Massachusetts Anti 2A Bill Update February 2, 2024

On February 1st, late in the night, after hours of secret backroom negotiations the Massachusetts Senate passed their version of the House bill.

GOAL will get to work on a summary as soon as the official language is available to the public.

The very first thing that people need to know is that nothing, in either version, is enforceable until a final version is signed by the Governor.

While the Senate language is greatly less than the House due to a lot of work by some senators, there are still great concerns that have to be addressed.

So, what happens now. The Senate version (S.2572) was actually done as an amendment to the House version (H.4139). A simple explanation is that the Senate attempted to replace all of the House language with theirs.

  • Now the revised bill will go back to the House for their approval of the new language.
  • If the House does not accept the Senate language, they will vote on that.
  • If the Senate and House don’t agree, the bill will most certainly go to what is called a “conference committee”.
  • Committee members will be assigned by the House and Senate.
  • All work and discussions done by a conference committee is done in secret. The public is not allowed to listen, watch or even know how things are proceeding.
  • Under this process all of the House language and Senate language is in play. There are occasions when new language can be created.
  • If the conference committee comes to an agreement, the agreed upon bill will go back to the House and Senate for a final vote.
  • On the final vote, there is no debate, no further amendments. It is a Yes or No vote.

Conference Committee Explanation

When a stalemate develops between branches over an amended Bill, a Conference Committee is established to try to resolve the disagreement. A Conference Committee is made up of three legislators from each branch, chosen by the Speaker of the House and the Senate President. Two of the members are chosen from the majority party; the remaining member is selected from a minority party. Usually, the Chairperson of the Committee where the Bill originated from is selected as the Chairperson of the Conference Committee. This selection is often made to acknowledge the Chairperson's expertise and knowledge of the subject area.

Conference Committee members are expected to uphold the position of their prospective branches. However, each Conference Committee is responsible for working out a compromise that both branches can agree upon. Once a majority of Conference Committee members reach an agreement a Conference Report is sent to the floor from which the Bill originated. A Conference Report cannot be amended; it can be only accepted or rejected by this branch and sent to the other branch for acceptance or rejection. Conference Reports that are accepted by both branches are sent to the Governor for signature or veto. Rejected Conference Reports are sent back to the Conference Committee for further negotiations.