overview of the
Massachusetts state house process
- Each legislative session is 2 years long – January of an odd year to July of the following year (i.e. Jan 2019- July 2020)
- A bill is filed (or refiled) in the House/Senate by a sponsor. Any additional supporters are co-sponsors.
- About 6,500 bills are filed each session
- Each bill is assigned to a committee and by law each bill must have a public hearing
- Committee hearings feature many bills; they can be several hours long
- Legislators, advocates and other stakeholders provide written or oral testimony.
- After the hearing, the committee votes on how to support the bill.
ways & means
- Any bill that impacts state finance comes to the Ways & Means Committee
- The committee may hold a second hearing, make amendments to the bill, combine it with other bills, or do nothing.
- The committee votes on how to support the bill and reports out
- A bill is sent to the floor; it may be debated and amended before a vote
- If the bill is approved, it moves on to the next branch to repeat the process
Once a bill passes in one house, it goes through the same steps in the other chamber!
- A bill has been passed in both houses
- It is common for both the House and Senate to pass differentversions of the same legislation. The Conference Committee is formed to agree on one version.
- Three members from each branch are appointed by leadership to serve on the Conference Committee
- When a final version is reached, it is returned to each branch to vote on without any changes.