Legislative Process


by Eugenia Gibbons

The MA Legislative Session last two years, beginning in January of the first year and ending on July 31 of the second year. SENATE deadlines. HOUSE deadlines.

Year 1 Legislative Session: January 2019 - November 2019

  • First Wednesday of January - House & Senate convene
  • Third Friday of January - Legislative filing deadline 2/3/19
  • End of January - Governor submits budget to House Ways & Means (HWM)
  • Second Wednesday of May - last day for HWM to report budget
  • June 30 - FY20 budget due
  • Third Wednesday of November - last day of formal session for year
  • First Tuesday of January in 2nd year - last day of 1st Annual Session

Year 2 Legislative Session: January 2020 - July 2020

  • First Wednesday of January - House & Senate reconvene
  • End of January - Governor submits budget to HWM
  • Third Wednesday of March - Joint Rule 10 Day: Last day for reports to be made by Joint Committees
  • Second Wednesday in May - last day for HWM to report budget
  • June 30 - FY21 budget due
  • July 31 - last day of formal Legislative Session
  • 1st Wednesday of January in 3rd year - last day of session of 2nd Annual Session


  1. Legislation is filed, assigned a bill number, referred to a committee.
  2. Committee holds public hearing where testimony is heard. After hearing, the Committee issues a report recommending a bill “ought to pass,” “ought not to pass,” be sent to another committee, or ordered to study.
  3. If favorably reported out: Bill receives first reading in the House or Senate. Common for a bill to be sent to another committee at this stage.
  4. The bill then receives a second reading, debate occurs and amendments can be filed.
  5. After debate, if the bill receives favorable vote, it is ordered to a third reading and referred to the Committee on Bills in the Third Reading, where it is reviewed for technical corrections (i.e. legality, duplication, etc.). Last stop before bill is sent to floor for a vote.
  6. Bills released from Committee in the Third Reading, it is read a third time in the chamber and again subject to debate. Once debate ends, a vote is taken on engrossment.
  7. Bills passed to be engrossed are sent to the other Legislative Branch, where it needs to go through all three readings again. (House bills sent to Senate. Senate bills sent to House.)
  8. If the bill is not amended by the second branch, it is sent to the Governor’s desk for signature. Bills amended in second branch are returned to original branch for a vote of concurrence. If concurrence is rejected, a bi-partisan conference committee is formed to reach a compromise/consensus bill between the two different bills.
  9. A bill reported out of conference committee is voted on in each branch - straight up or down vote. If passed, bill is sent to Governor’s desk for signature.

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