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The 193rd General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Joint Committee on Public Service 192nd (2021 - 2022)


Committee Rules

A. Public Hearings

  1. All bills assigned to the Joint Committee on Public Service shall be scheduled for a public hearing, except as herein provided. The Committee may, by mutual agreement of the Chairs, decide to discharge bills inappropriately assigned to the Committee.
  2. The Senate Chair and House Chair shall agree between themselves who will chair each hearing. In the absence of the Chairs, the Vice Chair present or a Committee member designated by a Chair shall conduct hearings.
  3. All persons testifying before the Committee shall furnish the following information to the Committee.
    1. Name
    2. Organization & Occupation
    3. Address
    4. Telephone number
    5. Email Address
    6. Bill number and subject matter on which the person is testifying
    7. Whether proponent or opponent of the subject matter or bill.
  4. The presiding Chair or acting presiding member (hereafter the Chair”) shall use his or her discretion in scheduling the order in which proposals shall be heard at any public hearing or executive session of the Committee.
  5. No one shall be allowed to speak at any meeting without first being recognized by the Chair. The Chair may limit oral testimony to three minutes per individual. All questions by members of the Committee to witnesses before the Committee shall be addressed through the Chair and shall be pertinent to the subject matter before the Committee. The Chair may limit the number of questions and the amount of question time allowed each member.
  6. Each member of the committee will receive a schedule of the public hearings on legislation referred to the committee. The schedule will group legislation by category, noting the hearing date, time and location. Each member of the committee will be notified of any public hearing or executive session at least 72 hours in advance. The hearing schedule will be subject to amendment by mutual agreement of the chairs.
  7. The Chair must be notified and approve of the use of electronic recording devices at a committee hearing. Hearings may be videotaped by the Legislature’s television service at the request of the Chairs.
  8. At the discretion of the chair, Members of the General Court or other officer of the Commonwealth may be taken out of turn, but, out of respect for the public in attendance, Members and officers may be asked to limit their remarks to three minutes and, to the extent possible, contact the chair in advance of the hearing to schedule a time certain to appear before the committee so that interruptions of public testimony will be as brief as possible.
  9. Two or more witnesses may appear together as a panel (hereinafter “Panel”).  Witnesses requesting to be recognized and called as a Panel will sign into the hearing and identify themselves as a Panel.  Panels will be limited to three minutes per individual, to a maximum of twelve minutes per panel. The Chair may withhold permission for a Member or officer who testifies out of turn to be accompanied by a Panel.
  10. Sick leave bank bills shall not be scheduled for a hearing, except by mutual agreement of the Chairs.

B. Executive Session

  1. Executive sessions may be scheduled after each public hearing and at other appropriate times as determined by the House and Senate Chairs. Whenever an executive session is held at a time other than on the day of a public hearing, each member of the Committee shall be furnished with 72 hours advance notice of the date, place and time of the executive session,  excluding Saturdays, Sundays and legal holidays and subject of such executive session in accordance with rule 6 of section A.
  2. No executive session may be held in the absence of either Committee Chair, except by mutual agreement of both Chairs. The Chair presiding will have general supervision of the executive session.
  3. All executive sessions of the Committee shall be open to the public unless the Committee, in accordance with Joint Rule 1A, votes to close such sessions.
  4. The presiding Chair shall announce the bill for consideration by number and title, and shall, after opening the floor for discussion among Committee members on said bill, make, or request to be made, a motion to take a particular action or no action on said bill. Upon a second motion to take the same action or no action, a vote on said motions shall be taken forthwith.
  5. The members of the Committee shall vote upon each petition by choosing one of the following recommendations: a) Ought to pass; b) Ought to pass with amendments; c) Ought not to pass; d) Discharge to another Committee; e) Held for further consideration; f) Ordered to Study.
  6. A majority vote of the members present at the executive session, together with the vote of any members the Chair may allow to vote electronically consistent with the procedures set forth in Committee Section B, Rule 8 herein, shall constitute the recommendations of the Committee.
  7. Any member of the Committee shall have the right to be listed as dissenting from, or abstaining from the Committee recommendation provided that the Committee Chairs have been informed of this desire by the end of the Executive Session or time designated for the Section B, Rule 8 poll.
  8. In lieu of an executive session, the Committee Chairs, by mutual agreement, may poll the Committee members to determine the recommendation of the Committee on any specific action. Such poll shall be conducted at the direction of the Committee Chairs. The committee members shall be given at least 24 hours to record their votes and the deadline for recording votes and subject matter of the votes shall be announced to each member. All votes received prior to the closing of the poll shall be recorded on the appropriate form and the record of all such roll calls shall be kept in the offices of the Committee and shall be available for public inspection upon reasonable notice during regular office hours.
  9. Action to be taken by the Committee on any bill may be reconsidered upon a motion by not less than two Committee members before the executive session during which the vote to take action or no action on the subject bill is closed. Such motion, upon being made and seconded, shall void the initial vote on the subject bill and cause the bill to be reconsidered during a future executive session in accordance with Rules 4, 5 and 6 or future electronic vote in accordance with Rule 8. Action voted to be taken on any bill shall be reconsidered not more than once.
  10. The Committee Chairs shall determine the branch of the Legislature to which a report or redraft shall be sent.

C. Criteria for Bill Consideration

All bills regarding group classification must meet the following criteria to be considered for a favorable recommendation by the Joint Committee on Public Service.

  1. All requests should be accompanied by a cost estimate that shows the impact of the reclassification on the retirement system’s unfunded liability. Bill sponsors will be responsible for contacting the retirement board directly and acquiring such an estimate. The estimate should be submitted as written testimony prior to or during the hearing in which the bill is scheduled. Estimates will be accepted after the hearing date but a bill will not be considered at executive session without such estimate.
  2. Any reclassification bill that is not accompanied by a cost estimate will not be considered during executive session, until the estimate is received by the Committee.
  3. The criteria for movement to a higher group is based on job responsibilities – not job title.
  4. The criteria for movement to a different group is based on an argument that the current position is too demanding to be sustained until a given age and that sufficient suitable alternative jobs do not exist for workers with the skills that are exercised in current jobs.
  5. The basis for classification for Group 2 is that the daily physical exertion of the job makes it impossible to safely and effectively carry out the functions beyond age 60.

D. Adoptions, Amendments, and Suspensions

  1. These rules shall be adopted by a majority vote of the Senate members present and voting, and a majority of the House members present and voting.
  2. Once adopted, these rules may be amended by two-thirds vote of the Senate members present and voting, and a two-thirds majority of the House members present and voting.
  3. Any rule may be suspended by a two-thirds vote of Senate members present and voting, and a two-thirds vote of House Members present and voting.
  4. The Co-Chairs shall have wide latitude in the enforcement of these rules in the conduct of these obligations.