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The 191st General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Joint Committee on Housing

Joint Committee on Housing
State House, Room 134, Boston, MA
(617) 722-2400


James B. Eldridge   Kevin G. Honan
Senate Chair
  House Chair

Committee Rules for 2013-2014


A.  Public Hearings.

           1.  All bills assigned to the Joint Committee on Housing shall be scheduled for a public hearing, except as provided herein or the Joint Rules.  The Committee Chairs may agree to discharge any bills inappropriately assigned to the Committee.

           2.  All public hearings shall be held on Tuesdays, beginning at 10:00 a.m. and adjourning at 1:00 p.m. and in the case that the hearings may interfere with formal sessions, the Chair may recess, continue or adjourn said hearings.

           3.  Public Hearings may be held in the absence of a quorum.

           4.  Each member of the committee shall receive a schedule of the public hearings on legislation referred to the committee.  The schedule shall group legislation by category, noting the hearing date, time and location.  All dates, times and locations are subject to change at the discretion of the Committee Chairs. Each member of the Committee shall receive an information packet at least 24 hours prior to the public hearing, listing the bill number and title and summary of each bill.

           5.  The Committee Chairs shall determine which of them will preside at each public hearing or meeting of the Committee.  In the absence of both Chairs, the hearing or meeting shall be chaired by either Vice-Chair, or whoever else the chair appoints.

           6.  The Chairperson shall have general supervision of all hearings before the Committee. The Chairperson shall use his or her discretion in scheduling the order in which proposals shall be heard at any Public Hearing or Executive Session of this Committee.

           7.  While ensuring that every person who wishes to testify has the opportunity to do so, testimony of any witness shall be limited to three (3) minutes. The Chairperson, at their discretion, may extend the time of oral testimony available to each witness after giving due consideration to the importance of the subject matter, the number of petitions scheduled for hearing, and the length of time available. 

            8.  Committee members may only question witnesses when they have been recognized by the Chairperson for the purpose.  All questions put to witnesses before the Committee shall be pertinent to the subject matter before the Committee. The pertinence shall be determined by the Chair.

           9.  Priority may be given, whenever possible, to other members of the General Court, other elected municipal officials, or members of the Executive or Judiciary Branches, when the Chairperson schedules order for testimony.

           10.  Agencies are asked to submit their written response to the proposals affecting their agency two full work days before the scheduled hearing to the Committee staff.  In addition, a representative of the agency is requested to prepare oral testimony for the day of the Hearing and be available to answer questions at the Public Hearing or Executive Session.

           11.  All persons testifying before the Committee shall furnish the following information to the Committee:

                                    a. Name;                     b. Organization;
                                    c. Address;                 d. Telephone Number;
                                    e. Bill number and subject matter on which the person is testifying; and
                                    f. A statement of position regarding the legislation, whether proponent or opponent of the subject matter or bill.

           12.  The Committee Chairs shall be provided adequate advance notice of the use of any electronic recording devices during a public hearing. It shall be the decision of the Committee Chairs whether the electronic recording or transmission device may be used in an executive session.

B.  Executive Session.

           1. Executive sessions may be scheduled after a public hearing and at other appropriate times at the discretion of the Committee Chairs.

           2.  Except for Committee members, no person shall address the Committee during an Executive Session unless specifically requested to do so by the Committee Chairs.

           3. No Executive Session may be scheduled, nor may any bill be considered at any Executive Session, except by agreement of both Committee Chairs.

           4. Executive Sessions may be held in the absence of a quorum.

           5. The Chairperson will announce the bill title, explanation may be provided by staff, and discussion will follow by the members.  Following any discussion, a motion shall be made, accepted, and appropriate action shall be taken.

           6. Unless a poll of Committee members is requested on any matter by a Committee member prior to or in attendance at an Executive Session, a majority vote of the members present, including the Committee Chair(s), shall constitute the recommendation of the Committee. If such poll is requested, each member shall be so polled, in the manner prescribed by the Chairs, in order to determine the Committee recommendation on any petition.  A reasonable amount of time, as jointly determined by the Committee Chairs, shall be given for Committee members to record their votes, and the Committee members shall be notified of the subject matter involved and the deadline for responding to the poll.

           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.

           8. No motion to reconsider shall be entertained.

           9.  Records of written testimony submitted at hearings and all recorded votes or polls shall be maintained as public records in the Committee offices, at least until the end of the biennial legislative session in which the action transpired.

           10. The Committee Chairs shall determine the branch of the Legislature to which a report or redraft shall be sent.

           11.  Executive Sessions may be waived by the Chairs on petitions referred to the Committee after Joint Rule 10 has gone into effect, and on matters 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 Chairs, in order to determine the Committee’s recommendation.

          12. A vote of the committee shall be conducted by a roll call upon request of two committee members present at the committee meeting.

C.  Subcommittees. 

As provided in the Joint Rules the Committee Chairs may initiate and form subcommittees regarding the subject matter of any legislative matter or any other subject matter under the jurisdiction of the committee.  Such subcommittee shall make a report of its findings and recommendations to the Committee Chairs prior to the end of the biennium or at a date to be determined by the Committee Chairs. 

D.  Adoptions, Amendments and Suspensions.          

           1. Once adopted, these rules may be amended by a majority vote of Committee Members present and voting.

           2. Any rule may be suspended by a majority vote of Committee Members present and voting.