2021-2022 LEGISLATIVE SESSION COMMENCES
Even in this socially distant world of COVID-19, TBG continues to be actively engaged in communication and advocacy with key legislators and their staff on behalf of our clients. TBG has been closely following first three months of the 2021-2022 Legislative Session and would like to take this opportunity to update you on leadership and committee changes and assignments, the FY 2022 Budget process, and the filing and processing of new legislation.
BILL FILING AND PROCESSING
The bill filing deadline for the 2021-2022 Session was 5:00 PM on February 19, 2021. Any bill filed after that time is considered a late-file bill and requires a 2/3 vote of the Legislature for admission. This session, more than 6,500 bills were filed ahead of the filing deadline. Although there are several thousand bills filed each session, typically only a few hundred are signed into law. Furthermore, many of those bills are targeted for very specific administrative issues, such as municipal sick leave banks. A bill must pass many legislative hurdles in order to be enacted, and the vast majority of bills filed each session do not cross that threshold.
The bills received docket numbers from their respective chambers. The House and Senate Clerks are currently processing the dockets, assigning bill numbers, and referring them to the appropriate committees. There are three new joint committees added this for this legislative session: Joint Committee on COVID-19 and Emergency Preparedness and Management; Joint Committee on Racial Equity, Civil Rights, and Inclusion; Joint Committee on Advanced Information Technologies, the Internet, and Cybersecurity. The House also added two new committees to study and make recommendations on the allocation of federal stimulus funds and census oversight.
LEGISLATIVE LEADERSHIP AND COMMITTEE ASSIGNMENTS
House and Senate leadership recently ratified and published their Committee assignments. Senate leadership remains the same as last session, with Senator Karen Spilka continuing to serve as Senate President, Senator Brownsberger as President Pro Tempore, and Senator Rodrigues as Chairman of the Ways & Means Committee. There were substantial changes to the House leadership structure and committee compositions, however, following the departure of Speaker DeLeo.
Newly elected Speaker of the House Ron Mariano began his term by introducing a new and diversified House leadership team.
The Speaker’s new leadership lineup is as follows:
Majority Leader-Claire Cronin (D- Easton) (First woman appointed Majority Leader)
Speaker Pro Tempore-Kate Hogan (D-Bolton)
Chairman of Ways and Means Aaron Michlewitz (D-Boston) Assistant Majority Leader Mike Moran (D-Boston)
1st Division Chair James O’Day (D- West Boylston)
2nd Division Chair Ruth Balser (D- Newton)
3rd Division Chair Frank Moran (D- Lawrence)
4th Division Chair Tom Golden (D- Lowell)
COMMITTEE HEARINGS AND THE FY22 BUDGET
Now that committee assignments have been finalized, committees will begin to review the legislation and schedule hearings. This process takes time, and while some committees may begin scheduling hearings for later this month, the majority will schedule their first hearings for some time this spring.
Committees are required to issue public notice in advance of each hearing and plan to continue conducting mostly virtual hearings as they have throughout the pandemic.
The Joint Committee on Ways & Means held their first virtual hearing on the Governor’s FY 2022 Budget Bill (House 1). Both Ways & Means Chairs, Secretary of State Galvin, Attorney General Healy, Treasurer Goldberg, Auditor Bump, Administration and Finance Secretary Heffernan, and others testified at this informational hearing. The Joint Committee on Ways and Means will likely host a series of similar hearings as they work to develop and release their respective versions of the FY 2022 Budget (House in Mid-April, Senate in Mid-May).