Guide to Massachusetts Legislative Processes

How does passing legislation in Massachusetts work? What role do the hearings for bills play?

When a bill is introduced to the State House, it is studied and voted upon by a committee of State Senators and Representatives assigned to legislation on various topics. For example, the Paid Family and Medical Leave Act is being debated by the Joint Committee Labor and Workforce Development. These committees hold hearing in which they listen to the opinions, experiences, and expertise of constituents, affected residents, experts, and advocates. Each bill must be passed out of committee to receive a vote by the State Senate and the State House of Representatives. If both the House and Senate vote favorably, the House and Senate work to reconcile any differences between the their respective versions of each bill, and send the final legislation to the Governor for approval.

Note: The process for the Fair Share Amendment differs from that for paid family and medical leave, the minimum wage increase, and the Safe Communities Act. Senators and Representatives will take a vote during a special Constitutional Convention to decide whether the amendment will go on the 2018 ballot for voter approval.


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