Skip to Content
The 193rd General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Joint Committee on Mental Health and Substance Abuse


Joan B. Lovely     Liz Malia
Senator     Representative
Senate Chair     House Chair
Room 313A     Room 33
(617) 722-1410     (617) 722-2060


  1. Hearings, meetings and executive sessions of the Joint Committee on Mental Health and Substance Abuse (“Committee”) shall be conducted jointly by the House and Senate Chairpersons (“Chairs”). The Chairs will alternate which one of them will preside at each hearing, meeting or executive session; however, the Chairs may mutually agree to change the order.
  1. In the absence of the Chairs, hearings or meetings shall be conducted jointly by the House and Senate Vice Chairpersons (“Vice Chairs”).
  1.  In the absence of the Chairs and Vice Chairs, hearings or meetings shall be conducted by a committee member of the majority party designated by the Chairs.
  1. The Chairs shall schedule and have general supervision of all Committee hearings, meetings and executive sessions.
  1. Committee members shall be furnished with notice of the date, time, place and agenda of hearings, meetings and executive session at least forty-eight (48) hours in advance. The forty eight (48) hour requirement shall be suspended by the Chairs in an emergency only after all reasonable efforts have been made to contact committee members.
  1.  Each bill assigned to the Committee shall be scheduled for a public hearing. The Chairs may use their discretion in scheduling the order of bills to be heard. The Chairs may mutually agree to discharge a bill initially referred to the Committee to another committee with jurisdiction over the bill.
  1. Testimony before the Committee shall be accepted in written and/or oral form.
  1. Persons testifying before the Committee shall provide the following information to the committee staff prior to testifying:
  1. Bill number;
  2. Position on the bill;
  3. Name;
  4. Title and Organization;
  5. Mailing address;
  6. Telephone number; and
  7. Email address.
  1. Legislators and other public officials wishing to testify on any matter before the Committee may be recognized by the presiding Chair and their testimony taken out of order.
  1. The length of time for oral testimony of a witness shall be limited to three (3) minutes; additional time may be granted at the discretion of the presiding Chair.
  1. Committee members may question witnesses only after they have been recognized by the presiding Chair for that purpose.
  1. The presiding Chair may limit the time of questioning by each committee member after giving due consideration to the extent to which the committee member has already asked questions of the witness, the importance of the subject matter, the number of bills scheduled for hearing and the length of time available.
  1.  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 the hearing notifies the Chairs prior to commencing such recording; and provided further that during such recording there is no interference with the conduct of the hearing. Committee members shall be notified by the Chair before the start of the hearing that a recording device will be used.
  1. All electronic devices are required to be turned off or silenced during hearings, meetings and executive sessions.
  1. The Chairs are required to attend executive sessions and no executive session may be held in the absence of either Chair. This requirement may be waived by mutual agreement of the Chairs.
  1.  The Committee shall hold an executive session to take action on bills heard before the Committee. The Chairs, by mutual agreement, may poll the committee members instead of holding an executive session. Each committee member shall be polled in the manner prescribed by the Chairs to determine the Committee’s decision on the bill. Records of polls and executive session votes shall be kept in the office of the Committee and shall be available for public inspection upon reasonable notice and during regular office hours.
  1. Executive sessions may be held regardless of the number of committee members present, subject to Committee Rule 15 and 16.
  1.  Executive sessions shall be open to the public unless the Committee, in accordance with Joint Rule 1A, votes to close the executive session.
  1.  Except for the committee members, no person shall address the Committee during an executive session unless requested to do so by the Chairs.
  1. At an executive session, the presiding Chair shall announce the bill for consideration by number, title, and sponsor. The presiding Chair shall then make or request to be made a motion to take a particular action on the bill. Upon a second of the motion and discussion, a vote on the motion shall be taken. A majority vote of the committee members present shall constitute the decision of the Committee.
  1.  A committee member may be listed as “dissenting” on the report of the Committee provided that the committee member notifies the Chairs by 5:00 p.m. on the next business day following the vote on said bill.
  1.  A committee member may make a motion for reconsideration of an executive session decision. If the motion is not made during the executive session the committee member has until 5:00 p.m. on the next business day to notify the Chairs in writing. The motion shall be taken up at the next executive session. Only one motion for reconsideration shall be permitted for each bill.
  1.  The Chairs shall determine which branch a favorable committee report shall be filed in and shall designate the committee member, if other than a Chair, who will carry the report.
  1.  A copy of the committee rules shall be made available to the public by filing a copy with the Clerk of the Senate and the Clerk of the House and by retaining a copy at the office of the Committee.
  1. The committee rules shall be adopted by a majority vote of those committee members present and voting.
  1.  Once adopted, the committee rules may be amended by a two-thirds vote of those committee members present and voting.
  1. A committee rule may be suspended by a two-thirds vote of those committee members present and voting.