Massachusetts House Speaker Robert DeLeo provided 'Greater Boston' with the following statement about the show's segment with three representatives who contend they were not recognized to speak or given adequate time during a recent debate on a proposed tax change:

Oct. 29, 2019 – Statement by House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo
I’ve always admired Greater Boston for covering all sides of an issue. However, I find it ironic — and disappointing — that Greater Boston plans to run a segment about the alleged stifling of debate on the House floor and, in so doing, refuses to include on its on-air panel a member — who was both present for the debate and for the alleged incident in question — simply because that member’s view conflicts with that of their other guests. It is Greater Boston who is stifling debate. While I fully credit the producers offer for us to provide a statement, speak with other sources prior to the taping or to book a guest with an alternative view on a later program, that is not the equivalent of allowing all sides of an issue to be heard together on the same segment.

It is easy to make an allegation and easier still when those making the allegations are not required to produce any evidence or otherwise to respond to the facts. It is Greater Boston, then, unlike the House of Representatives, that is stifling debate so that it can report the story it wants to report, regardless of the truth.

As for the allegations, I have previously released an extensive statement on Oct. 17. I will, however, point out that since that statement those making the allegations have still not offered evidence to support their allegations. Their failure to be recognized was nothing more than an unintentional oversight that was likely exacerbated by their lack of knowledge of House rules and procedures.

The Speaker also provided an earlier statement that was issued in response to the representatives' claims:

Oct. 17, 2019 – Statement by House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo
While I was not in the chamber when this incident occurred, if the presiding officer failed to acknowledge a member seeking recognition I have to believe that it was the result of nothing more than an inadvertent oversight by the presiding officer. For anyone to suggest, without any evidence to the contrary, that there were improper motives behind such an inadvertent oversight or to attempt to politicize an inadvertent oversight via social media is both unfair and cynical.

It is presumed that all members are familiar with the rules and procedures applicable during a floor debate. Two of the most common procedural issues arising during a floor debate are members seeking recognition to speak and/or members seeking recognition while another member is speaking to request that that member yield for a question. In both instances, it is the responsibility of the member seeking recognition to seek recognition from the presiding officer. Apparently, during yesterday’s debate some members notified the Clerk of their intention to speak and sought his advice on how to be recognized. The Clerk advised the members on the proper procedures for seeking recognition. The presiding officer at yesterday’s session has no recollection of either member in question informing him, prior to the time the roll call was ordered, that they wished to speak. One must ask why members would choose to notify the Clerk, yet not the presiding officer, of their intention to speak during the amendment debate.

While the sponsor of the amendment was speaking, Chair Garlick sought and received recognition to request that the sponsor yield for a question. The member who was speaking, as is her prerogative, refused to yield at that time. Therefore, the questions that Chair Garlick had last evening remained unanswered today: what was the intent of the amendment, and why should the House vote to affirmatively retain student loans in the event of death or disability?

It should also be noted that, in addition to supporters’ unwillingness to answer questions on the policy and fiscal implications of the amendment, the amendment itself was incorrectly drafted and would have resulted in financial consequences for those responsible for the debt of deceased or disabled students.

Attempting to leverage what was in all likelihood an innocuous procedural error to deflect legitimate questions as to the policy and fiscal consequences of a poorly thought out policy proposal is both unfair and cynical.