The Info List - Massachusetts General Court

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The MASSACHUSETTS GENERAL COURT (formally styled the GENERAL COURT OF MASSACHUSETTS) is the state legislature of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts
. The name "General Court" is a hold-over from the earliest days of the Massachusetts
Bay Colony , when the colonial assembly, in addition to making laws, sat as a judicial court of appeals. Before the adoption of the state constitution in 1780, it was called the GREAT AND GENERAL COURT, but the official title was shortened by John Adams
John Adams
, author of the state constitution . It is a bicameral body. The upper house is the Massachusetts Senate which is composed of 40 members. The lower body, the Massachusetts
House of Representatives , has 160 members. (Until 1978, it had 240 members) It meets in the Massachusetts State House on Beacon Hill in Boston

The current President of the Senate is Stan Rosenberg , and the Speaker of the House is Robert DeLeo . Democrats hold super-majorities in both chambers.

State Senators and Representatives both serve two-year terms.


* 1 House of Representatives * 2 Senate * 3 Legislative procedure * 4 See also * 5 References * 6 Further reading * 7 External links


Main article: Massachusetts House of Representatives
Massachusetts House of Representatives

Each Representative represents about 40,000 residents. Representative districts are named for the primary county in which they are located, and tend to stay within one county, although some districts contain portions of adjacent counties. The current composition of the House is 126 Democrats and 34 Republicans.


Main article: Massachusetts Senate

There are 40 senatorial districts in Massachusetts, named for the counties in which they are located. The current composition of the Senate is 34 Democrats and 6 Republicans .


The General Court is responsible for enacting laws in the state. The two legislative branches work concurrently on pending laws brought before them.

Lawmaking begins in the House or Senate Clerk's office where petitions , bills , and resolves are filed and recorded in a docket book. The clerks number the bills and assign them to appropriate joint committees. There are 26 of these committees, each responsible for studying the bills which pertain to a specific area (i.e., taxation , education , health care , insurance , etc.). Each committee is composed of six senators and eleven representatives. The standing committees schedule public hearings for the individual bills, which afford citizens, legislators and lobbyists the opportunity to express their views. Committee members meet at a later time in executive session to review the public testimony and discuss the merits of each bill before making their recommendations to the full membership of the House or Senate. Note that the public may still observe "executive" sessions, but may not participate in these meetings. The committee then issues its report, recommending that a bill "ought to pass" or "ought not to pass" and the report is submitted to the Clerk's office.

The first reading of a favorably reported bill is automatic and occurs when the committee's report appears in the Journal of the House or Senate Clerk. Matters not requiring reference to another Joint, House or Senate committee are, following the first reading, referred without debate to the Committee on Steering and Policy in the Senate (except certain special laws relative to a city or town), or placed in the Orders of the Day (the Calendar) without debate, for a second reading in the House. If a bill affects the finances of the Commonwealth, it is referred to the Senate or House Committee on Ways and Means after the first reading. If it affects county finances, the bill is read and referred to the Committee on Counties of the House (if the matter is reported into the House). Adverse reports ("ought not to pass") are also referred to the Committee on Steering and Policy in the Senate or placed without debate in the Orders of the Day for the next session of the House. Acceptance by either branch of an adverse report is considered the final rejection and the matter of the matter. However, an adverse report can be overturned. A member may move to substitute the bill for the report, and, if the motion to substitute carries, the matter is then given its first reading and follows the same procedure as if reported favorably by comm