While Massachusetts House of Representatives rejected several proposed amendment's to House rules that would've provided more transparency to the public, they did approve an amendment by state Rep. Liz Malia that does address a transparency gap.
Malia's adopted amendment requires the clerk to make all bills on the House docket available on the Legislature's website, which was not the case before the bill. Currently, the text of bills is only posted once proposed bills have been assigned a number and referred to committee.
"Based on my bill filing and co-sponsorship-request experience over the last few weeks, it became clear to me, my staff, my constituency and many advocates that it would be a much easier process if everyone can see the dockets on the MA Legislature’s website, instead of having to ask someone with access to LAWS to look up the docket to learn if a member has or has not signed on as a cosponsor to a legislative petition," said Malia via press release. "It’s a minor, clarifying fix to a distinct issue that I believe will go a long way in helping us ALL work smarter, not harder."
In other House rules, representatives voted against creating term limits for the speaker of the house. Current Speaker Robert DeLeo, D-Winthrop, is the longest serving House speaker in the state's history, and if it had been adopted, the law wouldn't have applied to DeLeo.
State Rep. Jonathan Hecht, D-Watertown, proposed three bills that would've provided more transparency to the public. All three were easily defeated.
According to Boston Globe the three proposals would have:
- Required that any bill being considered during a House session would be available to state reps and the public at least 72 hours before the House takes the bill
- Required House committees to provide redrafted bills to all committee members at least 24 hours before a vote and also require committees to provide all testimony available to state reps and the public
- Required a waiting period of at least 30 minutes before an amendment could be considered for debate after being filed