Rules Debate

As a new session begins, lawmakers meet to decide on the rules for the next session.

The Massachusetts legislature has a reputation for hiding its work behind closed doors. We wonder, what’s the big secret? They’re ignoring technological advances that could mean an informed public, and manipulating outcomes by fast-tracking complicated legislation. Updating the rules could change that reputation, and better lawmaking would be the result.

Increasing transparency and accountability on Beacon Hill is a key part of MassFiscal's mission, to that end, please join us in calling for more transparency in the statehouse and complete our Call to Action that highlights our top 3 reforms for the Rules debate. CLICK HERE to get started.

For more reform ideas, please see below:

  • Make all votes available to the public and online. Currently, joint committee votes are not available online, the legislature should post them online and in real-time.
  • The legislature should broadcast all committee hearings and Senate and House informal sessions on the Legislature’s website
  • Allow the public and lawmakers at least 24 hours to review a bill before they are expected to vote on it. It is paramount to read what’s in a bill before it’s debated and to that end, the legislature should require a minimum of 24 hour review time of bills being considered by joint committee members before a vote.
  • Issue a joint resolution on the minimum amount of aid to cities and town no later than March 31 of each year.
  • Consider no bill in informal session unless it has been posted on the Legislature’s website at least 24 hours in advance and has received a public hearing or discharge vote by its committee of jurisdiction.
  • Conclude no committee executive session or poll if a member has requested the text of a legislative matter being taken up, and had not yet been provided the text.
  • Provide members of joint committees with the text of bills before the beginning of an executive session or poll. 
  • Require that a conference committee report be filed at 5 p.m. (with text available on the legislature’s website) for the report to be considered the next day.

Support Our Work Join Our Email List Visit our Scorecard


get updates