Skip to Content
The 191st General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Joint Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities

Senate Contact

24 Beacon St. 
Room 111
Boston, MA 02133
Phone:
(617) 722-1673

House Contact

24 Beacon St. 
Room 146
Boston, MA 02133
Phone:
(617) 722-2011

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts

JOINT COMMITTEE ON CHILDREN, FAMILIES AND PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES
STATE HOUSE, BOSTON, MA 02133

Rep. Kay Khan
House Chair
Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz
Senate Chair


 Rules for 2019-2020 Legislative Session

I. GENERAL RULES FOR PUBLIC HEARINGS AND MEETINGS

A. Rules Relative to the Public:

1. Oral testimony will be accepted on all matters before the Committee as the bills appear on the Public Hearing agenda.

2. Unless waived by the Presiding Chair, all persons testifying before the Committee shall furnish and state the following information prior to testifying:

Bill number and title
Position on bill (support or opposition) 
Name
Title (if applicable) 
Organization (if applicable) 
Town of Residence

3. Unless waived by the Presiding Chair, all persons testifying before the Committee shall furnish the following information on the Public Hearing sign-in sheets: 

Position on bill (support or opposition) 
Name
Title (if applicable) 
Organization (if applicable) 
Town of Residence
Email Address
Organization's Mailing Address (if applicable)
Residential Mailing Address (if applicable)
Telephone Number

4. Written testimony should be submitted to the Committee up until action taken by the Committee on the bill.

5. The length of oral testimony of any witness shall be limited to three minutes or a reasonable time, to be determined by the Chair.

6. A Committee hearing may be recorded by a person in attendance by means of a recorder or any other means of audio/visual reproduction provided, that a person seeking to record a hearing 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. Legislative Information Services may make video and/or audio recordings of hearings at the request of the Chairs.

7. All cell phones, pagers and other mobile or electronic devices shall be turned off or placed on silent during Public Hearings. The use of visual aids including posters, displays, or charts may be disallowed by the Chairs.

8. If you need accommodations for a hearing, please contact the ADA Coordinator at 857-400-5502 or https://malegislature.gov/StateHouse/Accessibility

B. Rules Relative to the Committee:

1. All bills appropriately assigned to the Joint Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities shall be scheduled for a Public Hearing. 

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 but it may be subject to change. 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. An electronic message should be sent to all members informing them of the date, time, location and agenda 72 hours in advance. The Chairs may suspend the 72 hour requirement in an emergency pursuant to Joint Rule 1D. 

4. At least 72 hours in advance of any Public Hearing or Executive Session , excluding Saturdays, Sundays and legal holidays, all members of the Committee shall receive by electronic message an official notice including copies of bills and summaries.

5. Notice of Public Hearings shall be distributed to the House and Senate Clerks at least 72 hours prior to the hearing. The Chairs may suspend the 72 hour requirement in an emergency pursuant to Joint Rule 1D.  

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 Chairs and Vice-Chairs, the hearings shall be conducted by the ranking senior member of the majority party, as determined by years of service in the Legislature.

7. Committee members may question individuals testifying before the Committee only after being recognized by the Presiding Chair. All questions shall be pertinent to the subject matter.

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. The Presiding Chair may reasonably limit the length of questioning by each member and the testimony of witnesses.

10. At the discretion of the Chairs, agencies may be asked to submit their written responses to proposals affecting their agency no later than the scheduled hearing date. In addition, a 

representative of said agency may be requested to prepare oral testimony for the day of the hearing and to be on hand to answer questions at the Public Hearing and the Executive Session.

II. GENERAL RULES FOR EXECUTIVE SESSIONS

A. Rules Relative to the Public

1. All Executive Sessions shall be open to the public unless a majority of the Committee members present vote to close such session, upon motion of the presiding Chair, in accordance with Joint Rule 1D.

2. The public may not comment at an Executive Session unless specifically questioned by the presiding Chair.

B. Rules Relative to Committee Members

1. Executive Sessions shall be held at 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, location, bill numbers and subject of such session. Notice shall be distributed to the House and Senate Clerks. Adequate advance notice shall mean at least 72 hours, excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and legal holidays.

2. All Executive Sessions must be attended by both the Senate and House Chair. This requirement may be waived by mutual agreement of the Senate and House Chairs.

3. The members of the Committee may appropriately discuss each bill and vote by choosing one of the following recommendations:

  • Ought to pass – referred to House of Representatives for further consideration.
  • Ought to pass – referred to the Senate for further consideration.
  • Ought to pass with amendment(s) - referred to House of Representatives for further consideration.
  • Ought to pass with amendment(s) - referred to Senate for further consideration.
  • Ought to pass, as redrafted - referred to House of Representatives for further consideration.
  • Ought to pass, as redrafted - referred to Senate for further consideration.
  • Ought to pass - accompany similar petition.
  • Study order.
  • Ought not to pass.
  • Rights reserved.

4. Votes of the Committee, at the discretion of the Chairs, shall be taken either by voice vote or roll call vote of the members present in an Executive Session.

5. The vote of a majority of the members present, including the House and Senate Chairs, shall constitute the recommendation of the Committee.

6. For votes taken in an Executive Session, any member of the Committee shall have the right to be listed as approving of, dissenting from, or reserving the member's rights on any report, provided such member notifies the House and Senate Chairs before 4:45 p.m. on the day of the Executive Session or, if the vote occurred after 4:45 p.m., then before 9:15 a.m. of the next business day.

7. Any member of the Committee present at an Executive Session may move for reconsideration of an Executive Session vote after such session has closed, provided that written notice is given to the House and Senate Chairs before 4:45 p.m. on the same day as the Executive Session or, if the vote occurred after 4:45 p.m., then before 9:15 a.m. of the next business day. Only one such motion for reconsideration shall be permitted for each bill. At the discretion of the Chairs, the vote for reconsideration may be taken at the same session or at a later Executive Session.

III. GENERAL RULES FOR ELECTRONIC POLLING

A. With the consent of both the House and Senate Chairs, the Committee, in lieu of an Executive Session, may poll each member by electronic means, including without limitation, by electronic mail, through legislative systems or otherwise, to determine the recommendation of the Committee on any specific bill.

B. A poll may be conducted on a bill that has had a hearing, with the consent of both Chairs. A copy of the bill and a summary thereof shall be distributed to each member of the Committee, together with a memorandum containing the subject of the poll and a deadline for responding.

C. Members may cast their votes via response email to the office of the House Chair if a Representative, or to the office of the Senate Chair, if a Senator.  

D. A majority vote of the members participating in a poll shall constitute the recommendation of the Committee. Votes of the members shall be recorded on appropriate forms and maintained in Committee records.

E. Each member of the Committee shall receive at least 48 hours to review the poll. The House and Senate Chairs may waive the 48-hour notice requirement for polls in an emergency.​

IV. GENERAL PROVISIONS:

A. A notice and agenda of every Public Hearing of the Committee shall be filed with the Clerk of the Senate, Clerk of the House, the Sergeant-at-Arms 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. The notice shall include the date, time and place of such meeting.

B. A copy of these rules shall be on file 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.

C. Any rule contained herein may be amended upon written and signed report of two-thirds of the members appointed to the Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities. Any rule contained herein may be suspended by two-thirds of the members present and voting at any meeting of the Committee.

D. Either Chair, in anticipation of an extended absence, may delegate their duties to the Vice Chair for the period of that Chair's absence.

E. Records of the business of the Committee, including written testimony submitted at hearings and all recorded votes or polls, along with dates and times, shall be maintained in the Committee's office, at least until the end of the biennial legislative session in which the action transpired.

F. All such voting records shall be available for public inspection either in person or via telephone or email request for a copy.

G. The Chairs, at their discretion, may form subcommittees comprised of a member or members of the Committee. Upon agreement of the Chairs, a Chair of the subcommittee shall be appointed. Chairs of the subcommittee may invite other legislators to be members of the subcommittee. All subcommittees must present an interim report and a final written report to the Committee upon completion of their research or work. 

H. The Chairs, at their discretion, may release and redact testimony.