MASS. STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE:
Gun Bill Sponsor Open To Vote Without Public Hearing First
[Story Developing] The architect of a gun law reform bill at the center of tensions between the House and Senate said after a pair of private House meetings that he has “no idea” when the legislation might get to the House floor for a vote.
After two days of closed-door meetings where all 160 members of the House had the chance to ask questions about the 141-page bill that seeks to reform red flag laws, licensing, and right-to-carry provisions, Rep. Michael Day, who wrote the omnibus gun reform bill, said it is “urgent to move quickly” because “we’re losing people on a daily basis” to gun violence. “The longer we sit on this bill I think the less service we’re doing to our constituents,” said Day, who acknowledged that his bill is “dense” and “difficult to understand,” leading to questions about legislative intentions.
But the bill stands at an impasse amidst a procedural dispute between the chambers, and even if that hurdle is overcome there has been no indications top Democrats in the House and Senate are ready to quickly rally around a single gun bill.
The House voted to send the Day bill to the Joint Committee on the Judiciary — where Day serves as the chair.
The Senate sent the bill to the Joint Committee on Public Safety, saying this is the avenue gun bills usually take.
Unless one of the chambers budges, the bill will not anytime soon go through the typical public hearing process, where residents can give direct feedback to lawmakers.
Asked by reporters Tuesday if he would be open to voting on a bill that has not had a public hearing, Day responded, “We’ve done that in the past.” “We’ve all taken votes on those types of bills in the past. I vote on anything that’s on the House floor,” Day said.
The House has an informal session scheduled for Wednesday — a departure from their usual Monday and Thursday meetings — which could signal that representatives are hoping to tee up legislation ahead of a future session.
Day said “I haven’t heard any indication” that the House is moving the gun bill on Wednesday. If the House wants to vote on the bill without coming to an agreement with the Senate over the committee assignment — which Day called “a dispute between the chambers” — representatives could use other legislative processes to circumnavigate the joint committee hearings. “I think there are a bunch of options that legislators use all the time to move legislation forward, and what those options are for this particular piece of legislation remains to be seen,” Day said. – Sam Drysdale/SHNS