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The 190th General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Joint Committee on Community Development and Small Businesses

Senate Contact

24 Beacon St. 
Room 218
Boston, MA 02133
Phone:
(617) 722-1570

House Contact

24 Beacon St. 
Room 26
Boston, MA 02133
Phone:
(617) 722-2080

Rules of the Joint Committee on
Community Development and Small Businesses for 2017-2018 

  1. General Rules for Public Hearings
    1. All matters referred to the Committee in each legislative session shall be given a public hearing.  All public hearings shall be conducted by the Senate or House Chair (the Presiding Chair”)in an agreed upon alternating schedule; provided that reasonable effort is made that each Chair preside over an equal number of public hearings. The Committee need not hold public hearings, however, in cases where:
    2. a public hearing on the bill 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;
    3. the Chairs agree to waive the public hearing requirement based on their joint determination that public necessity so requires.
    4. In the absence of either Chair, the duties of the Chair shall be conducted by the Senate Vice-Chair or the House Vice-Chair on an alternating schedule. Until such time as the Chair is able to resume her duties the Vice Chair shall have the committee powers of the Chair as relates to hearings and executive sessions.
    5. In the absence of the Chairs and Vice-Chairs, the hearing shall be conducted by a member of the Committee as designated by the Chairs.
    6. The Presiding Chair shall have general supervision in all hearings before the Committee and shall preserve order and decorum. Committee members may question witnesses only when they have been recognized by the Chair for that purpose.
    7. Except in an emergency, a notice and an agenda of each meeting of the Committee shall be sent to all Committee members and shall be filed with the clerks of both branches and publicly posted by said clerks in such places as are designated in advance for such purpose, at least 48 hours, excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and legal holidays, prior to that time of such hearing and executive session. 
    8. The Chairs by mutual agreement, shall determine the time and dates for any given hearing and executive session as well as the agenda.  The Chairs shall use their discretion in scheduling the order of petitions to be heard at any public hearing or executive session of the Committee.  Whenever possible, petitions involving a similar subject matter may be heard as a group and petitions shall be heard in the sequence appearing on the Committee hearing calendar. Both Chairs must be notified prior to a Committee hearing or executive session of any intended use of electronic recording devices at such committee hearing or executive session, and the Chairs must notify the members of the Committee that such devices will be used during such hearing or executive session. 
    9. The Presiding Chair may prohibit the use of any recording deemed to interfere or to be likely to interfere with the conduct of the hearing.  Notwithstanding the foregoing, State House authorized web-streaming shall be permitted. 
    10. All cell phones and pagers must be turned off or silenced during hearings and executive sessions.
    11. The Chairs may use electronic forms of communication, including but not limited to, electronic mail, to distribute committee information including, but not limited to, bill summaries, polls and other related materials.
  2. Conduct of Hearings
    1. The presiding Chair shall have general supervision of all hearings before the Committee.
    2. All testimony before the Committee shall be accepted in written and/or oral form at the time of the hearing.  All persons submitting written testimony shall furnish at least two copies of such testimony to the Committee.
    3. All persons testifying before the Committee shall furnish the following information to the Committee staff and or on a witness sign-up sheet: name, organization (if not testifying as an individual), address, telephone number, email, bill number upon which they are testifying, and whether the individual is testifying as an opponent or proponent of the bill.
    4. The presiding Chair may permit Members of the General Court and other public officials to testify out of order. The presiding Chair may call persons testifying without reference to the position of their names on the sign-up sheet.  The Chair reserves the right to re-open closed portions of the hearing to permit testimony of any late arriving witnesses. 
    5. Persons testifying will be asked to limit their testimony to a three minute time period and to summarize their written testimony at the discretion of the presiding Chair.  The Chairs, at their discretion, may extend the length of oral testimony after giving due consideration to the importance of the subject matter, the number of petitions scheduled for hearing and the length of time available.  The presiding chair may make special provisions regarding the application of this provision for persons with disabilities.
    6. Committee members may question persons testifying when they have been recognized by the presiding Chair for that purpose.  The presiding Chair, at his or her discretion, may limit the time of questioning by each member after giving due consideration to the extent to which the member has already asked questions of the person testifying, the importance of the subject matter, the number of petitions scheduled for hearing, and the length of time available.
    7. All questions put to persons testifying before the Committee shall be pertinent to the subject matter before the Committee.  The pertinence of the subject matter shall be determined by the Chairs. 
    8. Anyone may record a written opinion for the Committee and present the testimony to the Committee staff at the time of the public hearing or within 48 hours before an executive session on the matter. 
  3. Executive Session
    1. Executive sessions may be held after each public hearing and at other appropriate times as selected by the Chairs.  Whenever an executive session is held at a time other than after a public hearing, each member of the Committee shall be furnished with adequate, advance notice of the date, time and subject of such executive session.  Adequate notice shall mean at least 24 hours, excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and legal holidays.  The Chairs, by mutual agreement, shall schedule and set the agenda for all executive sessions. 
    2. All executive sessions shall be open to the public unless the Committee votes to close any session pursuant to Joint Rule 1A.
    3. All executive sessions must be attended by both the Senate and House Chair, and no executive session may be held in the absence of either Chair.  This requirement may be waived by mutual agreement of both Chairs.
    4. Executive sessions and hearings may be held in the absence of a quorum.
    5. The Senate and House Chair by mutual agreement shall make an appropriate recommendation for each petition to be considered during the executive session.  Each recommendation must be seconded by another Committee member.  The Senate and House Chair shall then take a voice vote of all Committee members present and determine what shall constitute the final majority recommendations of the Committee.  This rule may be waived by the Chairs in the case of bills referred to the Committee after the third Wednesday of February of the second annual session.
    6. Any Committee member present at the executive session, seconded by another Committee member, may request that a formal roll call vote be taken on a particular petition.  The Senate and House Chair shall then poll each individual member of the Committee.  All votes shall be recorded by noon on the following business day.  Said votes shall be recorded on the appropriate form and the record of all such roll calls shall be kept in the offices of the Committee and shall be available for public inspection.  In the event of a tie vote, the petition shall remain in committee and the Senate or House chair, seconded by another committee member, may move to take up the matter at a later executive session.
    7. In lieu of an executive session, the Senate and House Chairs, by mutual agreement, may conduct a poll of each Committee member to determine the recommendation of the Committee on any specific petition. A reasonable amount of time, as determined by the Chairs, shall be given for members to record their votes, and the deadline for recording votes shall be announced to each Committee member. All votes received prior to the closing of the poll shall be recorded on the appropriate form and the record of all such roll calls shall be kept in the offices of the Committee and shall be available for public inspection.
    8. Any committee member may dissent from the majority recommendation of the Committee, provided such member notifies both Chairs in writing by 5:00 pm on the day of the executive session on said bill.   This dissent shall be recorded on the appropriate form and deposited with the Senate or House Clerk.
    9. At the request of any Committee member present at an executive session, a motion for reconsideration of an executive session committee recommendation may be made by another Committee member.  Written notice that such motion has been made must be given to the Chairs of the committee on the same calendar day of the committee’s decision on said matter.   Such motion shall be taken up at the next regularly scheduled executive session, provided that only one such motion for reconsideration shall be permitted for any petition.  This rule may be waived by the Chairs in the case of bills referred to the Committee after the third Wednesday of February of the second annual session.
    10.  The Senate and House Chairs, by mutual agreement, may discharge a bill referred to this Committee to a more appropriate Committee without a public hearing.
    11.  In voting on bills or other matters before it, the Committee shall choose one of the following recommendations:
    12. 11.1     Ought to Pass
      11.2     Ought to Pass with amendments
      11.3     Ought not to pass
      11.4     Study/referral/discharge

    13.  Matters reported by the Committee shall be sent to the branch of the legislature in which the matter originated, unless the Chairs agree otherwise. Any petitions recommended for further study by the committee shall be referred to the originating body in a further study order. 
  4. Copy of Rules
    1. A copy of these rules shall be made available to the public from the offices of the Senate and House Committee Chairs.
  5. Adoption, Suspension or Modification of Committee Rules
    1. On the motion of either Chair, adoption, suspension or modification of these rules shall be made by a majority of the Committee members, provided that both Committee Chairs consent to the adoption, suspension, or modification
    2. 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.  After the deadline as established in Joint Rule 10 for making final reports, all such late-file bills shall be placed in a study order upon the expiration of the twenty-ninth day following its referral to Committee, unless the Committee in executive session takes prior alternative action.