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The 193rd General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts



A bill that has become law.
Acts and Resolves
A compilation of the bills and resolves that become law.
Ad Hoc Committee
A committee formed for some special purpose.
Termination of a daily session.
Administrative Agency
A state agency or department.
The question on matters relating directly to the legislative body requiring only one vote.
Adverse Report
A committee recommendation that a matter "ought not to pass".
A proposed modification to a legislative document that is recommended by a committee or legislator for consideration in a daily session. *see also Governor's Message.
Appeal the Decision of the Chair
A parliamentary procedure for a legislator to challenge the decision of the presiding officer.
Appropriations Bill
A budget bill.
Approved by the Governor
The signature of the governor on an engrossed and enacted bill.


A data string that contains the name(s) of the primary sponsor(s), the words "petition" or "joint petition," the petitioners' name(s), type of document (bill, resolve, etc.), a brief description of document (may be the same or similar to the title), the committee reference and, if applicable, local approval information.
Biennial Session
The two-year period between the convening of the General Court in its first meeting and its prorogation or final adjournment.
Document under consideration prior to becoming an act.
Bill History
The list or record of actions taken on a legislative document during a biennial session.
Bill Number
A number assigned by the clerk to a legislative document that is then used instead of the docket number for identification purposes.
Branch of Origin
If a committee report is favorable or a bill is submitted for another matter, the branch to which the legislative document is first reported or submitted is the branch of origin unless the legislative document is referred by the Clerk, under Joint Rule 1E, to the Committee on Health Care Financing ("HCF"), then the branch of origin is the branch to which HCF reports the legislative document with a favorable report.
By Request
Indicates that the legislative document does not have a legislator as a petitioner and is being filed by a legislator under a citizen's right of free petition.


An agenda for each day of a formal session.
Calendar Item Number
The unique number assigned by a clerk to a legislative document being placed on the calendar.
Meeting of legislators, who are of the same political party or who share a common interest, to decide policy and course of action.
The two meeting places of the House and Senate where the formal business of the day is conducted. Chamber galleries are open to the public.
A staff person in either the House or Senate Clerks' offices.
One of the 27 joint standing committees, 9 House standing committees, or 7 senate standing committees. Committees, their membership sizes, and appointment procedures are set forth in the Rules and may be changed periodically.
Committee Action
A committee's action on a legislative document.
Committee Assignment
The committees to which a legislator is assigned.
Committee Member
A legislator assigned to a particular committee.
Committee Reference
The committee to which a clerk refers a legislative document.
Committee Report
A committee’s recommendation on a legislative document that has been referred to said committee.
Committee Staff
People who work for a committee under the direction of the committee chair.
Committees on Bills in the Third Reading
Committees in both the Senate and House that are empowered to examine and correct: bills and resolves prior to their final reading in the Senate or House; resolutions prior to their adoption; and, amendments to bills, resolves and resolutions before a branch for concurrence after adoption by another branch.
Agreement by one branch with an action originating in the other branch.
Conference Committee
A committee composed of three members of each branch for the purpose of resolving differences between House and Senate versions of the same bill. The report of a conference committee must be voted up or down by each branch and may not be amended.
Constitutional Convention
Meeting of the Senate and House of Representatives in the House chamber to consider and vote on proposed constitutional amendments. The procedure is governed by special rules adopted by both branches. *See also Joint Session.
Cover Sheet
A sheet used to cover a legislative document containing key information about the action taken on that legislative document.


Daily List
List of committee hearings, giving the committee name, its matters, and the time and room number of each hearing.
Date Filed
The date that a legislative document is submitted to or filed with a clerk.
Formal discussion on a matter before a legislative body.
Discharge Report
A committee report filed with a clerk if a committee believes that a legislative document referred to it contains subject matter that is outside its jurisdiction.
A committee member who disagrees with a proposed committee report and requests that fact to be noted on the report.
Docket Entry
A form or record containing the following data about a legislative document: docket number; refile number; refile year; date filed; by request, document type; type of legislation; primary sponsor; petitioners and related information; brief description (or title); and. a blank to be later filled in with the bill number.
Docket Number
A chronological number assigned to the legislative document upon receipt by the clerk.
The preparation of the text of a legislative document prior to its being filed with a clerk.


Emergency Preamble
A preamble to a legislative document, setting forth the facts constituting an emergency and stating that the law is necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health, safety or convenience.
Enactment Final
Passage of a bill by the House or Senate.
Engrossed Bill or Resolve
Final version of a bill or resolve as passed by the House or Senate.
Engrossing Division
A joint office responsible for, among other things, preparing legislative documents on special parchment for final passage.
Executive Session
A committee meeting during which the committee members decide upon the report type to be filed with a clerk for consideration by the larger body and (if discharge, favorable, study or extension) to which branch the report will be submitted. At such meetings, only committee members testify.
Extension Order
An order extending the reporting deadline for a committee.


Favorable Report
A committee recommendation that a matter "ought to pass".
A deliberate obstruction of the legislative process by making a long speech.
First Reading
The first reading of a legislative document receiving a favorable report from a committee occurs automatically when the committee report appears in the journal of the branch of origin. It is also considered the first reading when a bill or resolve is submitted for an adverse committee report.
Formal Session
Meeting to consider and act upon reports of committees, messages from the governor, petitions, orders, enactments, papers from the other branch, matters in the Orders of the Day, and various other matters that may be controversial in nature and during which roll call votes may be taken.


General Court
The formal name for the Massachusetts state legislature.
General Law
Existing law that applies generally to the Commonwealth and its citizens. *See also Special Law.
Governor’s Message
A legislative document submitted by the governor or acting governor that may include a veto, recommended legislation or recommended amendments to matters awaiting executive approval, as well as any communication to the General Court.


House and Senate Rules
Rules - of order and procedure, adopted by each branch at the beginning of each biennial session.


Informal Session Meeting
Designated by the Speaker of the House and Senate President to consider reports of committees, enactments, papers from the other branches, amendments, matters in the Orders of the Day, and various other matters that are of a non-controversial nature.
Initiative Petition
Request filed with the Secretary of the Commonwealth by a specified number of voters and transmitted to the legislature. If approved by the legislature, it is then submitted (by state-wide election) to the people for approval or rejection.


Joint Committees
Currently twenty-seven committees, consisting of senators and representatives, responsible for holding public hearings and reporting on all legislative documents referred to them.
Joint Rule 10
Rule ordering that all matters referred to joint committees be reported out of committees by the third Wednesday in March of the second annual session and within 30 days on all matters referred to them on and after the third Wednesday in February of the second annual session of the General Court.
Joint Rule 33
Rule allowing the alteration, suspension or recession of joint rules by a concurrent 2/3 vote of members present and voting. Some rules are suspended only by a 4/5 vote and a very few by unanimous consent.
Joint Rules
Rules for the governing of the two bodies, adopted by both branches.
Joint Session
A meeting of both branches in Joint Session for the purposes of considering constitutional amendments, initiative petitions, etc....
A record of the proceedings for the House, the Senate or a Joint Session for a particular daily session (which may include multiple legislative days), including legislative documents considered, amendments offered and votes taken.



Lay on Table
To temporarily lay aside the consideration of a specific legislative document or motion. * Senate only.
A generic term used for legislative documents (bills, resolves, special acts, governors’ messages and department recommendations) pending before the General Court.
Legislative Aide
An assistant to a legislator.
Legislative Document
Any document considered during the legislative process.
Legislative Year
The first legislative year starts with the opening of the biennial session and ends at midnight on Tuesday before the first Wednesday of the following year. The second legislative year starts on the first Wednesday of the second year and ends when the legislature prorogues or at midnight on Tuesday before the first Wednesday of the following year.
A member of the House or Senate. There are 200 legislative districts (160 Representatives and 40 Senators).
Local Approval
The authorization required from an individual city or town that wishes, under home rule, to have the General Court authorize a particular city or town action.


Massachusetts General Laws
All of the laws of Massachusetts of a general and permanent nature as embodied in the Official Edition of the Massachusetts General Law.
Money Bill
A bill that transfers money or property from the people to the Commonwealth.


Disagreement by one branch with the action of the other branch.


Orders of the Day (Calendar)
Listing of most matters to be considered by the Senate and the House at each sitting.
Outside Section
A section of an appropriation bill that may deal with an existing line-item in an appropriation, but may also amend an existing law or create a new law.
To overturn the governor's veto by a 2/3 vote of the member_s present in both the House and Senate.


Pass a Resolve
Final passage of a resolve by the House or Senate.
A request describing the nature of the proposed legislation and the objects sought by it, signed by the petitioner, and accompanied by a draft of the bill, order, proposal, resolutions or resolve embodying the legislation proposed.
The name(s) of the person(s) advocating for filed legislation. May include the primary sponsor(s), other legislators and private citizens.
Pocket Veto
A veto resulting from the governor's failure to sign a bill within ten days following prorogation or dissolution of the General Court.
Point of Order
Challenge to a breach of order or rule.
Document accompanying a petition introducing legislative amendments to the Constitution of the Commonwealth.
Termination of a legislative year by agreement of the governor and both legislative bodies.
Public Hearing
A committee meeting during which the public may testify about particular legislative documents before said committee.


Twenty-one members in the Senate, eighty-one members in the House. Quorum is set by the state constitution and by rule. This represents a simple majority of legislative districts for the respective branches and is not altered by the existence of vacancies.


Temporary suspension of a session.
When a legislative document is returned to a committee for additional consideration within a given biennial session.
Motion to reconsider a previous vote on an action previously taken.
Referendum Petition
A petition signed by a specified number of voters to repeal a law enacted by the legislature and requesting that the legislation be suspended until the vote is taken.
A legislative document similar to or exactly the same as one that was presented to the General Court in a previous year.
Refile Number
The bill number assigned to the same or similar legislative document from a previous biennial session.
Report Due Date
The deadline by which a committee must report on a legislative document.
Report of Committee
Recommendation on a legislative matter by the committee to which it was referred.
Document which may or may not accompany a petition, expressing an opinion of the sentiment of one or both branches of the General Court, used for congratulations, for memorializing the Congress of the United States regarding public questions, etc….. Resolutions do not require the governor's signature.
Document proposing policy of a temporary nature, such as a payment from the State Treasury or establishing a study group.
Roll Call Vote
The “Yeas and Nays” votes recorded in the session.
Rules are generally adopted at the beginning of a biennial session, but may be amended, inserted or deleted during a biennial session. There are Senate rules, House rules and Joint rules.


Senate and House Journals
Records of proceedings in each chamber for each legislative day, including matters considered, amendments offered and votes taken.
Session Law
An act or resolve passed during a legislative year.
Special Commission or Special Committee
A special commission or special committee established for a unique purpose, usually tasked with making an investigation and study with a deadline for filing a report.
Special Law
Legislative act applying to a particular county, city, town or district, individual or group of individuals and not general in nature.
Standing Committees
Permanent committees in the Senate and House as well as joint committees. Members and chair appointed at the beginning of each two-year session.
Study Order
A committee recommendation to place a legislative document in a study.
Substitution for an Adverse Report
Procedure by which a committee's adverse report is overturned.


Third Reading
The final reading of a legislative document in the House or Senate after the legislative document has been released from a Committee on Bills in the Third Reading or upon suspension of the rules.
Time Filed
A data field recording the exact time a legislative document was filed with a clerk.
The title of a legislative document.
Transmit to Secretary Of State
Some legislative documents must be referred to the State Secretary to comply with provisions of law before they can be admitted for consideration by the General Court.


Unanimous Consent
This occurs when no member objects to suspension of the rules so that an action, which otherwise would be prohibited, may take place.


Governor's objection in writing to legislation enacted by the General Court. The legislation is returned to its branch of origin. It requires two-thirds affirmative vote in each branch to override a veto.
Voice Vote
Oral expression of the members when a question is submitted for their determination. Response is given by “ayes” and “nays” and the presiding officer states his/her decision as to which side prevails.