Transparency in the MA Legislature

At our last RDTC meeting on May 22nd, we heard from local SwingLeft activist Alix Smullin on efforts to improve transparency in the MA Legislative process. Climate related legislation in MA has the broad support of both voters and legislators, yet has difficulty getting passed into law. Alix brought to our attention a recent policy brief by the Climate and Development Lab at Brown CSSN Research Report 2021: Who’s Delaying Climate Action in Massachusetts? TwelveFindings .

1:​ Four distinct industry coalitions lobby against environmentalists
2:​ Testimony in legislative committees is nine to one in support of climate action
3:​ On lobbying, clean energy advocates are outspent more than 3.5 to 1
4:​ Renewable energy interest groups stick to narrow industrial interests
5:​ Utilities lobby against solar energy, but support large hydro & wind power
6:​ Utility companies are uniquely successful throughout the legislative process
7:​ AIM (Associated Industries of Mass.) lobbies and speaks against rapid climate action
8:​ The fossil fuel industry lobbies heavily against pipeline rules, divestment, and carbon pricing
9:​ The real estate industry resists residential energy efficiency bills
10:​ Power generators fight hydro and wind supply
11:​ Opponents no longer deny the reality of climate change, but focus on cost and reliability
12:​ Climate action is tightly controlled by State House committees and leadership’

They recommend, ‘far greater transparency on committee and floor votes, better reporting on lobbying and committee inputs, better controls on utilities, and broader engagement by renewable energy companies in climate policy.’

In other legislative districts, local committees have formed to work with their representatives. Some town committees have joined the effort as a committee.

For more information see A Campaign for Rules Reform by Act on Mass. If you have an interest in joining the local effort to improve transparency, please contact Alix.

Intro to

And now for something completely different…..
Last week, we announced some changes in the numbers for Massachusetts House and Senate versions of the Compassionate End of Life Care bills. But, curious minds would like to know how a voter could find information like that out for themselves. Thus, we will spend a few pixels today on, and how to use it to search for bills of interest and/or legislative work of any particular member of the legislature.

Frontpage of the site.

This is actually a beautifully usable website with useful information on current bills, laws, legislators and commissions.

1 – Useful searchbox. Should you be looking for information on a particular bill, but only have a vague idea of its name, the search box at the top of the page will predict fairly well as you type. If you don’t see your bill listed, you can use the ‘See all results for this General Court’ which will get you an expanded list with filtering options

Searchbox from, with predictions.

Expanded search results from

2 – Find your Legislators. If you are new to MA, or have recently moved within state, you might not know who your legislators are. The Legislators section of the front page lets you search for your MA representative or senator by list and with the ‘Find My Legislator’ feature you can even search by map.

Find My Legislator from

3 – Hearings and Events. Upcoming hearings and events are listed here. When the house or senate is in session, you can watch the proceedings live.

Live session page from

4 – Easy to use Bills and Laws Section. Has your favorite bill already been passed by the house? Is it an amendment to a previous bill that is already law? Combining the main page for these two topics is among the best approaches to this content this reviewer has seen.

Bill and Laws page from

5- ++ Although not called out in red in the first image above, the main menubar on this site is also wonderfully useful. Some of these menu items provide another route to information presented in the main page, and some, like Committees & Commissions, are the main route to those sections.

Committees and Commissions expanded menu from

In conclusion, this website is a great tool! Give it a spin sometime soon!