Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Senate Succession Bill Could Be Unconstitutional

The U.S. Senate Interim Appointment bill (H. 4246) passed today by the Senate and earlier in the week by the House contains an emergency preamble which would cause it to take effect immediately (as opposed to the usual 90 days required before every bill takes effect). Article 48 of the Massachusetts Constitution provides that any bill containing an emergency preamble must be approved by a 2/3 vote of the House and the Senate.

Since the vote in the Senate to pass the bill was 24-16 and the vote to pass the bill in the House was 95-58 the requirement of a 2/3 vote has not been met. Absent a change in the numbers of votes when the House and Senate take up the bill tomorrow, it will not be able to move forward with an emergency preamble.

Should the bill be approved without an emergency preamble, it would take effect 90 days after the date of its passage.