Thursday, March 14, 2013

Today I released the following press release regarding the passage of the Legislature’s Joint Rules:

New Rules Move Forward, Fall Short of Needed Change

Senate Republicans Vow to Continue to Seek Transparency in State Government

Boston- While the rules adopted today by the House and Senate to govern the legislative session contain some important changes, the legislature has missed some major opportunities to increase transparency and accountability according to Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester).

A debate that began in the House of Representatives on January 23 and continued in the Senate on January 31, culminated today with acceptance of Joint Rules by each legislative branch.  Among many possible changes to open the legislative process to greater exposure and scrutiny, only two were ultimately adopted.  They include:

  • Limiting all committee hearings to hear no more than 50 bills sponsored by Senator Timilty and supported by the members of the Senate Republican Caucus; and,
  • Providing all local petitions before the General Court to be valid for a two-year period sponsored by the members of the Senate Republican Caucus.
Yet other significant changes have been lost in the legislative process.  Key republican initiatives adopted in the Senate’s debate on the Joint Rules were:

  • Requiring the House and Senate Clerks to post online all roll call votes within 48 hours after being made; and,
  • Posting of all roll call votes taken in joint committees. 
“Putting committee and legislative votes on the internet for people to view them should be a routine exercise, and yet today we failed to approve giving people the information they deserve about our legislative process and decisions,” said Tarr.  He added that “the strong gains made by Senate Republicans and the Senate as a body have been eroded by the process that followed.  While an opportunity has been lost today, the Senate Republican Caucus will continue to seek transparency in state government.”