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The 191st General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Joint Committee on Public Health

Joint Committee on Public Health

State House, Boston, MA


John F. Keenan   Jeffrey Sánchez
Senate Chair
  House Chair

Committee Rules for 2013-2014 (Received 3/7/13)

A. Public Hearing Procedures:

1.) Public hearings will be scheduled at times that generally do not conflict with formal sessions of the House or Senate. Such hearings will be conducted until all timely filed legislation receives a hearing. Public hearings will be scheduled for all bills that are referred after the Joint Rule 10 deadline, except as otherwise provided for in committee rule C-8.

2.) Whenever possible, bills that are referred to the committee should be scheduled according to subject matter. The Chairs shall be responsible for scheduling 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.) At least 48 hours in advance of any public hearing, each member of the committee shall receive an official notice of the date, time, location, and tentative agenda of the hearing, including bills and summaries.

    B. 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 presiding Chair, a Vice-Chair shall preside. In the absence of a Vice-Chair, a senior ranking member from the majority party who is present shall preside. The presiding Chair may designate a member as Acting Chair during a public hearing. 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.

    2.) After giving due consideration to the subject matter, number of bills, number of witnesses and the length of time available, the presiding Chair shall determine the order of testimony during the public hearing.

    3.) 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.

    4.) All persons testifying before the committee shall furnish the following information to the Chairs on the appropriate forms as proscribed by the Chairs:
    Number and Title of Legislation of Interest
    Position on the Legislation of Interest
    Name
    Occupation
    Professional Affiliation (if applicable)
    Mailing Address
    Web Address (if applicable)
    Telephone Number
    E-Mail Address
    At the discretion of the Chairs, persons testifying before the committee may not be required to submit certain information.

    5.) All persons testifying before the committee shall confine his or her remarks to the pending subject matter and present oral testimony either for or against the specific legislation.

    6.) Written statements should be submitted to the committee and not read during the public hearing without prior approval from the presiding Chair.

    7.) After giving due consideration to the importance of the subject matter, number of bills, number of witnesses and the length of time available, at the determination of the House and Senate Chairs, the committee may reasonably limit the length of questioning by each member and the testimony of witnesses.

      C. 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.

      2.) 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.

      3.) Both Chairs must attend executive sessions and no such session shall be held if either is absent. This requirement may be waived by agreement of both Chairs.

      4.) The members of the committee may appropriately discuss each matter and vote to report the matter with the following recommendations:
      1. Ought to pass.
      2. Ought to pass – with changes or amendments.
      3. Ought to pass – committee redraft.
      4. Ought to pass – carrying similar petitions.
      5. Ought to pass – accompanying a similar petition.
      6. To be included in a study order.
      7. To be discharged to another committee.
      8. Ought not to pass.
      A majority of the members present shall constitute the recommendation of the committee.

      5.) 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 Chairs before 5 p.m. on the day of the executive session or, if the vote occurred after 5 p.m., then before 9 a.m. of the next business day.

      6.) Bills reported by the committee shall be sent to the branch of the legislature in which the matter originated. This requirement may be waived by agreement of both Chairs.

      7.) Any member of the committee may move for reconsideration of an executive session vote, provided that written notice is given to the Chairs before 5 p.m. on the same day as the executive session or, if the vote occurred after 5 p.m., then before 9 a.m. on the next business day. Such motions shall be taken up at the next executive session, provided that only one such motion for reconsideration shall be permitted for each bill.

      8.) With the consent of both the House and Senate Chairs, the committee may poll each member to determine the recommendation of the committee on any specific bill. Any two members of the committee in attendance at any executive session may request such a poll. Such votes shall be recorded on appropriate forms. The record of all such roll calls shall be kept in the office of the committee and shall be available for public inspection.
      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. The votes of a majority of those members responding to the poll shall constitute the official recommendation of the committee.

        D. Miscellaneous:

        1.) A notice and agenda of each public hearing of the committee shall be filed with the Clerk of the House and the Clerk of the Senate and publicly posted in such places as are designated in advance for such purposes by said Clerks, at least 48 hours prior to the time of such meeting. The notice shall be printed in easily readable type and shall include the date, time, and place of such meeting.

        2.) A copy of these rules shall be on file with the Senate and House Clerks and shall be 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.

        3.) All matters requiring legislation shall be founded upon petition, excepting that the Committee on Public Health 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 public hearings on such bill or other form of legislation before it is reported.

        4.) Any rule contained herein may be amended upon written and signed report of two-thirds of the members appointed to the Committee on Public Health. Any rule contained herein may be suspended by a two-thirds vote of the members present.

        5.) Any such matter before the committee may, by a majority vote of the committee 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.

        6.) Any matter recommitted to the committees shall be reported out of committee within ten days of said recommittal with the same recommendation unless such matter has been acted upon pursuant to Part C of the committee rules.