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The 191st General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Joint Committee on Veterans and Federal Affairs

Joint Committee on Veterans & Federal Affairs
Room 174, State House, Boston, MA  02133-1054
Tel. (617) 722-2877 – Fax (617) 626-0736


Michael F. Rush   Carlo P. Basile
Senate Chair

  House Chair

Committee Rules for 2013-2014


  1. GENERAL RULES FOR COMMITTEE MEETINGS
    1. Public hearings shall be conducted by the House or Senate Chair, or designated Chair, in accordance with the Joint Rules of the House and Senate for the years 2010-2011.  In the absence of both Chairs, the hearing shall be conducted by a Vice-Chair or someone appointed by either Chair.
    2. Each member of the Committee will receive a hearing package at least 48 hours in advance of a public hearing.  The package will contain the date, time, and location for the hearing.  Also included in the package will be a bill summary for each bill scheduled to be heard on that day. Members are responsible for bringing the package to the hearing.Each member of the Committee shall also be given at least 48 hours written notice of the date, time, location, and list of bills to be considered at an executive session.  Only in the event of an emergency, as declared by either Chair, may the 48 hour requirement be suspended in accordance with the Joint Rules.
    3. Whenever possible, a notice and agenda of every public hearing or executive session of the Committee 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 48 hours 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.
    4. All persons intending to submit written testimony to the Committee shall furnish copies of such written testimony to the Committee staff no later than the time of the hearing at which such testimony is to be considered.
    5. Agencies are asked to submit their written response to proposals affecting their agency no later than 48 hours prior to the hearing. 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.
    6.  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.  Groups of similar bills may be called together.
    7. All cell phones and pagers must be turned off or silenced and text messaging and E-mailing are prohibited during hearings and executive sessions.
    8.  The Chair, must be given adequate notice beforehand of any intended use of electronic recording devices or cameras at a Committee hearing or executive session.  It is the decision of the presiding Chair, whether said devices may be used.
    9. Public hearings and executive sessions may be held in the absence of a quorum.
    10. The Chairs, when in agreement, may discharge to other committees those matters which have been inappropriately referred to the Joint Committee on Veterans & Federal Affairs. 

  2. CONDUCT OF PUBLIC HEARINGS
    1. The Co-Chairs of the Committee shall share the role of presiding over the public hearings and executive sessions in a manner agreed to by the two Co-Chairs; provided that a reasonable effort is made by each Co-Chair to preside over an equal number of public hearings
    2. The presiding Chair shall have general supervision of all hearings before the Committee. Testimony by each person on each bill may be limited to three minutes by the presiding Chair.  The presiding Chair, may, at his or her discretion, may waive the time limit on testimony. Committee members may only question witnesses when they have been recognized by the presiding Chair.    The presiding Chair, may, at his or her discretion, limit the time for questioning.
    3. At each public hearing, witnesses may give oral testimony and shall be received as each bill is considered based on the order they signed in on the hearing sign-in sheet.  Legislators, other government officials, and other persons identified by the presiding Chair may testify out of turn, with the approval of the Chair or presiding member, on any matter scheduled for a hearing before the Committee on that day.
    4. All questions asked of witnesses before the Committee should be germane to the subject matter before the Committee.
    5. Before concluding the public hearing, the presiding Chair may make a final call for all persons who wish to testify.

  3. ADOPTION, AMENDMENT, AND SUSPENSION
    1. These rules shall be adopted by a majority vote of the Senate members present and Voting, and a majority vote of the House members present and voting.
    2. Once adopted, these rules may be amended by a two-thirds vote of the Senate members present and voting, and a two-thirds vote of the House members present and voting.
    3. Any rule may be suspended by a two-thirds vote of the Senate members present and voting, and a two-thirds vote of the House members present and voting.
       

  4. EXECUTIVE SESSIONS
    1. Executive sessions of the Committee shall be called by the Co-Chairs. The Co-Chairs  shall set the agenda for executive sessions by mutual agreement.  Unless waived pursuant to a joint agreement by the Co-Chairs, no executive session of the Committee shall proceed unless both Co-Chairs are present.
    2. All executive sessions are open to the public at the discretion of the presiding Chair.  Public testimony or comment is not allowed at executive sessions.
    3. The members of the Committee shall appropriately discuss each petition and shall vote thereafter.  A majority of members present, including the Chairs, shall constitute the recommendation of the Committee.
    4. Committee members’ questions and comments shall pertain to the subject matter of the legislation being considered.  The Committee may vote on the legislation before it by choosing one of the following recommendations:

      -Ought to pass
      -Ought to pass with amendments
      -Ought not to pass
      -Study/Referral

      Committee members may also choose to reserve their rights and abstain from voting. 

       

      Additionally, the Co-Chairs may file an extension order, if so needed.

    5. Any member of the Committee has the right to be listed as dissenting from the Committee report.   A report of the Committee will not be final and shall not be filed until all Committee members have been given a period of 24 hours in which to indicate their dissent from said report.  Senate members shall file any dissenting views with the Senate Chair and House members shall file any dissenting views with the House Chair.
    6. 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.
    7. Upon agreement of the Co-Chairs, action may also be taken on a bill after advance written notification of at least 48 hours to all members regarding the intended action.  A majority vote is required to establish the will of the Committee.  Votes may be cast in person, by email, or by phone. 
    8. The record of any roll call votes shall be made available to the public upon request.
    9. The Co-Chairs, shall rely on the Joint Rules adopted by the House and Senate to interpret any matters not covered by the Committee Rules.