In an email circulated to all House members, House Minority Leader Brad Jones (R-North Reading) asked his colleagues in both parties to join an effort to exert greater influence over the House agenda in an effort he calls the Rule 28 Coalition – a reference to the House rule that allows a majority of House lawmakers to force bills to be discharged from several key committees for debate and floor votes.
While all 32 Republicans have already joined the coalition, Representative Charles Murphy (D-Burlington) is championing the coalition with the Democrats. Representative Harriett Stanley (D-West Newbury) is the only other Democrat who has signed on the coalition thus far.
Under the little used Rule 28, a majority of House members may file a signed petition with the House clerk relieving the House Committee on Ways and Means, the House Committee on Bills in the Third Reading, and the House Committee on Rules, from further consideration of a legislative matter. According to a section of the rule, seven days following the filing of the petition, the clerk shall place the matter in the Orders of the Day for the next calendar day that the House is meeting.
Joining the coalition, which would be non-binding for any member, indicates a commitment to support any other members’ motion to discharge a bill from the House Ways and Means, Bills in Third Reading or Rules Committee. Members would be free to debate and vote for or against any legislation moved forward by the coalition, but agree to oppose any attempt to recommit the bill to a committee or to study the legislation further.
To succeed, the coalition would need 81 lawmakers to take the pledge, requiring support from at least 49 Democrats. Jones created a website called Rule28.com and urged members to sign on before a press conference to formally announce the initiative.
The site features social media links and encourages visitors to contact their representatives and encourage them to join.