Inside the Legislature’s latest power struggle


State Sen. Michael Barrett on Monday accused his House co-chair on the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy of scheduling a hearing on energy bills for later this week without his consent. “There’s a small chance this is merely a serious error,” Barrett said in a statement. “Otherwise, I regret to say, the use of my name appears to be fraudulent.”

But Barrett isn’t just peeved about one listening session. He said state Rep. Jeffrey Roy’s “unilateral act” not only violates the rule that joint committee chairs agree on hearing schedules, but also breaks with broader governing practices designed to give the Senate an equal say on panels where their members are outnumbered. And he claimed other Senate chairs “are being pressed along similar lines.”

Barrett is giving voice to what some senators have been privately griping about for months. They say House chairs pushed boilerplate rules this session that would let them leverage their chamber’s numerical advantage on joint committees by using majority votes to call hearings and move bills without senators’ consent.

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