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The Massachusetts
Massachusetts
General Court (formally styled the General Court of Massachusetts)[3] is the state legislature of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The name "General Court" is a hold-over from the earliest days of the Massachusetts
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, author of the state constitution. It is a bicameral body. The upper house is the Massachusetts Senate
Massachusetts Senate
which is composed of 40 members. The lower body, the Massachusetts
Massachusetts
House of Representatives, has 160 members. (Until 1978, it had 240 members.[4] It meets in the Massachusetts State House
Massachusetts State House
on Beacon Hill in Boston. The current President of the Senate is Harriette L. Chandler, and the Speaker of the House is Robert DeLeo. Since 1959, Democrats have controlled both houses of the Massachusetts
Massachusetts
General Court, often by large majorities.[5][6] The Democrats enjoyed veto-proof super-majorities in both chambers for part of the 1990s (i.e., enough votes to override vetoes by a governor)[5] and also presently hold supermajorities in both chambers.[7] State Senators and Representatives both serve two-year terms.[8] There are no term limits; a term limit was enacted by initiative in Massachusetts
Massachusetts
in 1994, but in 1997 this was struck down by the Massachusetts
Massachusetts
Supreme Judicial Court, which ruled that it was an unconstitutional attempt to provide additional qualifications for office by statute, rather than constitutional amendment.[9][10] The legislature is a full-time legislature, although not to the extent of neighboring New York or some other states.[11]

Contents

1 House of Representatives 2 Senate 3 Legislative procedure 4 State House News Service 5 References 6 Further reading 7 See also 8 External links

House of Representatives[edit] Main article: Massachusetts
Massachusetts
House of Representatives Each Representative represents about 41,000 residents.[12] The speaker of the House has historically been quite powerful, exerting significant influence over all aspects of state government.[13][14] 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 121 Democrats, 34 Republicans and 2 Independent. Senate[edit] Main article: Massachusetts
Massachusetts
Senate There are 40 senatorial districts in Massachusetts, named for the counties in which they are located. Each state Senate district contains about 164,000 constituents.[12] The current composition of the Senate is 32 Democrats and 7 Republicans. Legislative procedure[edit] The General Court is responsible for enacting laws in the state. The two legislative branches work concurrently on pending laws brought before them.[15] Lawmaking begins when legislators, or their delegates, file petitions accompanied by bills, resolves or other types of legislation electronically, using the Legislative Automated Workflow System (LAWS). The electronically submitted legislation is received in the House or Senate Clerk's office where the petitions, bills, and resolves are recorded in an electronic 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.). Generally, 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 generally occurs when the committee's report appears in the Journal of the House or Senate. Matters not requiring reference to another Joint, House or Senate committee are, following the first reading, referred without debate to the Committee on Senate Rules if reported in the Senate, except certain special laws (relative to a city or town) are placed directly on the Senate Calendar (Orders of the Day), or, without debate to the House Steering, Policy and Scheduling committee if reported into the House. Reports from Senate Rules or House Steering, Policy and Scheduling are placed on the Calender of the Chamber receiving the report for a second reading. If a bill reported favorably by a joint committee affects health care it is referred by the House or Senate Clerk to the joint committee on Health Care Financing; and the first reading is delayed until the next favorable report, thus allowing Health Care Financing to report to either the House or Senate. The Health Care Financing Committee is required to provide an estimated cost of the bill, when making their report. If the estimated cost is less than $100,000, the bill bypasses having to be referred to Ways and Means. If a bill is not related to health care, but affects the finances of the Commonwealth, or, if it is reported by the Health Care Financing Committee with an estimated cost greater than $100,000, it is referred to the Senate or House Committee on Ways and Means after the first reading. 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 committee.

The Massachusetts
Massachusetts
State House, which houses the General Court and Governor's Office.

After a bill takes its second reading, it is open to debate on amendments and motions. Following debate, a vote is taken and if the bill receives a favorable vote by the membership, it is ordered to a third reading and referred to the Committee on Bills in the Third Reading. This amounts to preliminary approval of the bill in that branch. That committee examines technical points, as well as the legality and constitutionality of the measure, and ensures that it does not duplicate or contradict existing law. The committee then issues a report and returns the bill to the House or Senate for its third reading. At that time, legislators can further debate and amend the bill. Following the third reading, the body votes on "passing the bill to be engrossed." The bill must then pass through three readings and engrossment in the second legislative branch. Should that occur, it is sent to the Legislative Engrossing Division where it is typed on special parchment in accordance with the General Laws. However, if the second branch passes an amended version of the bill, the legislation returns to the original branch for a vote of concurrence in the amendment. If concurrence is rejected, a conference committee consisting of the three members from each legislative branch representing both political parties may be formed to effect a compromise piece of legislation. When a compromise is reached, the bill is sent to both legislative branches for their approval. A vote "to enact" the bill, first in the House and later in the Senate, is the final step in the passage of a bill by the legislature. Following enactment, the bill goes to the governor, who may sign the bill into law, allow it to become law without signing it (if the governor holds the bill for ten days without taking any action while the legislature is in session, it becomes law without his or her signature), veto it, or return it to the legislature with recommended changes. If the legislature has concluded its yearly session, and the governor does not sign the bill within ten days, it dies. This is referred to as a "pocket veto." This ten-day period includes Sundays and holidays, even if they fall on the tenth day, and it begins the day after the legislation is laid on the governor's desk. A bill signed by the governor, or passed by two-thirds of both branches over his veto, becomes a law. It is usually effective in ninety days. The day after the governor signs the bill is considered to be the first day, and each succeeding day, including Sundays and holidays is counted until the ninetieth. Laws considered "emergency" in nature take effect immediately upon signing if the legislature has voted to attach an "emergency preamble" to the bill. Adoption of the preamble requires a two-thirds standing vote of the membership. The governor may also declare an act to be an emergency law and make it effective at once. A special act takes effect thirty days from the day it is signed, unless it contains a provision to make it effective immediately. State House News Service[edit] The State House News Service is an independent privately-owned, wire service based in the Massachusetts State House
Massachusetts State House
that provides comprehensive coverage of the Commonwealth's government.[16] References[edit]

^ "Senate Members".  ^ "House Members".  ^ Constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. See Chapter I, Section I, Art.I ^ John A. Hird, Power, Knowledge, and Politics: Policy Analysis in the States (Georgetown University Press, 2005), p. 93. ^ a b Robert B. Hackey, Rethinking Health Care Policy: The New Politics of State Regulation (Georgetown University Press, 1998), p. 123. ^ John Hudak, Presidential Pork: White House Influence over the Distribution of Federal Grants (Brookings Institution Press, 2014), p. 202 ("Democrats frequently control a supermajority of both houses of the state legislature in Massachusetts"). ^ Jonathan Cohn, Democratic supermajority not so super: Lawmakers from same party but not on same platform, Commonweal (May 27, 2017). ^ Constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Article LXXXII. ^ Jennie Drage Bowser & Gary Moncrief, "Term Limits in State Legislatures" in Institutional Change in American Politics: The Case of Term Limits (eds. Karl T. Kurtz, Bruce E. Cain & Richard G. Niemi) (University of Michigan Press, 2007), p. 11. ^ Sara Rimer, Top Massachusetts
Massachusetts
Court Overturns Term Limits, New York Times (July 12, 1997). ^ Full- and Part-Time Legislatures, National Conference of State Legislatures (June 14, 2017). ^ a b 2010 Constituents Per State Legislative District Table, National Conference of State Legislatures. ^ [A tale of 3 Speakers - Salvatore DiMasi, Thomas Finneran and Charles Flaherty: Is lure of power too tempting?], Associated Press (July 4, 2011). ^ Fox Butterfield, MASSACHUSETTS LEGISLATORS BALK AT LEADERS' POWER, New York Times (December 10, 1983). ^ "How an Idea Become a Law". Malegislature.gov. Archived from the original on 2012-05-24. Retrieved 2014-05-13.  ^ State House News Service

Further reading[edit]

Noah Bierman. "Legislators’ vital work veiled from public’s eye". The Boston
Boston
Globe, July 8, 2011.

See also[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Massachusetts
Massachusetts
General Court.

Massachusetts
Massachusetts
State House Massachusetts
Massachusetts
House of Representatives Massachusetts
Massachusetts
Senate Massachusetts
Massachusetts
Capitol Police Massachusetts
Massachusetts
Supreme Judicial Court Timeline of Massachusetts List of General Court sessions of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts American Legislative Exchange Council members

External links[edit]

General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Live and Archived webcasts of Massachusetts Senate
Massachusetts Senate
and House of Representatives Full Formal Sessions Works by Massachusetts
Massachusetts
General Court at Project Gutenberg Works by or about Massachusetts
Massachusetts
General Court at Internet Archive Massachusetts
Massachusetts
General Court at Ballotpedia VoteSmart - Massachusetts

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Government of Massachusetts

Legislative

General Court Senate (Members, President) House of Representatives (Members, Speaker)

Executive

Governor (List) Lt. Governor Attorney General Auditor Secretary of the Commonwealth Treasurer and Receiver-General Office for Administration and Finance Office of Education Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs Office of Health and Human Services Office of Housing and Economic Development Office of Labor and Workforce Development Office of Public Safety and Security Department of Transportation

Judicial

Boston
Boston
Municipal Court District Court Superior Court Land Court Juvenile Court Housing Court Massachusetts
Massachusetts
Probate and Family Court Appeals Court (Judges) Supreme Judicial Court Dedham District Court

Independent agencies

Board of Library Commissioners Commission Against Discrimination Commission on the Status of Women Disabled Persons Protection Commission Massachusetts
Massachusetts
Appellate Tax Board Massachusetts
Massachusetts
District Attorneys Massachusetts
Massachusetts
Inspector General Office of Campaign and Political Finance Office of the Comptroller Massachusetts
Massachusetts
Sheriffs State Ethics Commission

Law

Constitution General Laws Code of Massachusetts
Massachusetts
Regulations Alcohol Cannabis Capital punishment Crime Elder law Gun laws LGBT rights Taxation

Articles Related to the Massachusetts
Massachusetts
General Court

v t e

Legislatures of the United States

United States Congress

United States House of Representatives United States Senate

State legislatures

Alabama (H, S) Alaska (H, S) Arizona (H, S) Arkansas (H, S) California (A, S) Colorado (H, S) Connecticut (H, S) Delaware (H, S) Florida (H, S) Georgia (H, S) Hawaii (H, S) Idaho (H, S) Illinois (H, S) Indiana (H, S) Iowa (H, S) Kansas (H, S) Kentucky (H, S) Louisiana (H, S) Maine (H, S) Maryland (H, S) Massachusetts
Massachusetts
(H, S) Michigan (H, S) Minnesota (H, S) Mississippi (H, S) Missouri (H, S) Montana (H, S) Nebraska Nevada (A, S) New Hampshire (H, S) New Jersey (GA, S) New Mexico (H, S) New York (A, S) North Carolina (H, S) North Dakota (H, S) Ohio (H, S) Oklahoma (H, S) Oregon (H, S) Pennsylvania (H, S) Rhode Island (H, S) South Carolina (H, S) South Dakota (H, S) Tennessee (H, S) Texas (H, S) Utah (H, S) Vermont (H, S) Virginia (H, S) Washington (H, S) West Virginia (H, S) Wisconsin (A, S) Wyoming (H, S)

Other legislatures

District of Columbia American Samoa (H, S) Guam Northern Mariana Islands (H, S) Puerto Rico (H, S) U.S. Virgin Islands

List of current U.S. state legislators

v t e

Districts of the Massachusetts
Massachusetts
General Court

Senate

Berkshire, Hampshire, Franklin, and Hampden Bristol and Norfolk Bristol and Plymouth: 1st, 2nd Cape and Islands Essex: 1st, 2nd, 3rd Essex and Middlesex: 1st, 2nd Hampden Hampden and Hampshire: 1st, 2nd Hampshire, Franklin and Worcester Middlesex: 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th Middlesex and Norfolk: 1st, 2nd Middlesex and Suffolk Middlesex and Worcester Norfolk, Bristol and Middlesex Norfolk, Bristol and Plymouth Norfolk and Plymouth Norfolk and Suffolk Plymouth and Barnstable Plymouth and Bristol: 1st, 2nd Plymouth and Norfolk Suffolk: 1st, 2nd Suffolk and Middlesex: 1st, 2nd Worcester: 1st, 2nd Worcester, Hampden, Hampshire and Middlesex Worcester and Middlesex Worcester and Norfolk Obsolete: Berkshire, Hampshire and Franklin, 3rd, Hampshire and Franklin, Middlesex and Essex, Middlesex, Suffolk and Essex, Suffolk and Norfolk, Worcester, Hampden, Hampshire and Franklin

House

Barnstable: 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th Barnstable, Dukes and Nantucket Berkshire: 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th Bristol: 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, 13th, 14th Essex: 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, 13th, 14th, 15th, 16th, 17th, 18th Franklin: 1st, 2nd Hampden: 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th Hampshire: 1st, 2nd, 3rd Middlesex: 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, 13th, 14th, 15th, 16th, 17th, 18th, 19th, 20th, 21st, 22nd, 23rd, 24th, 25th, 26th, 27th, 28th, 29th, 10th, 31st, 32nd, 33rd, 34th, 35th, 36th, 37th Norfolk: 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, 13th, 14th, 15th Plymouth: 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th Suffolk: 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, 13th, 14th, 15th, 16th, 17th, 18th, 19th Worcester: 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, 13th, 14th, 15th, 16th, 17th, 18th

v t e

Years in Massachusetts
Massachusetts
(1788–present)

Pre-1788 1788 1789 1790 1791 1792 1793 1794 1795 1796 1797 1798 1799 1800

1801 1802 1803 1804 1805 1806 1807 1808 1809 1810 1811 1812 1813 1814 1815 1816 1817 1818 1819 1820 1821 1822 1823 1824 1825 1826 1827 1828 1829 1830 1831 1832 1833 1834 1835 1836 1837 1838 1839 1840 1841 1842 1843 1844 1845 1846 1847 1848 1849 1850 1851 1852 1853 1854 1855 1856 1857 1858 1859 1860 1861 1862 1863 1864 1865 1866 1867 1868 1869 1870 1871 1872 1873 1874 1875 1876 1877 1878 1879 1880 1881 1882 1883 1884 1885 1886 1887 1888 1889 1890 1891 1892 1893 1894 1895 1896 1897 1898 1899 1900

1901 1902 1903 1904 1905 1906 1907 1908 1909 1910 1911 1912 1913 1914 1915 1916 1917 1918 1919 1920 1921 1922 1923 1924 1925 1926 1927 1928 1929 1930 1931 1932 1933 1934 1935 1936 1937 1938 1939 1940 1941 1942 1943 1944 1945 1946 1947 1948 1949 1950 1951 1952 1953 1954 1955 1956 1957 1958 1959 1960 1961 1962 1963 1964 1965 1966 1967 1968 1969 1970 1971 1972 1973 1974 1975 1976 1977 1978 1979 1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000

2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021

Authority control

WorldCat Identities VIAF: 141880567 LCCN: n79055635 ISNI: 0000 0001 0806

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