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The 191st General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Joint Committee on Municipalities and Regional Government

Senate Contact

24 Beacon St. 
Room 218
Boston, MA 02133
Phone:
(617) 722-1555

House Contact

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

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts

JOINT COMMITTEE ON MUNICIPALITIES AND REGIONAL GOVERNMENT
COMMITTEE RULES

Rebecca L. Rausch
Senate Chair
James J. O'Day
House Chair

2019-2020 LEGISLATIVE SESSION 

PUBLIC HEARING PROCEDURES

  1. Pursuant to Joint Rule 1C, the committee shall schedule committee hearings and executive sessions upon mutual agreement of the chairs and so as not to conflict, to the extent feasible, with the schedules of other committees and, to the extent feasible, the day of the week and times during that day set aside for formal sessions by the respective branches from the first Wednesday in January through the fourth Wednesday of April in the first annual session.  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 rules 2 and 20.
  2. 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.
  3. 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 on such time-sensitive or emergency matters may be conducted by email, telephone, in person, through legislative systems, or otherwise, upon mutual agreement of the Chairs.

  4. All members of the committee shall receive an official written notice including copies of bills and summaries at least 72 hours in advance of any public hearing, excluding Saturdays, Sundays and legal holidays. Such notice may be in the form of an email sent to all members informing them of the date, time, location and agenda.
  5. PUBLIC HEARING CONDUCT

  6. 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.
  7. A meeting of a committee may be recorded by a person in attendance by means of a recorder or any other means of audio/visual reproduction except when a meeting is held in closed executive session; provided, that a person seeking to record a meeting of a committee notifies the Chairs of the committee prior to commencing such recording; and provided further that during such recording there is no interference with the conduct of the meeting.
  8. 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.
  9. Oral testimony will be accepted on all matters before the committee.
  10. All persons testifying before the committee shall furnish the following information:

    Name
    Title (if applicable)
    Organization (if applicable)
    Address
    Telephone Number (if available)
    E-mail Address (if available)
    Indication of support or opposition
    Bill number and Title

  11. Written statements should be submitted to the committee and not read during the public hearing unless allowed by the Presiding Chair.
  12. Any person testifying before the committee should confine their comments to the pending subject matter and present testimony either for or against the specific legislation.
  13. 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.
  14. EXECUTIVE SESSIONS

  15. Executive sessions may be held after each public hearing or at other appropriate times as determined by the House and Senate Chairs. When an executive session is held at a time other than after a public hearing, each member of the committee shall be given adequate advance notice of the date, time and subject of such executive session. Adequate advance notice shall mean at least 72 hours, excluding Saturdays, Sundays and legal holidays.
  16. All executive sessions shall be open to the public, unless the executive session is closed in accordance with Joint Rule 1D. Executive sessions shall not be closed except upon extraordinary circumstances and only after the committee has first convened in an open session for which notice has been given, the presiding officer has stated the purpose of the executive session, a majority of the committee members present has voted to close the executive session, the vote of each member has been recorded on a roll call vote, and the presiding officer has stated before the closure whether the committee will reconvene publicly after the closed executive session.
  17. All executive sessions must be conducted by both the House and Senate Chairs. This requirement may be waived by mutual agreement of both Chairs.
  18. The members of the committee may appropriately discuss each bill pending before the committee during an executive session. No public testimony shall be heard in executive session except as may be requested by the Presiding Chair.
  19. Votes of the committee, whether occurring during executive session or via remote poll, shall be taken using one of the following methods: (i) voice vote of the members present in executive session; (ii) roll call vote of the members present in executive session; or (iii) a remote poll vote of all members. The members of the committee may 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 during an executive session, including the House and Senate Chairs, shall constitute the recommendation of the committee.  Pursuant to Joint Rule 4, a vote of the committee to give legislation a favorable or adverse report shall be conducted by a roll call upon request of 2 committee members present at the committee meeting. Such votes shall be recorded on appropriate forms that show all votes for and against the particular committee action. The records of all such roll calls shall be kept in the offices of the committee for the duration of the General Court during which said vote was recorded, and shall be available for public inspection upon reasonable notice during regular office hours.

  20. Any member of the committee shall have the right to be listed as dissenting from the committee report, or may choose to reserve their rights on any report, provided such member notifies the House and Senate Chairs before 5:00 P.M. on the day of the executive session or, if the vote occurred after 5:00 P.M., before 9:15 A.M. of the next business day.
  21. Bills reported by the committee shall be sent to the branch of the Legislature in which the matter originated, unless the Chairs mutually determine otherwise, and in the event the Chairs do not agree, by vote of a majority of the committee members.
  22. 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 5:00 P.M. on the same day as the executive session or, if the vote occurred after 5:00 P.M., before 9:15 A.M. 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.
  23. With the consent of both the House and Senate Chairs, a remote 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 remote poll.
  24. Committee remote polls may be conducted by email, telephone, in person, through legislative systems, or otherwise, upon mutual agreement of the Chairs. 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 by mutual agreement waive the 72 hour notice requirement referenced in committee rule 12 for polls.

  25. All committee votes, regardless of voting method, shall be recorded on appropriate forms that show all votes regarding the particular committee action. The records of all such votes shall be kept in the office of the committee and shall be available for public inspection either in person during regular business hours or via email request for a copy.
  26. MISCELLANEOUS

  27. 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 72 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.
  28. 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.
  29. 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.
  30. 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.
  31. 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.
  32. 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.

Adopted on March 14, 2019

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