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February 23, 2024 Clouds | 39°F
The 193rd General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Joint Committee on Veterans and Federal Affairs 191st (2019 - 2020)

Room 238, State House, Boston, MA  02133-1054

Tel. (617) 722-2380 Fax (617) 722-9278

SENATOR Walter F. Timilty
Senate Chair
REPRESENTATIVE Linda Dean Campbell
House Chair
SENATOR Michael F. Rush
Senate Vice-Chair

House Vice-Chair


A.  Public Hearings.

1.  All bills assigned to the Joint Committee on Veterans and Federal Affairs 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. The House and Senate Chairs shall be responsible for determining the schedule for all public hearings.  Whenever possible, bills that are referred to the Committee should be scheduled according to subject matter.  At the time of scheduling a public hearing, the Chairs shall agree which of them shall preside at such hearing. Notification of a hearing shall be submitted to the public and the members within 72 hours of the hearing. If public testimony is being solicited, an electronic mail address and physical mail address shall be made available to the public for the submission of testimony.

3.  Public Hearings may be held in the absence of a quorum. However, the committee shall provide to members either the text or comprehensive summaries of the bills or other forms of legislative matters prior to the beginning of an executive session or poll.

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.   In the absence of the particular Chair who was scheduled to preside at a particular hearing, and absent the Chair of the alternate branch, the Vice-Chair of the same branch as the Chair scheduled to preside, or other committee member appointed by said Chair, shall preside at the hearing.

6.  The Presiding Member shall have general supervision of all matters before the Committee during a hearing. The Presiding Member shall use his or her discretion in scheduling the order in which proposals shall be heard at such Public Hearing 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 Presiding Member, 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 Presiding Member 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 Presiding Member.

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 Presiding Member 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, if applicable;
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.  When an executive session is scheduled, the Committee Chairs shall agree which of them shall preside at such executive session.  The Chairs shall agree to an agenda at the time of scheduling an executive session.  Whenever an executive session is held at a time other than after a Public Hearing, each member of the Committee shall be furnished with advance notice, including the agenda of the session, at least 24 hours before the session.

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

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. Both the House and Senate Chairs shall be in attendance at all executive sessions.

5. The Presiding Chair will announce each item appearing on the agenda, explanation may be provided by staff, and discussion will follow by the members.  Following any discussion, a motion shall be made as to the recommendation of the committee.

6. A poll shall be conducted on a bill that has had a hearing if requested by two members or at the consent of both Chairs.  A poll may be conducted on a bill that has not had a hearing at the consent of both Chairs.  Whenever a poll is to be taken, the Committee members shall be notified at least 48 hours in advance, with the date, time and subject matter, of such poll; and, the Committee members shall be given at least 24 hours to respond to the poll. The Committee Chairs shall determine the form of any poll and may jointly agree to waive the notice period or modify the time given to respond. 

7. For any vote on a Committee recommendation the votes of the members from each branch shall be considered separately.  If the verdicts of the votes of the members of each branch are in agreement then that shall constitute the recommendation of the committee.  If the votes are in disagreement, the votes of the members of the branch to which the recommendation will be reported shall take precedence.

8. 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 in which the vote on such matter took place or by the deadline of any poll on such matter.

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. Matters reported by the Committee shall be sent to the branch of the legislature in which the matter originated, unless the Chairs agree otherwise.

11.  Executive Sessions may be waived by the Chairs on petitions referred to the Committee after the first Wednesday in February of the second annual session of the General Court, and on matters retained by the Committee after said date 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. 

1. 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 the concurrence of a majority vote of the Committee Members of each branch, present and voting.

2. Any rule may be suspended by the concurrence of a majority vote of the Committee Members of each branch, present and voting.​

E. General Rules.

1.   The Committee Chairs shall rely on the Joint Rules adopted by the House and Senate to interpret any matters not covered by the Committee Rules.​​