THE REVERE ADVOCATE - Friday, February 8, 2019 Page 17 BEACON | from page 16 formal sessions of the House and Senate in the same manner and format as formal sessions are currently broadcast. Currently informal sessions are not broadcast. Informal sessions are ones in which there are no roll call votes and everything is approved or rejected on an unrecorded voice vote. However, at an informal session, a single legislator can hold up consideration of a bill until the next formal session by doubting the presence of a quorum. A quorum is when 81 members of the House or 21 members of the Senate are present. Since only a handful of legislators attend these sessions, the session would be adjourned for lack of a quorum. Supporters said that some informal sessions are not the brief, quiet sessions that they used to be. They said major legislation is sometimes approved at informal sessions and the public should be able to watch these online. (A “Yes” vote is for the study.) Sen. Joseph Boncore Yes CONFERENCE COMMITTEE REPORTS BY 5 P.M. (S 9) Senate 8-31, rejected a proposed new joint rule requiring that legislators receive a copy of any conference committee version of a bill by 5 p.m. on the day prior to voting on the bill. Current rules set the deadline at 8 p.m. Both rules prohibit the Legislature from voting on the bill prior to 1 p.m. the following day. Supporters of the new rule said the 8 p.m. deadline gives members only 17 hours to read and understand what are often long and complicated bills. They argued the 5 p.m. deadline would give legislators three more hours to read the measure. Opponents of the new rule said the 8 p.m. deadline has worked well for several years. They noted the extra three hours between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. is often when the staff completes the package of the report. (A “Yes” vote is for the 5 p.m. deadline. A “No” vote is against the 5 p.m. deadline and favors the current 8 p.m. one.) Sen. Joseph Boncore No MATTERS ALLOWED AT INFORMAL SESSIONS (S 8) Senate 6-33, rejected a rule that would prohibit tax hikes from being considered at an informal session of the Senate. Informal sessions are ones in which there can be no roll call votes and everything is approved or rejected on an unrecorded voice vote. Supporters of the rule said it is unfair to allow tax hikes to be brought up at these lightly attended sessions often without informing members of the agenda. Opponents said the rule is unnecessary because any single member who shows up at a lightly attended informal session can doubt the presence of a quorum, and at which point the session would end because there is not a quorum. (A “Yes” vote is for prohibiting tax hikes from being brought up at informal sessions. A “No” vote is against the restriction.) Sen. Joseph Boncore No SESSIONS BEYOND MIDNIGHT (S 8) Senate 6-33, rejected a rule requiring a unanimous vote in order for any Senate session to continue beyond midnight. Current law requires a twothirds vote to go past midnight. Supporters said requiring unanimous consent will virtually put an end to post-midnight sessions. They argued it is unnecessary and irresponsible to work while legislators are exhausted and taxpayers are asleep. Opponents said the rule is undemocratic and will allow one legislator to end Senate debate and action. (A “Yes” vote is for requiring a unanimous vote to continue beyond midnight. A “No” vote is against requiring it.) Sen. Joseph Boncore No HARASSMENT PREVENTION TRAINING FOR REPRESENTATIVES State representatives of both parties attended a mandatory harassment training session last week. The session lasted slightly under an hour and went over the policy and procedures in place to address sexual harassment issues and allegations. It also outlined the resources available to an aggrieved party. “It was a helpful and informative introductory session to the new policies and procedures in place to deal with the variety of issues that sexual harassment presents,” said House Republican Minority Leader Brad Jones (R-North Reading.)“It will be the fi rst of many such training/educational sessions with future off erings designed to cover the entire legislative staff .” HOW LONG WAS LAST WEEK’S SESSION? Beacon Hill Roll Call tracks the length of time that the House and Senate were in session each week. Many legislators say that legislative sessions are only one aspect of the Legislature’s job and that a lot of important work is done outside of the House and Senate chambers. They note that their jobs also involve committee work, research, constituent work and other matters that are important to their districts. Critics say that the Legislature does not meet regularly or long enough to debate and vote in public view on the thousands of pieces of legislation that have been fi led. They note that the infrequency and brief length of sessions are misguided and lead to irresponsible late-night sessions and a mad rush to act on dozens of bills in the days immediately preceding the end of an annual session. During the week of January 28-February 1, the House met for a total of nine hours and 12 minutes while the Senate met for a total of four hours and 31 minutes. MON. JANUARY 28 House11:02 a.m. to11:06 a.m Senate 11:05 a.m. to11 09 a.m. TUES. JANUARY 29 No House session No Senate session WED. JANUARY 30 House11:01 a.m. to 8:05 p.m. No Senate session THURS. JANUARY 31 House11:04 a.m. to11:08 a.m. Senate 11:18 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. FRI. FEBRUARY 1 No House session No Senate session Bob Katzen welcomes feedback at bob@beaconhillrollcall.com

18 Publizr Home

You need flash player to view this online publication