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The 190th General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security

Senate Contact

24 Beacon St. 
Room 109-B
Boston, MA 02133
Phone:
(617) 722-1485

House Contact

24 Beacon St. 
Room 167
Boston, MA 02133
Phone:
(617) 722-2230
2017-2018 LEGISLATIVE SESSION

GENERAL RULES FOR COMMITTEE PROCEEDINGS

 

A.        PUBLIC HEARINGS

1.  All public hearings shall be conducted by either the Senate or House Chair.

2.  In the absence of both Chairs, the hearing shall be conducted by the Senate or House Vice-Chair.

3.  In the absence of the Chairs and Vice-Chairs, the hearings shall be conducted by the ranking senior member of the majority party, as determined by years of service on the committee.

4.  The presiding member shall open and close Committee proceedings, shall have general supervision of all committee hearings and shall preserve order and decorum.  The presiding member shall use his/her discretion in scheduling the order in which proposals shall be heard at any public hearing of the committee.

5. No electronic audio or visual recording devices may be operated during a Committee proceeding without prior consent of both Chairmen, or the presiding Chairman if only one Chairman is present. If neither Chairman is present at the hearing, no electronic audio or visual recording devices may be operated. 

6.  The testimony of any witness shall be limited to three minutes.  The presiding member, at his/her discretion, may extend the length of oral testimony for any witness.

7.  Committee members may question witnesses only when they have been recognized for that purpose by the presiding member.  All committee members' questions shall be directed through the presiding member.  The presiding member may limit the time for questioning witnesses after giving due consideration to the importance of the subject matter, the number of petitions scheduled for a hearing and the length of time available.

8.  All questions put to witnesses before the committee shall be pertinent to the subject matter before the committee, and all testimony given by witnesses shall be pertinent to the subject matter before the committee.

9. After giving due consideration to the complexity and potential impact of the matter before the Committee, the number of matters scheduled to be heard by the Committee and the available time, the presiding member may restrict repetitive testimony and may limit both the time allowed for testimony and questioning by Committee members.

10.  All persons intending to submit written testimony to the committee shall furnish copies of such written testimony to the committee staff within 24 hours of the hearing. At the discretion of the Chairs this rule may be waived for an extension of time. Testimony may also be submitted by electronic means.

11.  All persons testifying orally before the committee shall furnish the following information to the committee staff before each hearing:

            1. Name

            2. Organization – if any

            3. Address

            4. Telephone number

            5. Email address – if applicable

            6. The bill on which the person is testifying

            7. His or her position on the bill – support or oppose

12.  Public hearings may be held in the absence of a quorum.

13. The Committee need not hold public hearings, however, in cases where:

  1. A public hearing on the bill has already been held before another joint committee with jurisdiction over the subject matter and a second public hearing before the Committee is not otherwise required;
  2. The Chairs agree to waive the public hearing requirement based on their joint determination that public necessity so requires it; or
  3. The Chairs jointly agree to discharge a bill that has been inappropriately assigned to the Committee.

 

B.        EXECUTIVE SESSIONS

1.  Executive sessions shall be held immediately after a public hearing or on other occasions as prescribed by the agreement of Chairs.  Whenever an executive session is held at a time other than following a public hearing, each member of the committee shall be furnished with adequate notice of the date, time, location and subject of such executive session.

2.  All executive sessions shall be open to the public, except that the committee may hold private meetings by a vote of the majority of members present.

3.  All executive sessions shall be attended by both the Senate and House Chair, and no executive session may be held in the absence of either Chair.  This requirement may be waived only by mutual agreement of both Chairs.

4.  The agenda for all executive sessions shall be agreed upon by both the Senate and House Chair prior to the scheduled date and time. No agenda for an executive session may be amended without the mutual agreement of both Chairs.

5.  Executive sessions may be held in the absence of a quorum, provided that at least two members of the committee are present.

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

7.  The Chair may accept a motion for referral from any committee member present at the executive session.  Motions must take the form of one of the following recommendations:  

            1. Ought to pass – referred to House of Representatives for further consideration

            2. Ought to pass – referred to Senate for further consideration

3. Ought to pass, as redrafted, - referred to House of Representatives for further consideration

            4. Ought to pass, as redrafted, - referred to Senate for further consideration

            5. Ought not to pass

            6. Study order

            7. Discharge to (insert committee)

            8. Hold/ No Action

8.  Unless a poll of committee members is requested by a member in attendance at an executive session, a majority vote of the members present at the executive session, including the Senate and House Chairs, shall determine the recommendation of the committee.

9.  If such a poll is requested, each member shall be so polled, in the manner agreed to and prescribed by the Chairs, to determine the committee's recommendation.  A majority vote is required to establish the will of the committee.  Only those votes received prior to the deadline set by the Chairs shall be included in the tally.

10.  Any member of the committee shall have the right to be listed as "Dissenting" on the report of the committee on any bill, provided such member notifies either Chair within 24 hours of the committee's decision on said matter.

11.  At the request of any member of the committee, a motion for reconsideration of an executive session recommendation may be made.  Notice, whether written or oral, that such motion will be made, must be given within 24 hours of the committee's decision on said matter.  Such motion shall be taken up at the next executive session, provided that only one such motion for reconsideration shall be permitted for any petition.

12.  Executive sessions may be waived by the Chairs on petitions referred to the committee after Joint Rule 10 has gone into effect, and on any matter retained by the committee after said rule has gone into effect, pursuant to extension orders adopted in the Senate and the House of Representatives.  In any such instance, a poll of the members shall be conducted in the manner prescribed by the Chair, in order to determine the committee's recommendation.​

C.        MISCELLANEOUS

1.  Whenever possible, a notice and agenda of every public hearing of a committee subject to these rules shall be filed with the Clerk of the Senate and the Clerk of the House and publicly posted in such places as are designated in advance for such purpose by said Clerks, at least one week 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.  Such filing and posting shall be the responsibility of the officer calling such meetings.

2. A copy of these rules shall be on file with the Senate and House Clerks and shall be available to the public from the offices of the Senate and House Chairs, and at all public hearings and executive sessions of the committee.

3. In certain cases, where exigent circumstances may present themselves, the Chairs may agree to call an oversight hearing of the Committee. All oversight hearings shall be attended by both the Senate and House Chair, and no oversight hearing may be held in the absence of either Chair. This requirement may be waived only by mutual agreement of both Chairs.

4. The Chairs, at their discretion, may form subcommittees comprised of an individual member or members of the Committee. Upon agreement of the Chairs, a Chair of the subcommittee shall be appointed. All subcommittees must present a written report to the Committee upon completion of their research. ​