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The 191st General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Joint Committee on Election Laws

Senate Contact

24 Beacon St. 
Room 507
Boston, MA 02133
Phone:
(617) 722-1612

House Contact

24 Beacon St. 
Room 443
Boston, MA 02133
Phone:
(617) 722-2460

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts

JOINT COMMITTEE ON ELECTION LAWS

Barry R. Finegold
Senate Chair
John J. Lawn, Jr.
House Chair


 

2019-2020 LEGISLATIVE SESSION 

COMMITTEE RULES 2019-2020

A.  GENERAL RULES FOR PUBLIC HEARINGS

  1. The Committee shall give notice of the time, place and agenda of all public hearings no less than seventy-two hours prior to the calling of such meetings.  Such notice shall be written and/or emailed and distributed to the committee members and written and distributed to the House and Senate clerk.  The seventy-two hour requirement may be suspended in an emergency by the chairs, provided reasonable efforts have been made to contact all committee members. 
  2. All public hearings shall be conducted by the Senate or House chair according to a schedule established by the chairs.  If the chair scheduled to preside is unable to do so, the other chair shall conduct the public hearing. 
  3. In the absence of and with the consent of both chairs, the hearing shall be conducted by a vice-chair or a designee. 
  4. All persons intending to submit written testimony to the committee shall furnish at least two copies of such written testimony to the committee no later than the hearing date, unless granted an extension of time by both chairs.
  5. Agencies are asked to submit their written responses to proposals affecting their agency to the committee staff two full work days before the scheduled hearing.  In addition, a representative of said agency is requested to prepare oral testimony for the day of a hearing and to be on hand to answer questions at the public hearing and executive session.
  6. All persons testifying before the committee shall furnish the committee with his or her name, organization, if any, address and telephone number. All persons testifying shall also enter the above information in the committee attendance log and shall clearly state his or her name and affiliation, if any, prior to giving testimony.  This requirement may be waived by the presiding chair of the hearing.
  7. The presiding chair shall use his and her discretion in scheduling the order in which proposals shall be heard at any public hearing or executive session of the committee. 

B.  CONDUCT OF PUBLIC HEARINGS

  1. The presiding chair shall have general supervision of all hearings before the committee.  Committee members may only question witnesses when they have been recognized by the presiding chair for that purpose.
  2. The presiding chair, at his or her discretion, may limit the time of questioning for each member, after giving due consideration to the importance of the subject matter, the number of petitions scheduled for hearing, and the length of time available.
  3. All questions put to witnesses before the committee shall be pertinent to the subject matter before the committee.
  4. The chairs must give approval for any use of electronic recording devices at any committee meetings and they, in turn, shall notify committee members if such devices will be used during such hearings. 

C.  EXECUTIVE SESSIONS

  1. Executive sessions may be held after each public hearing or at other appropriate times to be selected by the chairs.   Whenever an executive session is held at a time other than on a public hearing day, each member of the committee shall be furnished with a seventy-two hour notice of the date, time, place and subject matter(s) of each such executive session. 
  2. All executive sessions must be attended by both the Senate and House chairs, and no executive session may be held in the absence of either chair.  This requirement may be waived by mutual agreement of both chairs.
  3. All executive sessions shall be open to the public unless the committee votes to close such session.  During executive sessions that remain open to the public, the public may not comment unless specifically questioned by a presiding chairman.
  4. A majority vote of the members present, including the presiding chair(s), shall constitute the recommendation of the committee.
  5. Any member of the committee present at an executive session during which the recommendation of the committee has been voted on, may move to reconsider such recommendation.  At the discretion of the chair(s), the vote for reconsideration may be taken at the same session or at a later executive session.
  6. Any member of the committee shall have the right to be listed as dissenting from the committee report, provided such member notifies both chairs in writing by 5:00 p.m. of the legislative day following the executive session at which the recommendation was made. 
  7. Either chair, or any member with a second, who is in attendance at an executive session, may request a poll to be taken to determine the recommendation of the committee on any specific petition or amendment to the same.  A poll of committee members shall be completed by 5:00 p.m. on the legislative day following the request for such a poll. 
  8. In lieu of an executive session, the Senate and House chairs, by mutual agreement, may conduct an electronic or telephone poll of each committee member to determine the recommendations of the committee.  Members shall be allotted forty-eight hours to record their votes in response to a poll.  In the event of an emergency session a reasonable amount of time, as determined by the Chairs, shall be allotted for members to record their votes.  Each member shall be notified of the deadline to record such votes.

D.  ADOPTION, SUSPENSION, OR AMENDMENT OF COMMITTEE RULES

  1. Adoption, suspension, or amendment of these rules shall be by a majority vote of the committee members present and voting.
  2. Rules C5 and C6 may be waived by the chairs in the case of late-filed bills or bills referred to the committee.