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The 192nd General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy

‚ÄčCommittee Rules


Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy

Committee Rules


2019-2020 Legislative Session


General Rules for Public Hearings:


1.      The co-chairmen of the Committee shall alternate in presiding over the public hearings and executive sessions in a manner agreed to by the two co-chairmen; provided that reasonable effort is made that each co-chairman shall preside over an equal number of public hearings.


2.      In the absence of both chairs, the hearing shall be conducted by the Senate or House vice-chair, or the senior member of the Committee present at the hearing.


3.      The co-chairmen of the Committee shall be responsible for providing to the Committee members, prior to a public hearing or executive session, a synopsis of all legislative documents which are the subject of such public hearing or executive session.  The co-chairmen shall ensure that copies of the legislative documents subject to public hearing on a given day are made available to the Committee members.  The co-chairmen may distribute copies of such documents via electronic means.


4.      A notice and agenda of every public hearing of a Committee subject to these rules 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, 72 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.  Such filing and posting shall be the responsibility of the officer calling such meetings. When possible, such notice shall be posted on the General Court's website in a timely matter.


5.      For the purpose of expediting the hearing process, groups of similar bills may be called together, or bills may be called for hearing in numerical sequence within such group, Senate numbers first.  The co-chairmen shall establish a public hearing schedule and shall determine the groupings of similar bills to be heard on each hearing date. 


6.      At each public hearing, oral testimony shall be received in the order posted on each hearing sheet.  The chairman presiding may limit oral testimony to three minutes per individual.  No person may, without the permission of the chairman presiding over the public hearing, read from prepared remarks.  The chairman presiding over the public hearing shall distribute any prepared remarks to all members of the Committee when presented and may do so via electronic means.  The presiding chairman shall make special provisions regarding the application of this provision for persons with disabilities. 


7.      Legislators and other government officials may testify out of turn on any matter before the Committee at that session at the beginning of the hearing.  The presiding chairman shall use his discretion in limiting the amount of time for a legislator so testifying.


8.      Before concluding the public hearing, the presiding chairman shall make a final call for all persons who wish to testify.


9.      Public hearings may be recorded by a person in attendance by means of a recorder or any other means of audio/visual reproduction; provided, that a person seeking to record a public hearing notifies the co-chairmen of the Committee prior to commencing such recording; and provided further that during such recording there is no interference with the conduct of the meeting.

Executive Sessions:


1.      Executive sessions of the Committee shall be called by the co-chairmen in the usual manner.  Unless waived pursuant to a joint agreement by the co-chairmen, no executive session of the Committee shall proceed unless both co-chairmen are present.  The Committee shall hold executive sessions in accordance with the Joint Rules adopted by both branches.


2.      Any Committee member present at an executive session may request a poll of committee members on the recommendations of the co-chairmen for any bill, provided that the poll will begin with those members in attendance, and the vote tally may be provided to committee members when polled.  Any Committee member may dissent from the majority recommendation of the Committee and this shall be recorded on the appropriate form.


3.      If such a poll is requested, each member shall be so polled, in the manner prescribed by the co-chairmen, including via electronic mail, to determine the committee's recommendation.  A majority vote is required to establish the will of the Committee.  Only those votes received prior to the deadline set by the co-chairmen shall be included in the tally.  All records of polls shall be recorded and kept in the committee and be available for inspection.


4.      By mutual agreement, the co-chairmen may conduct a poll of committee members on any bill via electronic mail, in absence of an executive session.


5.      Executive sessions may be waived by the co-chairmen on petitions referred to the Committee after Joint Rule 10 has gone into effect, and on any matter 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 and agreed to by both co-chairmen, in order to determine the Committee's recommendation.


6.      The co-chairmen shall determine the branch of the Legislature to which a report or redraft shall be sent.

Adoptions, Amendments, and Suspensions:


  1. These rules shall be adopted by a majority vote of Committee members of each branch present and voting.

  2. Once adopted, these rules may be amended by two-thirds vote of Committee members of each branch present and voting.

  3. Any rule may be suspended by a two-thirds vote of Committee members of each branch present and voting.

  4. The co-chairmen shall have wide latitude in the enforcement of these rules in the conduct of these obligations.




1.      The co-chairmen shall be responsible to the Committee for the administration of Committee work and the orderly conduct of public hearings, meetings, and executive sessions.


2.      The co-chairmen shall have wide latitude in the enforcement of these rules in the conduct of these obligations, and shall rely on the Rules adopted by the House and Senate to interpret any matters not covered by the Committee Rules.