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The 191st General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Joint Committee on Mental Health, Substance Use and Recovery

COMMITTEE RULES FOR 2017-2018 LEGISLATIVE SESSION

1.    The House and Senate Chairpersons ("Chairs") of the Joint Committee on Mental Health, Substance Use and Recovery ("Committee") shall schedule and have supervision of all Committee hearings or meetings. The Chairs will alternate which one of them will preside at each hearing or meeting; however, the Chairs may mutually agree to change the order.

2.    In the absence of both Chairs, hearings or meetings shall be conducted jointly by the House and Senate Vice Chairpersons ("Vice Chairs").

3.    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.

4.    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 may be suspended by the Chairs in an emergency only after all reasonable efforts have been made to contact committee members.

5.    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.

6.    Testimony before the Committee shall be accepted in written and/or oral form.

7.    Persons testifying before the Committee shall provide the following information to the committee staff prior to testifying:

    1. Bill number and title;
    2. Position on the bill;
    3. Name;
    4. Title and Organization, if applicable;
    5. Mailing address;
    6. Telephone number; and
    7. Email address. 

8.    All persons testifying before the committee shall confine his or her remarks to the pending subject matter.

9.     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.

10. 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.

11. Committee members may question witnesses only after they have been recognized by the presiding Chair for that purpose.

12. 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.

13.  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.

14. All electronic devices are required to be turned off or silenced during hearings, meetings and executive sessions.

15.  No executive session may be scheduled, nor may any bill be considered at any executive session, except by agreement of both Committee Chairs or by consent of a majority of the members of the committee present.

16. Executive sessions shall be open to the public in accordance with Joint Rule 1A. Except for Committee members, no person shall address the Committee during an executive session unless specifically requested to do so by the Chairs. The Committee may vote to close the executive session to the public in accordance with Joint Rule 1D.

17. 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.

18. Records of roll call votes shall be kept in the office of the Committee for the duration of the General Court during which said vote was recorded and shall be available for public inspection upon reasonable notice and during regular office hours.

19. Executive sessions may be held regardless of the number of committee members present.

20. Except for the committee members, no person shall address the Committee during an executive session unless requested to do so by the Chairs.

21. 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.

22. 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.

23. A committee member may make a motion for reconsideration of an executive session decision. Motions for reconsideration shall be made, seconded, and voted upon during the executive session at which the decision was made. Only one motion for reconsideration shall be permitted for each bill.

24. The Chairs, by mutual agreement, shall determine which branch a report of the Committee shall be filed in and shall designate the committee member, if other than a Chair, who will carry the report.

25. 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.

26. The committee rules shall be adopted by a majority vote of those committee members present and voting.

27. Once adopted, the committee rules may be amended by a two-thirds vote of those committee members present and voting.

28. A committee rule may be suspended by a two-thirds vote of those committee members present and voting.