How the MA Bill Process Works


The Massachusetts Production Coalition and fellow industry stakeholders are supporting legislation to eliminate the sunset clause of the state’s Film & Television Production Incentive. The incentive program by current law ends in 2022 – and with it the thousands of jobs and small businesses supported by the film and television production industry in Massachusetts. Read more about our campaign here.

Legislation has been filed to eliminate the sunset:

  • House Docket 388, An Act to remove the film tax expiration date

  • Senate Docket 424, An Act supporting job growth in the Commonwealth

Here is the process the bill will have to take to become law:

  • Bills are filed in January 2019 for the 2019-2020 legislative session (the formal voting sessions end July 31, 2020.)

    • Supporters then ask other legislators to ‘Co-Sponsor’ the bill. The deadline for legislators to co-sponsor is February 1st for House bills.

  • Once filed, a bill is assigned a temporary ‘docket’ number – then it is assigned a formal bill number and sent to a Legislative Committee for review and consideration.

  • The Committee will hold a public hearing in which they will be offered testimony in support of (and against) the legislation. It is important to have a strong presence at the hearing to show support for the measure.

    • The hearing can happen at any time before the Committee’s deadline to vote on all the bills assigned to it, which will be in early 2020.

  • After the hearing the Committee will review the bill. The Committee has 4 options:

1) vote it favorably to pass from Committee,

2) vote it unfavorably / should not pass,

3) put it in study, or

4) put it on extension to continue to review.

We are seeking a favorable vote from the Committee.

This vote can happen anytime after hearing takes place and before the Committee deadline to vote on bills (which will be in early 2020.)

  • For bills that receive a ‘favorable’ vote from Committee, they then move to the Chamber in which they started. House bills to the House, and Senate bills to the Senate.

    • Once in their Chamber, they must pass through the Steering and Policy Committee and receive 2 favorable votes to pass and be sent to the other Chamber. (For example: a House bill that comes out of Committee will need 2 additional votes by the House to then be sent to the Senate.)

    • Once a bill is passed by its originating Chamber, it goes to the other Chamber in which the same process takes place.

Please note: During this process, amendments / changes can be offered to the bill, it can be re-drafted or altered. If there are differences in the House and Senate versions of the passed bills, they can try to be worked out informally, but if that can not happen, then a formal ‘Conference Committee’ is formed to work out their differences.

  • Once a bill passes both the House and Senate Chambers it needs a final ‘enactment’ vote by each Chamber.

  • Once a bill is enacted it is sent to the Governor. The Governor has 10 days to sign the bill into law, veto it, or amend it and send it back to the Legislature.

Additional pathways a bill or initiative can become law:

It is important to note! During the legislative process a bill may be attached to another, larger bill, as a means of passing it. The bill could be attached as an amendment / rider to the larger bill. That larger bill must have relevance. That also changes the original bill’s number, and it is no longer a stand-alone bill.

Supporters of this cause may note that over past sessions we have worked to fend off and defeat amendments that were filed to attack the Film & Television Tax Incentive program, as amendments to bigger bills and/or the state’s annual budget. Those conduits are still very much in play as the legislative session progresses.

This work and your contribution matters!

It is a very hard process to change law. Numerous interests, differences of opinion and political ideology, press and media influence, all impact the legislative process. Building consensus among elected officials to change law is challenging and requires tremendous effort and work to make legislators aware of the issues, educate them about the problem and solution, and convince them to act.