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The 190th General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Joint Committee on Higher Education

Senate Contact

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

House Contact

24 Beacon St. 
Room 43
Boston, MA 02133
Phone:
(617) 722-2030

Rules of Procedure for 2017-2018


Michael O. Moore   John W. Scibak
Senate Chair
 House Chair

PUBLIC HEARINGS

  1. All public hearings shall be conducted by the House or Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Higher Education (hereinafter referred to as the “Committee”) according to a schedule established by the Committee Chairs.  The Committee shall hold a public hearing on each matter referred to the Committee except in cases where: (a) a public hearing 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; or (b) the Committee Chairs agree to waive the public hearing requirement based on their joint determination that public necessity so requires. 
  1. In the absence of the Committee Chairs, the hearing shall be conducted by the House or Senate Vice-Chair of the Committee with permission of the Committee Chairs.  Where neither Committee Vice-Chairs nor Committee Chairs are present, the hearing shall be conducted by such other Committee member as the Committee Chairs may determine.   
  1. The Committee Chairs shall develop a schedule for hearings and executive sessions and determine a list of the matters and the order in which they will be considered at any public hearing or executive session of the Committee.  Whenever possible, petitions involving a similar subject matter may be heard as a group.  Except in the case of emergencies, such lists shall be written and distributed to Committee members 48 hours prior to the hearing, Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays not included.  This list shall also be made available at the hearing to attendees.
  1. Each person testifying before the Committee shall furnish to the Committee staff before the start of the hearing: (a) his or her name, organization (if applicable), address, telephone number, e-mail address; and (b) the bill number and subject matter upon which the person will testify, and whether the person is an opponent or proponent of the subject matter of the bill.  The presiding Committee Chair or acting presiding member, hereinafter referred to as the “Chair”, shall follow the order in which petitions shall be heard at the hearing or executive session established by the Committee Chairs, unless the Chair determines that circumstances warrant a change in such order.  No one shall be allowed to speak at any hearing without first being recognized by the Chair.
  1. While ensuring that every person who wishes to testify has the opportunity to do so, the Chair may limit the time 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.  Any person may submit testimony in writing to the Committee at the time of the hearing, or within such time as the Committee Chairs determine. 
  1. In hearing testimony, the Chair may alternate testimony from the public with testimony from legislators in order to ensure that the general public will have adequate time to address the Committee; provided, that legislators and other public officials may be taken out of turn at the discretion of the Chair.
  1. The Chair shall have general supervision of the Committee hearing and shall preserve order and decorum.  All questions shall be directed through the Chair.  The Chair shall be notified beforehand of any intended use of electronic recording devices at a Committee hearing and shall determine if such devices will be permitted, and, if permitted, he/she, in turn, shall notify the members of the Committee that such devices will be used during such hearing. 
  1. All cell phones and pagers shall be turned off or silenced during hearings and executive sessions.

EXECUTIVE SESSIONS

  1. All executive sessions shall be open to the public and the media, except that the Committee may hold an executive session in accordance with Joint Rule 1D.
  1. No executive session may be held in the absence of either Committee Chair, except by mutual agreement of both Committee Chairs.
  1.  The House Chair and the Senate Chair of the Committee shall make an appropriate recommendation for each petition to be considered during the executive session. The Committee Chairs shall then take a voice vote of all Committee members present and determine what shall constitute the final majority recommendations of the Committee.  The House and the Senate Chair of the Committee shall determine which member shall sign each report of the Committee and shall determine to which branch of the Legislature the recommendation shall be sent.  Any member of the Committee shall have the right to be listed as dissenting from or reserving one’s rights from the Committee recommendations.  This rule may be waived by the Committee Chairs in the case of a bill referred to the Committee after the third Wednesday of February of the second annual session.
  1. Motions on any matter, including requests for recorded roll calls, shall be entertained only if they are seconded by another Committee member.
  1.  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. 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. 
  1.  At the request of any member of the Committee, a motion for reconsideration of any Committee recommendation may be made.  Notice, either written or oral, that such motion will be made must be given to a Committee Chair by 5:00 p.m. on the same day such recommendation is made. Such motion shall be taken up at the next executive session; provided, that only one such motion for reconsideration shall be permitted for any recommendation of the Committee.
  1.  Records of the business of the Committee, including written testimony submitted at hearings and all recorded votes or polls, along with dates and times, shall be maintained in the Committee’s office, at least until the end of the biennial legislative session in which the action transpired, and shall be available for public inspection upon reasonable notice and during regular business hours.

LATE-FILE BILLS

  1. The foregoing rules may be waived by the Committee Chairs in the case of “late-file” bills or bills referred to the Committee after the deadline as outlined in Joint Rule 12.
  1. After the deadline as outlined in Joint Rule 10, all such bills shall be placed in a study order upon the expiration of the twenty-ninth day following its referral to Committee, unless the Committee takes prior alternative action.

GENERAL PROVISIONS

  1. Any Committee rule may be suspended by a two-thirds vote of the members present and voting. 
  1. Executive sessions and hearings may be held in the absence of a quorum.
  1. The Committee Chairs by mutual agreement may discharge a bill referred to the Committee to a more appropriate committee without a public hearing or executive session.
  1. Copies of these rules shall be available to the public from the offices of the House and Senate Committee Chairs and at all public hearings of the Committee.  Copies shall also be transmitted to the Clerk of the House and the Clerk of the Senate, and shall, to the extent practicable, be posted on the Legislative web page.  The Committee may adopt amendments to these rules during the biennial legislative session.  Any such amendments shall be filed with the Clerk of the House and the Clerk of the Senate.
  2. All correspondence from the Committee shall be approved by both Committee Chairs prior to distribution.