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February 26, 2024 Clouds | 33°F
The 193rd General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Joint Committee on Public Health 191st (2019 - 2020)

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts


Joanne M. Comerford
John J. Mahoney




      A. Rules Relative to the Public

1. All bills originally assigned to the joint committee on public health shall be scheduled for a public hearing.  The chairs may, however, mutually agree to discharge bills which have been inappropriately assigned to the committee. The chairs may mutually agree, at their discretion, to schedule for hearing any bill referred to the committee that had previously been referred to another committee, including bills heard by such other committee(s).

2. All persons testifying before the committee shall furnish the following information:

               Name of person testifying

               Organizational affiliation of person testifying

               Email address

               Physical address

               Telephone number

               Bill number

               Position on bill (support or opposition)

3. For bills referred to the committee that were the subject of a public hearing held by another committee, only written testimony will be accepted unless the chairs announce their intention to accept oral as well as written testimony when hearings are scheduled, subject to the provisions of Rule I.A.1.

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

5. The chairs shall develop a schedule of hearings and executive sessions, determine the matters to be considered, and prescribe the order in which scheduled matters will be considered at any public hearing or executive session of the committee.

6. Legislators and other public officials wishing to testify on any matter scheduled for hearing may be recognized by the presiding chair and their testimony taken out of order.

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 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. Legislative Information Services may make video and/or audio recordings of hearings at the request of the chairs.

8.  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, without limitation, posters, displays, or charts shall be permitted only upon approval of the chairs.

      B. Rules Relative to the Committee

1. The chairs shall determine which of them will preside at each public hearing or meeting of the committee.

2. In the absence of both chairs, either vice-chair shall act as the presiding chair of the hearing or meeting.

3. In the absence of both chairs and both vice-chairs, a member of the majority party shall be designated by the chairs to be the presiding chair of the meeting. 

4. 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.

5. The presiding chair, at his or her discretion, may limit the time of questioning by 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.


      A. Rules Relative to the Public

1. All executive sessions shall, except as hereinafter provided, be open to the public and the media, except that the committee may hold a private meeting in accordance with Joint Rule 1D.

2. Except for the committee members, no person shall address the committee during an executive session unless specifically requested to do so by the presiding chair.

      B. Rules Relative to Committee Members

1. Each member of the committee shall receive notice of the date, time, place and subject matter of public hearings and executive sessions not less than 72 hours prior to the time of such meetings.

2. 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.

3. A quorum shall be presumed to be present at all executive sessions, unless doubted by a member of the committee.

4. A majority vote of the members present at an executive session shall constitute the recommendation of the committee.  Upon request of two committee members present at the committee meeting, a vote to give legislation a favorable or adverse report shall be conducted by a poll. Such votes shall be recorded on appropriate forms that show all votes for and against the particular committee action in order to determine the committee recommendation on any petition.

5. Any member of the committee shall have the right to be listed as dissenting to the committee report, and may reserve his or her rights at the time of the executive session.

6. Favorable reports, and adverse reports on subjects of legislation other than petitions, shall be made to the branch in which the matter was originally introduced, unless the committee decides otherwise as provided in this rule. Adverse reports by the committee on petitions shall be made to the branch in which the petition was originally introduced unless the committee decides otherwise as provided in this rule. With the agreement of both chairs, the committee may make a favorable or adverse report to a branch other than that in which the matter or petition was originally filed.


  1.   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.  Such poll shall be conducted in the manner prescribed by the chairs. A majority vote of the members participating in the poll shall constitute the recommendation of the committee. Votes of the members shall be recorded on appropriate forms and maintained in committee records.
  2. Each member of the committee shall receive at least 24 hours to review the entire poll.


  1. Copies of these rules are on file in the offices of the Clerk of the Senate and the Clerk of the House of Representatives and shall be available at the offices of the chairs of the committee.


  1. On motion of either chair, adoption, suspension, or modification of these rules shall be made by a concurrence of two-thirds of the members present and voting.