Senator Ross Pushes for New Transparency Measures

January 21, 2015

Boston– Today, State Senator Richard Ross joined with Republican colleagues to change a major Senate rule requiring the posting of Senate committee roll call votes to the General Court website within 48 hours of a vote being taken.  The measure passed unanimously by a vote of 38-0. Senator Ross served on the temporary committee on Ethics and Rules, tasked with proposing recommendations to be adopted as the permanent rules of the Senate for 2015-2016.

“Participating in the Senate Rules debate was constructive and collaborative and the newly adopted rules will only help to increase transparency, accountability, and efficiency throughout the legislative process,” said Senator Ross. “While I am disappointed some Republican initiated ideas were not included, we made some great gains, demonstrating the body’s continued dedication to the people of the Commonwealth.”

Other rules secured by the Senate Republican Caucus include:

  • Requiring the Senate Committee on Rules to report within 10 days on any rule change proposed by 1/5 of the members, and for the Senate to consider that report in a timely manner;
  • Requiring  an annual fiscal audit by a certified public accountant of Senate financial accounts, to be made available to the members of the Senate and the public upon request;
  • Requiring the clerk to link the text of all amendments to roll call votes on the General Court website; and
  • Requiring the Senate Committee on Ways and Means to provide copies of proposed bill texts to committee members upon request prior to any vote on such bills.

Immediately following last session’s Senate rules debate, the Senate Republican Caucus vowed to continue working to ensure that state government moves further towards transparency. The new Senate rule strikes a similar chord as a rule secured by the caucus during the 2013-2014 legislative session that requires the posting of all roll call votes taken by the members of the Senate to the General Court website within 48 hours of a vote being taken.

Unfortunately, some of the rules offered by Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester), Assistant Minority Leader Richard Ross (R-Wrentham), Assistant Minority Leader Robert Hedlund (R-Weymouth), Minority Whip Donald Humason (R-Westfield), Assistant Minority Whip Ryan Fattman (R-Webster) and Senator Vinny DeMacedo (R-Plymouth), the Ranking Republican on the Senate Committee on Ways and Means, did not generate the needed support from the members of the majority party.

Those proposed rules include:

  • Requiring the Senate Committee on Ways and Means’ budget proposal to contain detailed information regarding the source of revenues and how it’s being spent;
  • Requiring all Senate committees to provide at least four hours to review a committee poll;
  • Requiring a unanimous vote of all the members present to allow Senate business to proceed beyond the hour of midnight;
  • Requiring the broadcasting of all informal and formal sessions online. Additionally, requiring the reporting of the progress of negotiations for formal sessions to be broadcast on TV; and
  • Limiting the pairing of votes only in cases where a senator is absent from the chamber due to military service or physical incapacity.

Please contact the office of Senator Ross with any questions or concerns at (617) 722-1555 or Richard.Ross@masenate.gov.

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