DeLeo, Rosenberg agree to a set of rules

Leaders compromise to avoid acrimony of 2015

HOUSE SPEAKER ROBERT DELEO and Senate President Stanley Rosenberg on Wednesday announced they had bridged their differences and found common ground on rules for running the Legislature, an issue that led to threats and recriminations at the beginning of the last session in 2015.

Rosenberg agreed to retain the existing joint legislative committees, which are dominated by House members. DeLeo, meanwhile, made two concessions to the Senate. He agreed to move up by seven weeks the date by which bills must be released from the committees and accepted a rule requiring the bills to return to their originating body for initial action.

The changes, if approved by the full House and Senate, mean the existing committee structure, which favors the House, will remain in place. But senators in most cases should now get a chance to push for a vote in the Senate on any bills they propose.

In 2015, senators had complained that too many of their bills ended up stalled in the House-dominated committees. The tension became so high that the Senate voted 39-0 to develop plans to pull members out of the joint committees and establish their own panels, an approach that came to be known as the “nuclear option.”  DeLeo at the time was dismissive of the Senate’s push for change, calling it an “impolitic and manufactured reaction to a non-existent problem.”

Eventually, House and Senate leaders cooled their rhetoric and, at least in public, made nice. Senators say more of their bills in the last session weren’t bottled up in the joint committees, enough to ease some of their concerns.

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Bruce Mohl

Editor, CommonWealth

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

House and Senate officials were tight-lipped yesterday about the negotiations that led to Wednesday’s announcement, but it appears the Speaker and Senate President both decided to give a little. The new rules would require all bills to be reported out of the joint committees by Feb. 1 in the second year of a two-year legislative session, about seven weeks earlier than the current rules require.

The proposed rules also require roll call votes whenever the House or Senate vote on bundled or consolidated budget amendments. House-Senate committees appointed to resolve differences between the branches on specific legislation would also have to be appointed two weeks before the end of formal sessions on July 31 of the second year of the two-year legislative session.