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  • PART I ADMINISTRATION OF THE GOVERNMENT
  • TITLE I JURISDICTION AND EMBLEMS OF THE COMMONWEALTH, THE GENERAL COURT, STATUTES AND PUBLIC DOCUMENTS
  • CHAPTER 4 STATUTES
  • Section 6 Rules for construction of statutes

Section 6. In construing statutes the following rules shall be observed, unless their observance would involve a construction inconsistent with the manifest intent of the law-making body or repugnant to the context of the same statute:

First, The repeal of a statute shall not revive any previous statute, except in case of the repeal of a statute, after it has become law, by vote of the people upon its submission by referendum petition.

Second, The repeal of a statute shall not affect any punishment, penalty or forfeiture incurred before the repeal takes effect, or any suit, prosecution or proceeding pending at the time of the repeal for an offence committed, or for the recovery of a penalty or forfeiture incurred, under the statute repealed.

Third, Words and phrases shall be construed according to the common and approved usage of the language; but technical words and phrases and such others as may have acquired a peculiar and appropriate meaning in law shall be construed and understood according to such meaning.

Fourth, Words importing the singular number may extend and be applied to several persons or things, words importing the plural number may include the singular, and words of one gender may be construed to include the other gender and the neuter.

Fifth, Words purporting to give a joint authority to, or to direct any act by, three or more public officers or other persons shall be construed as giving such authority to, or directing such act by, a majority of such officers or persons.

Sixth, Wherever any writing is required to be sworn to or acknowledged, such oath or acknowledgment shall be taken before a justice of the peace or notary public, or such oath may be dispensed with if the writing required to be sworn to contains or is verified by a written declaration under the provisions of section one A of chapter two hundred and sixty-eight.

Seventh, Wherever action by more than a majority of a city council is required, action by the designated proportion of the members of each branch thereof, present and voting thereon, in a city in which the city council consists of two branches, or action by the designated proportion of the members thereof, present and voting thereon, in a city having a single legislative board, shall be a compliance with such requirement.

Eighth, Wherever publication is required in a newspaper published in a city or town, it shall be sufficient, when there is no newspaper published therein, if the publication is made in a newspaper with general circulation in such city or town. If a newspaper is not published in such city or town and there is no newspaper with general circulation in such city or town, it shall be sufficient if the publication is made in a newspaper published in the county where such city or town is situated. A newspaper which by its title page purports to be printed or published in such city, town or county, and which has a circulation therein, shall be deemed to have been published therein.

Ninth, Wherever a penalty or forfeiture is provided for a violation of law, it shall be for each such violation.

Tenth, Words purporting to give three or more public officers or other persons authority to adopt, amend or repeal rules and regulations for the regulation, government, management, control or administration of the affairs of a public or other body, board, commission or agency shall not be construed as authorizing the adoption of a rule or regulation relative to a quorum which would conflict with the provisions of clause Fifth in the absence of express and specific mention therein to that effect.

Eleventh, The provisions of any statute shall be deemed severable, and if any part of any statute shall be adjudged unconstitutional or invalid, such judgment shall not affect other valid parts thereof.