Weekend Buzz | The Massachusetts House of Representatives, in Brief
Plus some very important opportunities to connect and support in our community!
Today we are going to take a quick tour of one facet of our state legislature. But first, a few announcements.
People Helping People and Shannon Jenkins have partnered to hold our annual backpack drive for children in need in the Burlington community.
You can donate backpacks for children aged 3-18. The drop off deadline is August 7th 2022.
Drop-off location and times:
RE/MAX Realty Experts; 265 Winn St, Suite 201; Burlington, MA, between 9:30 AM and 4:00 PM Monday-Friday
Burlington Food Pantry; 21 Murray Ave; Burlington, MA, during business hours
For the Amazon delivery address (if you plan to ship), email Shannon Jenkins.
Thank you so much to our community for being so supportive. We couldn’t run such a successful fundraiser without this collective effort.
Newsies, Jr. Shows Friday and Saturday
The B.E.S.T. program will be putting on its annual production next weekend, and this year is one of my absolute favorites - Newsies Jr. A group of middle grade kiddos (grades 4-9) has been working for weeks to learn the show, and they’re very excited to show off all their hard work. The shows will be on Friday, July 29, at 7:00 PM, and Saturday, July 30, at 2:00 PM. You can get tickets here and watch some interviews with cast and directors on BCAT.
The Monthly Community Dinner will be held once again at the Presbyterian Church on Wednesday, July 27, at 5:30. All are welcome; these dinners are a place to gather and converse with the community. There will be both vegetarian and meat options.
Okay, now for the main event: The House of Representatives.
My interviews with Timmy Sullivan and Ken Gordon are going live soon. In fact, paying subscribers can listen today starting at noon. So, in preparation for that, I wanted to give you a crash course on our state’s House of Representatives.
Our state government is modeled after the federal one, on a smaller scale. We’ve got the same three branches (executive, judicial, and legislative), and a lot of analogous bodies. So, just like the federal government has a Congress made up of the Senate and the House of Representatives, our state has the same configuration. Senators and Representatives each represent a district; we have 40 state Senators and 160 state Representatives.
I’m talking about the House today (and not the Senate) for a very simple reason: I interviewed the candidates for State Rep. Maybe one day I’ll get to the point where I can be more proactive rather than trying to cover things as they come up, but today is not that day. The Senate race isn’t contested, while the House race is, which is the reason I interviewed the candidates for the House and not the Senate. I’d love to interview our (uncontested) Senate candidate, and probably will someday, if she’ll have me.
So - the House. The House of Representatives is (Wikipedia just told me) the “lower court” of the state legislature, while the Senate is the “higher court.” Representatives in the House have a few different job functions:
Pass state law and amend it where needed
Develop and vote on the state budget
Represent the unique perspectives and needs of the district they represent
Also, did you know the House adjourns at the end of July (that’s next week) and doesn’t do any formal work again until January? As you’ll hear in my interview with our current State Representative and incumbent candidate, Ken Gordon (don’t click that until after noon today, or next Saturday if you’re a free subscriber), anything that can go through on a unanimous vote - like a bridge naming or something else no one would object to - can still get passed, but any meaty legislation that wouldn’t be unanimous has to wait until January.
Another thing I learned, this time while talking to challenger, Timmy Sullivan (ditto on the link), is that the Massachusetts legislature isn’t subject to open meeting law. I kind of knew this on some level, because Town Meeting (the town-level legislative body) isn’t subject to Open Meeting Law like our other Boards and Commissions are. But I didn’t know that extends to the state legislature. Among other things, that means the votes our Representatives take in committee aren’t recorded. That has the potential to be important because committees are where Representatives go to work out the details of particular bills together.
There are a million different ways bills can make their way through the legislature, and I am not educated enough to explain any of them to you, but I can say with a reasonable degree of confidence that the House and the Senate work together to get each bill in a place where it can be passed by both ”courts” (that just means the House and Senate) and signed by the Governor.
In an age where the federal government seems to be shifting more and more discretion back to the states, the state legislature is likely to take a bigger role in protecting individual rights and setting the direction of our state in the coming years. A good State Representative will recognize the unique needs of their district and advocate for them while also doing what makes sense for the state at large.
Will that be Ken or Timmy? Listen to my interviews with them and decide for yourself. Paid subscribers (I really need a new name for youse. Do you have any suggestions?), look out for the emails at noon today. Free subscribers (would love a better way to refer to you loyal readers, as well), I think an email will come through next Saturday when the post is unlocked, but I’m not clear on whether or not that happened with the Governor’s Council posts. Wanna drop me a comment or reply to this email and let me know?
Alright. Enough from me.
I’ll see you tomorrow.