The Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education

Legislative Update — 189th Session of the General Court

Members of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education
Mitchell D. Chester, Ed.D., Commissioner
February 13, 2015

The 189th Session of the General Court (the Massachusetts Legislature) began on January 7, 2015. Generally, a two-year legislative session follows the same pattern as past sessions based upon statutory deadlines. In past sessions, committee chairs were appointed in late January or early February. Although Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz has been appointed Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Education already this session, the House Chair has not yet been appointed.

Most bills relating to the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education will be assigned to the Joint Committee on Education. Last year, 312 bills were assigned to that committee. Our staff will monitor all pertinent bills and provide regular updates.

Although the Governor can file a bill at any time during a session, this session's bill filing deadline was January 16, 2015 for legislators and citizens. According to the House and Senate clerks, 5,333 bills in all were filed before the deadline for this session. House lawmakers filed 3,450 bills and Senate members filed 1,883 bills. Most of these bills will likely die in committee. More than half are bills that have been re-filed after failing to win passage in the 2013-2014 legislative session.

Bills are first assigned docket numbers when filed and later receive bill numbers. They are then assigned by clerks to legislative committees for public hearings and review. Most proposals for the two-year session are submitted by the deadline but others will be filed late, sometimes in response to a public policy crisis.

Every timely-filed bill (by deadline) must have a public hearing. Bill hearings begin about a month after Chair appointments and run until March of the second year of a session.

State Budget Process - Overview

In the first year of a legislative session (as we are in now), the Governor's budget is called House 1. In the second year of a legislative session, it is House 2. The Massachusetts fiscal year begins July 1.

General Timeline: