How to effectively fight back against the out-of-control Massachusetts State Legislature that is taking away our rights.

The answer: End "informal sessions."

This will derail the train! But it will take help from regular people.

April 17, 2024. Updated June 18, 2024
ALT TEXT The Massachusetts State House needs to be cleaned out by the citizens!

The Massachusetts State Legislature should be protecting our rights and keeping the Commonwealth safe and well-run. But instead, it spends much of its time creating unnecessary laws and allocating money on agendas that take away citizens’ rights and liberties, diminish the quality of life, and destabilize the social order.

These outrages include:

What do these all have in common? None of it is being done because average people in Massachusetts are asking for it. All of it is being done to please well-funded political special interests. These special interests are skilled and aggressive at lobbying and have agendas that are completely disconnected from the desires of regular citizens. But they have far more influence over our legislators than the citizens who elect them.

At the same time that our legislators are expending so much energy to please special interests, they are outrageously “saving time” for themselves by unlawfully – and unconstitutionally – disregarding the proper duties they were elected to perform.

The fraud of “informal sessions”

The Massachusetts Legislature does something that no other legislature in the country does. The House and Senate both “pass” over 60% of their legislation in sleazy, unconstitutional so-called “informal sessions” that lack a required quorum. It is shocking to legislators in other states when they hear about it.

If you’re a bartender or teacher or grocery store worker, you have to go to work every day. But our elected legislators don’t want to have to do that. They don’t really feel like dealing with all the “boring” bills that they also were elected to consider and vote on. So over the years they’ve concocted a scheme that they’ve now shamefully institutionalized.

Here’s how it works:

The House has 160 members. The Senate has 40 members. The Massachusetts Constitution is clear and unambiguous: half of each body must be present for business to be conducted:

Article XXXIII.
A majority of the members of each branch of the general court shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of business, but a less number may adjourn from day to day, and compel the attendance of absent members. All the provisions of the existing constitution inconsistent with the provisions herein contained are hereby annulled.

The full House and Senate meet normally only once or twice a month where they debate and vote on the “important” legislation (that most of us dread). These are called “formal sessions.” But they only deal with a small number of the total bills before the Legislature.

Two or three times a week, the House and Senate also meet, but this time with only a tiny number of members (usually only 2 or 3 – though at least one from each party). There is obviously no legal quorum. But that’s where most of the bills before the Legislature get voted on. They quickly go through a long list at each meeting. It’s been pre-determined how they’re going to vote, and everyone votes the same way. (There’s no debate, and no roll-call votes.) This happens all year long. These are called “informal sessions” and treated as if they were legitimate.

You can actually watch the videos of these House and Senate informal sessions on the State House website.

ALT TEXT At this informal session on April 11, three State Reps are at the podium, along with staffers and guards at the sides, holding a session before an empty room. At the microphone is Rep. Sean Garballey (D-Arlington). Behind him are Rep. David Vieira (R-Falmouth) and Rep. Donald Wong (R-Saugus). They "passed" numerous bills that day.

How do they rationalize this outrageous charade? They “pretend” there’s a quorum by not formally taking a count of the members present, even though it’s obvious there isn’t one.

Everyone at the State House is in on the scam. It’s a grand collusion between both political parties, all the members of the Legislature, and all the Boston media. They all know what’s happening and choose to ignore it because it’s expedient for everyone.

Years ago we asked the House legal counsel whether informal sessions are unconstitutional. He didn’t deny it; he simply said, “That’s how we do things here.” The head Boston Globe State House reporter told us the same thing.

When we ask legislators about this, even “conservative” Republicans tell us that it’s OK because all these bills are “non-controversial.” The fact that the Legislature is constitutionally required to do the job it was elected to do and properly vote on all these bills, as the legislatures in every other state do, doesn’t even matter to Republican legislators here.

Actually, many of the “non-controversial” bills are controversial to certain people. They deal with home-rule issues for towns, town charter changes, liquor licenses, and numerous statewide issues such as raises for state workers and the recent “move over” law for highways. Recently the House moved forward some very controversial bills on firearms and obscene books in schools - with just two legislators present.

But they have one problem with that scheme – that we can take advantage of. If a member of the Legislature shows up at an informal session and announces, “I doubt the presence of a quorum,” then the lack of a quorum is publicly on the record. The meeting has to shut down (until the next time).

Occasionally that has happened! When Jim Lyons was a State Rep, he shut it down for days over secretive funding for non-citizens – and they finally gave in. In December 2023, Republicans temporarily stopped informal sessions by calling the quorum because the Democrats were pushing funding for illegal immigrants in those sessions. Even Democrats have done it. Rep. Paul McMurtry temporarily stopped informal sessions over a liquor license that the Legislature was blocking.

It's time for the citizens to take action!

If the Massachusetts Legislature is going to take away our rights and liberties, we need to make them feel the pain. All informal sessions need to be shut down by calling the quorum.

Political experts have said that this will grind the Massachusetts Legislature to a halt. Good!

At the very least, make all the elected legislators actually come to work and do their jobs. Make them go on record that they are present, and how they cast their vote.

We already have one good Republican State Rep willing to do this. But he needs other Reps and Senators to join him. So far, none are willing to. That needs to change right now. They need to feel the wrath of the people. And the crooks who participate in these slimy “informal sessions” need to feel the heat from everyone. The end of all this sleazy government must start now!

If you are serious about helping change things in Massachusetts, we’ll let you know what to do, so please contact us right away!


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