Frequently Asked Questions

How does an idea become a law?
See “How an Idea Becomes a Law” in our “Educate & Engage” section for a description of the law-making process.
Is there a way to track a bill that is under consideration during the current legislative session?
Proposals currently before the legislature can be looked up by visiting our “Bills and Laws” section.  Among other information, you will see the bill’s current status, upcoming hearings and bill history.
Can I view the full text of a bill?
Yes.  Entire bills can be viewed by conducting a bill search in our “Bills and Laws” section.  Bills can be searched by several methods, including bill number, key word or phrase, as well as city or town.
Where can I find existing Massachusetts laws?
Existing Massachusetts General Laws, Session Laws and the Massachusetts Constitution can be viewed by clicking on the “Bills and Laws” tab.
Some words and phrases on your website are unfamiliar to me. Is there a glossary of legislative terms?
A glossary of legislative terms can be found in the upper, right-hand corner of each web page.
How do I find a law on a particular topic?
A search of Massachusetts General Laws can be done in our “Bills and Laws” section, using keywords and phrases or chapter and sections numbers.
Where can I go to find my legislator?
Information about individual legislators, including your own Representative and Senator, can be found by clicking on the “People” tab.  If you do not know who your legislators are, you can perform a search using your address.  There is also a link to this same search function in the “Educate and Engage” section, under For Teachers and Kids.
How many members are elected to the House of Representatives? How many members of the Senate are there? How are these numbers determined?
The Massachusetts General Court, the formal name for the Massachusetts state legislature, is comprised of 160 House of Representatives districts and 40 Senate districts, as required by the Massachusetts Constitution.  Representatives and senators elected from these districts serve two-year terms.
Are visitors allowed to observe the proceedings while the House or Senate is in session?
Yes.  The House and Senate galleries, which are accessible from the 4th floor, offer balcony-level vantage points and are open to the public during legislative sessions.  Informal sessions usually start at 11:00 AM, while formal sessions generally start at 1:00 PM.
If I am unable to make it to Beacon Hill, will I be able to use my computer and watch legislative sessions from the State House online?
Yes.  Live and archived webcasts of formal legislative sessions can be accessed via links in our “Events” section.

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