Any member may question individuals testifying before the committee after being recognized by the Presiding Chair. All questions shall be pertinent to the subject matter.
  1. No electronic recording or transmission devices may be used in a committee hearing or executive session without the prior approval of the House and Senate Chairs, who shall notify the members that such devices are being used. This provision shall not apply to television coverage provided to the Legislature by contractual arrangement.
  1. At the discretion of the Presiding Chair, legislators and other elected public officials wishing to testify may be recognized at any time during the public hearing.
  1. Oral testimony will be accepted on all matters before the committee as they appear on the agenda.
  1. All persons testifying before the committee shall furnish the following information:
    • Name
    • Title (if applicable)
    • Organization (if applicable)
    • Address
    • Telephone Number
    • E-mail Address
    • Indication of support or opposition
    • Bill number and Title
  1. Written statements should be submitted to the committee and not read during the public hearing unless allowed by Presiding Chair.
  1. Any person testifying before the committee should confine his or her comments to the pending subject matter and present testimony either for or against the specific legislation.
  1. After giving due consideration to the importance of the subject matter, number of bills, number of witnesses and the length of time available, the Presiding Chair may reasonably limit the length of questioning by each member and the testimony of witnesses.

EXECUTIVE SESSIONS

  1. Executive sessions may be held after each public hearing or at other appropriate times as determined by the House and Senate Chairs. Whenever an executive session is held at a time other than after a public hearing, each member of the committee shall be furnished with adequate advance notice of the date, time and subject of such executive session. Whenever possible, adequate advance notice shall mean at least 48 hours, excluding Saturdays, Sundays and legal holidays.
  1. All executive sessions shall be open to the public, unless a majority of the committee members present votes to close such session in accordance with Joint Rule 1D.
  1. All executive sessions must be conducted by both the House and Senate Chairs.   This requirement may be waived by mutual agreement of both Chairs.
  1. The members of the committee may appropriately discuss each bill and vote by choosing one of the following recommendations:
    1. Ought to pass
    2. Ought to pass with amendments
    3. Ought to pass - committee redraft
    4. Ought to pass - accompanied study order
    5. Ought to pass - accompanied similar petition
    6. Ought not to pass
    7. Discharge to another committee
    The vote of a majority of the members present, including the House and Senate Chairs, shall constitute the recommendation of the committee.
  1. Any member of the committee shall have the right to be listed as dissenting from the committee report, or may choose to reserve his/her rights on any report, provided such member notifies the House and Senate Chairs before 4:45pm on the day of the executive session or, if the vote occurred after 5:00pm, before 9:15am of the next business day.
  1. Bills reported by the committee shall be sent to the branch of the Legislature in which the matter originated, unless the committee votes otherwise.
  1. Any member of the committee may move for reconsideration of an executive session vote, provided that written notice is given to the House and Senate Chairs before 4:45pm on the same day as the executive session or, if the vote occurred after 5:00pm, before 9:15am of the next business day. Such motion shall be taken up at the next executive session, provided that only one such motion for reconsideration shall be permitted for each bill.
  1. With the consent of both the House and Senate Chairs, a poll may be conducted to determine the recommendation of the committee on any specific bill. Any two members of the committee in attendance at any executive session may require such a poll. Such votes shall be recorded on appropriate forms. The record of all roll calls shall be kept in the office of the committee and shall be available for public inspection.
    Committee polls may be conducted via email, telephone or in person. A copy of the bill and a summary shall be distributed to each member of the committee together with a memorandum containing the subject of the poll and a deadline for responding. Members shall be given 24 hours to respond to the poll. The votes of a majority of those members responding to the poll shall constitute the official recommendation of the committee. The House and Senate Chairs may waive the 48 hour notice requirement referenced in committee rule 12 for polls.

MISCELLANEOUS

  1. A notice and agenda of every public hearing of the committee shall be filed with the Clerk of the Senate and the Clerk of the House and publicly posted in such places as are designated in advance for such purpose by said Clerks, at least 48 hours prior to the time of such meeting, excluding Saturdays, Sundays and legal holidays, whenever possible. The notice shall be printed in easily readable type and shall include the date, time and place of such meeting.
  1. A copy of these rules shall be filed with the Senate and House Clerks and shall be made available to the public at the offices of the Senate and House Committee Chairs and at all public hearings and executive sessions of the committee.
  1. Pursuant to Joint Rule 3A, all matters requiring legislation shall be founded upon petition, excepting that the Committee on Municipalities and Regional Government acting concurrently, upon written and signed report of two-thirds of the members of the Senate and two-thirds of the members of the House appointed to the committee, may report a bill or other form of legislation without said petition, provided however, that matters so reported shall be germane to the subject matters regularly referred to said committee, and the committee shall hold a public hearing on such bill or other form of legislation before it is reported.
  1. Any matter before the committee may, by a majority vote of the members present, be discharged to another committee. Such discharge shall be made pursuant to Senate Rule 36 for matters reported into the Senate and shall be made pursuant to House Rule 42 for matters reported into the House.
  1. Any matter recommitted to the committee shall be reported out of committee within 30 days of said recommittal with the same recommendation unless such matter has been acted upon pursuant to committee rules relative to executive sessions.
    Any rule contained herein may be amended upon written and signed report of two-thirds of the members appointed to the Committee on Municipalities and Regional Government. Any rule contained herein may be suspended by two-thirds of the members present and voting at any meeting of the committee.