SENATE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . No. 11
Senate, February 4, 2021 – Text of the proposed Joint Rules recommended by the Temporary
Committee on Rules to be adopted as the Joint Rules governing the 2021-2022 legislative
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts
In the One Hundred and Ninety-Second General Court
[The dates under each rule indicate when the rule and its amendments were adopted.]
1. Joint standing committees shall be appointed at the beginning of the biennial session as
A committee on Advanced Information Technology, the Internet and Cybersecurity;
A committee on Bonding, Capital Expenditures and State Assets
A committee on Cannabis Policy;
A committee on Children, Families and Persons With Disabilities;
A committee on Community Development and Small Businesses;
A committee on Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure;
A committee on Covid-19 and Emergency Preparedness and Management;
A committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies;
A committee on Education;
A committee on Elder Affairs;
A committee on Election Laws;
A committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture;
A committee on Export Development;
A committee on Financial Services;
A committee on Health Care Financing;
A committee on Higher Education;
A committee on Housing;
A committee on the Judiciary;
A committee on Labor and Workforce Development;
A committee on Mental Health, Substance Use and Recovery;
A committee on Municipalities and Regional Government;
A committee on Public Health;
A committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security;
A committee on Public Service;
A committee on Racial Equity, Civil Rights and Inclusion;
A committee on Revenue;
A committee on State Administration and Regulatory Oversight;
A committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy;
A committee on Tourism, Arts and Cultural Development;
A committee on Transportation; and
A committee on Veterans and Federal Affairs.
Each to consist of 6 members of the Senate, and 11 on the part of the House except the
committees on Bonding, Capital Expenditures and State Assets, Economic Development and
Emerging Technologies, Public Safety and Homeland Security, Mental Health, Substance Use
and Recovery, Health Care Financing and Transportation which shall consist of 7 members of
the Senate and 13 of the House.
Within 4 weeks of the appointment of joint standing committees in the first annual session of the
General Court, each joint standing committee shall adopt rules of procedure regarding its
conduct. Said rules of procedure, together with any amendments, shall be filed with the Clerk of
the Senate and the Clerk of the House and shall be available to the public and members of the
General Court on the official website for the General Court.
Except as provided by Joint Rule 1E or 1F, each matter shall be referred only to 1 joint
committee for consideration and all reports of matters by joint committees shall be made to the
House or the Senate, under Joint Rule 4, not to another joint committee. The committee to which
a matter is initially referred may discharge the matter to another committee with jurisdiction over
the matter.
Matters referred by either the Senate or the House to its committee on Ways and Means shall be
considered by the respective committees of the 2 branches, acting as a joint committee, when, in
the judgment of the chairs of the respective committees of the 2 branches, the interests of
legislation or the expedition of business will be better served by such joint consideration. Matters
may also be referred to the committees on Ways and Means, of the 2 branches, as a joint
The committees on Rules, together with the presiding officers of the 2 branches, acting
concurrently, may consider and suggest such measures as shall, in their judgment, tend to
facilitate the business of the session and a majority vote of the 2 branches shall be required to
approve such recommendations.
In order to assist the House and the Senate in their: (1) consideration and enactment of new
legislation and modifications of existing laws, when either are deemed to be appropriate; (2)
evaluation of the effectiveness and administration of laws and programs previously enacted; and
(3) appraisal of the conditions and circumstances which may indicate the desirability of enacting
new legislation, the various joint committees shall have the following oversight responsibilities:
(i) each joint committee shall review and study, on a continuing basis, the implementation,
administration, execution and effectiveness of those laws, or parts of law, the subject matter of
which is within the jurisdiction of that committee, the administrative regulations adopted to
implement those laws, and those state agencies or entities having responsibilities for the
administration and execution of such laws;
(ii) in carrying out these review and study activities, each committee shall determine whether
such laws, administrative regulations and programs under those laws are being implemented in
accordance with the intent of the General Court and whether such laws, administrative
regulations and programs should be continued, curtailed or eliminated;
(iii) each committee shall also review and study any conditions and circumstances which may
indicate the necessity or desirability of enacting new legislation within the jurisdiction of that
committee, regardless of whether any matter has been introduced on that subject, and shall, on a
continuing basis, undertake research on matters within the jurisdiction of that committee.
Committees shall coordinate oversight activities, under the direction of the presiding officers of
both branches, to achieve the maximum objectives of clauses (i), (ii) and (iii).
Each committee may, upon completion of its oversight hearings, report to the General Court the
results of its findings and recommendations together with accompanying corrective legislation, if
any, by filing the same with the Clerk of the House of Representatives or the Clerk of the Senate.
Copies of such reports shall be, whenever practicable, made available to all members
electronically and to the public via the Internet. The disposition of said reports shall be
determined by the Clerks with the approval of the Speaker and the President.
The Senate and House chairs of a joint committee may appoint subcommittees to investigate and
study any matter referred to said subcommittee. Any subcommittee so established shall be co-
chaired by a majority member of the Senate and a majority member of the House who are
members of the joint standing committee appointing the subcommittee. The composition of the
subcommittee shall be proportional to the composition of the appointing joint committee;
provided, however, that not less than 10 per cent of the subcommittee’s members shall be from
the minority party. Chairs of subcommittees shall not be considered chairs under section 9B of
chapter 3 of the General Laws. A subcommittee may, upon completion of an investigation and
study, report the results of the investigation and study together with legislation, if any, by filing
the same with the Senate and House chairs of the appointing joint committee.
Temporary employees of the general court assigned to a joint committee who are students at an
accredited education institution or employees or grantees of other non-profit organizations under
section 501 (c) (3) of the Internal Revenue Code may receive compensation from such
organization, according to that organization's regular program of providing such compensation
for temporary governmental or public service employment. A temporary employee's Senate or
House supervisor shall establish the employee's total compensation, shall verify that the sum of
the employee's state compensation, if any, and that any outside compensation the employee is to
receive under this rule would not exceed this total compensation, and shall file the written terms
of the employee's compensation with the Senate or House Human Resources Office, where it
shall be available for public inspection. The temporary employee shall sign a confidentiality and
ethics agreement provided by the Senate or House Human Resources Office.
The Senate and House Offices of Human Resources shall publish an employee handbook for
joint employees of both branches of the general court. The handbook shall be developed with
the advice and approval of both the Counsel to the Senate and the Counsel to the House. The
handbook shall address access by joint employees to the human resource related services and
programs of each branch of the general court. Joint employees shall complete any training
required by either branch of the general court, as may be agreed upon by the Senate and House
Offices of Human Resources.
[Amended Jan. 6, 18 82; Jan. 5, 18 83; Jan. 7, 18 84; Jan. 8 and 26, 1885; Jan. 8, 18 86; Jan. 12,
18 87; Jan. 9, 18 88; Jan. 28, 18 89; Jan. 8, 18 90; Feb. 2, 18 91; Jan. 11 and Feb. 10, 18 92; Feb.
7, 18 93; Jan. 8. 1894; Jan. 7, 18 95; Jan. 7, 18 96; Jan. 11, 18 97; Jan. 10, 18 98; Jan. 9, 18 99;
Jan. 22 and 29, 1901; Jan. 6, 19 02; Jan. 9, 19 03; Jan. 8, 19 04; Jan. 6, 19 05; Jan. 4, 19 07; Jan.
5, 19 10; Jan. 4, 19 11; Jan. 1, 19 13; Jan. 12, 19 14; Jan. 2, 19 18; Jan. 1 and 8 and Feb. 21,
1919; Jan. 7, 19 20; Jan. 5, 19 21; April 17 and 30, 1925; Jan. 5, 19 27; Jan. 7, 19 31; Jan. 6, 19
37; Jan. 4, 19 39; Jan. 1, 19 41; Jan. 3, 19 45; Jan. 2, 19 46; Jan. 6, 19 47; Feb. 1, 19 49; Jan. 7,
19 53; Jan. 7, 19 59; Jan. 30, 19 61; Jan. 7, 19 63; Jan. 12, 19 65; Feb. 24, 19 65; Mar. 10, 19 66;
Jan. 30, 19 67; Jan. 7, 1971 ; July 23, 1974 ; Sept. 30 and Oct. 12, 1976 ; Nov. 3, 1981 ; Dec. 21,
1981 ; Mar. 15, 1982 ; Oct. 3, 1983 ; June 3, 1985 ; Jan. 25 and Mar. 14, 1988 ; Mar. 27, 1995 ,
June 12, 1995 ; July 17, 2003 ; Jan. 26, 2005; July 21 and September 20, 2005; Feb. 20, 2007;
Feb 12, 2009; Feb. 15, 2017; Mar 7, 2019.]
1A. All meetings of joint committees acting concurrently, Senate and House standing
committees, special committees of the Senate and House of Representatives, and joint special
committees and committees of conference on the disagreeing votes of the 2 branches shall be
open to the public, unless a majority shall vote otherwise. [Adopted July 17, 1973. Amended
July 18, 1974; Feb. 12, 2009.]
1B. A joint standing committee shall hold a public hearing on each matter referred to it in each
legislative session. [Adopted June 3, 1985; Amended Feb. 12, 2009.]
1C. All joint standing committees shall schedule committee hearings, polls, and executive
sessions upon agreement of the chairs and so as not to conflict, to the extent feasible, with the
schedules of other committees and, to the extent feasible, the day of the week and times during
that day set aside for formal sessions by the respective branches from the first Wednesday in
January through the fourth Wednesday of April in the first annual session. [Adopted June 3,
1985; Amended June 12, 1995; Mar. 7, 2019.]
1D. All meetings of joint standing committees, and special joint committees of the Senate and
House of Representatives, shall be open to the public, and any person shall be permitted to attend
any such meeting unless such committee convenes in executive session, as provided herein. All
joint standing committees shall determine a schedule for committee hearings to be held from the
beginning of the first annual session through the fourth Wednesday in June in said session. These
committee schedules shall be submitted to the Clerk of the House who shall cause them to be
published on the official website for the General Court. Establishment of such schedules shall
not preclude joint standing committees from scheduling additional hearings or meetings as
needed. No executive session shall be held except upon extraordinary circumstances and only
after the committee has first convened in an open session for which notice has been given, the
presiding officer has stated the purpose of the executive session, a majority of the committee
members present has voted to go into executive session, the vote of each member has been
recorded on a roll call vote, and the presiding officer has stated before the executive session if
the committee will reconvene after the executive session. The records of all such roll calls shall
be kept in the offices of the committee for the duration of the General Court during which said
vote was recorded, and shall be available for public inspection upon reasonable notice and during
regular office hours.
Committees shall provide to members of the committee either the text or comprehensive
summaries of the bills or other forms of legislative matters prior to the beginning of an executive
session or poll. Any recorded votes on a favorable or adverse report on an individual bill, taken
by roll call or electronic poll of each member, shall be posted on the website of the General
Court. All joint standing committees, and special joint committees of the Senate and House of
Representatives, shall notify the Sergeant-at-Arms of the time, place and agenda of all public
hearings and executive sessions not less than 72 hours prior to the time of such meetings. If
public testimony is being solicited, agendas shall include an electronic mail address and physical
mail address for the submission of testimony and shall inform the public that testimony received
may be made publicly available. The Sergeant-at-Arms shall notify the clerk, who shall inform
all members electronically and publish such information on the official website of the General
Court whenever practicable.
Any such public testimony received by the committee that is readily capable of being reproduced
shall be made available to the public upon request; provided, however, that the committee may
redact such public testimony that includes sensitive personal information or information that may
jeopardize the health, wellness or safety of an individual. If expert testimony is being solicited
by the committee, the committee shall make reasonable efforts to promote the diversity of expert
witness panels.
Nothing contained in this rule shall prohibit a joint standing committee or special joint
committee of the Senate and the House of Representatives from taking appropriate action
including, but not limited to, the exclusion of a person from a committee meeting in order to
prevent the disruption of or interference with committee proceedings. All meetings of joint
standing committees, and special joint committees of the Senate and House of Representatives,
shall be limited to no more than 50 bills to be discussed in a hearing, unless it can be determined
that all of the bills being considered are of the same subject matter.
The 72 hour requirement shall be suspended in an emergency only after all reasonable efforts
have been made to contact all committee members and upon a recorded vote of at least a
majority of the members of each branch appointed to the committee, but not less than two-thirds
of the members of each branch voting.
A meeting of a committee may be recorded by a person in attendance by means of a recorder or
any other means of audio/visual reproduction except when a meeting is held in executive session;
provided, that a person seeking to record a meeting of a committee notifies the Chairs 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.
The Chairs of each committee shall preserve decorum and order during each committee hearing.
Persons attending hearings shall be required to refrain from the use of cellular telephones,
beepers and pagers. The use of visual aids including, without limitation, posters, displays, or
charts shall be permitted only upon approval of the Chairs. [Adopted June 3, 1985. Amended
June 12, 1995; Feb. 20, 2007; Mar. 14, 2013; Mar. 7, 2019.]
1E. The joint standing committee on Health Care Financing shall review all legislation relating
to health care to evaluate the appropriateness and fiscal effect of such legislation. A matter
within the jurisdiction of said committee may, if appropriate, initially be referred to another joint
standing committee sharing jurisdiction of the subject-matter. Any matter reported favorably by
such joint standing committee shall be referred to the joint committee on Health Care Financing;
provided, however, that notwithstanding any rule to the contrary, any such matter so reported
shall not be read a first time in the branch in which the report was received. The next favorable
report on any such matter, if made by a joint committee, may be made to either branch. Such
next favorable report shall be considered the first reading. The branch of origin for any such bill
so reported shall be the branch receiving such favorable report.
For all matters initially referred to the joint committee on Health Care Financing and not
previously referred to another joint committee, the joint committee on Health Care Financing
may make favorable reports to either branch, at the discretion of the committee, except that
reports on money bills shall be made to the House.
In compliance with section 38A of chapter 3 of the General Laws, the joint committee on Health
Care Financing when reporting on bills shall include a fiscal note prepared under section 3A of
chapter 29 of the General Laws, showing the estimated cost or the fiscal effect of the proposed
legislation, if, in the opinion of said committee, such cost or fiscal effect exceeds the sum of
$100,000; provided, however, that any matter reported by the committee on Health Care
Financing with a fiscal effect of less than $100,000 shall not be referred, under the rules, to the