Government of Massachusetts
Polity typePresidential republic
Federated state
ConstitutionConstitution of Massachusetts
Legislative branch
NameGeneral Court
Meeting placeMassachusetts State House
Upper house
Presiding officerKaren Spilka, President
Lower house
NameHouse of Representatives
Presiding officerRonald Mariano, Speaker
Executive branch
Head of State and Government
CurrentlyMaura Healey
Name9 Executive Agencies
Deputy leaderLieutenant Governor
HeadquartersState House
Judicial branch
NameJudiciary of Massachusetts
CourtsCourts of Massachusetts
Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court
Chief judgeKimberly S. Budd
SeatSuffolk County Courthouse, Boston

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is governed by a set of political tenets laid down in its state constitution. Legislative power is held by the bicameral General Court, which is composed of the Senate and House of Representatives. The governor exercises executive power with other independently elected officers: the Attorney General, Secretary of the Commonwealth, and Auditor. The state's judicial power rests in the Supreme Judicial Court, which manages its court system. Cities and towns act through local governmental bodies to the extent that they are authorized by the Commonwealth on local issues, including limited home-rule authority. Although most county governments were abolished during the 1990s and 2000s, a handful remain.

Massachusetts' capital city is Boston. The seat of power is in Beacon Hill, home of the legislative and executive branches. The Supreme Judicial Court is in nearby Pemberton Hill.

Federal government

Congressional delegation

Further information: United States congressional delegations from Massachusetts and Massachusetts's congressional districts

For Congressional representation outlined in the United States Constitution, Massachusetts elects two senators to the Senate, as well as a number of Representatives to the House of Representatives proportional to the state's population in the US Census. From the 2010 Census, Massachusetts has nine representatives. As of the 2020 election, all these officials have been from the Democratic Party. This makes the Massachusetts federal delegation the largest single-party federal delegation in the United States.

Congressional delegation of Massachusetts
Chamber District Official Party Term began Term expires
Senate At-Large Elizabeth Warren Democratic 2019 2025
Ed Markey Democratic 2021 2027
House of Representatives 1st Richard Neal Democratic 2023 2025
2nd Jim McGovern Democratic
3rd Lori Trahan Democratic
4th Jake Auchincloss Democratic
5th Katherine Clark Democratic
6th Seth Moulton Democratic
7th Ayanna Pressley Democratic
8th Stephen Lynch Democratic
9th Bill Keating Democratic

Federal courts

For federal court cases the State falls within the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts and appeals to the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit.

Electoral College

Massachusetts has 11 votes in the electoral college for election of the President, which are given on a winner-take-all basis. The state joined the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact in 2009, though the Compact has not yet achieved sufficient national support to be activated.


Massachusetts has 151 departments or agencies and over 700 independent boards and commissions.[1] The head of the state's Executive Branch is by law the Governor, but it also has two types of executive officials that do not fall in the Governor's control. Constitutional officers are the elected officials specified by the state constitution, while independent agencies are created by statute and the governor exercises only indirect control through appointments.[2]

Constitutional officers

Constitutional officers
Incumbent Office Status Ex officio Departments Took office
Her Excellency
Maura Healey
(born 1971)
Governor Head of state
Head of government
Governor's Council
Commander-in-chief of the National Guard
  • Office of Constituent Services
  • Office of Federal-State Relations
5 January 2023
(17 months ago)
Her Honor
Kim Driscoll
(born 1966)
Lieutenant Governor Deputy officer Cabinet
Chair of the Governor's Council
  • Office of Constituent Services
  • Office of Federal-State Relations
5 January 2023
(17 months ago)
His Honor
William F. Galvin
(born 1950)
Secretary of the Commonwealth Chief administrator
Keeper of the Seal
Registrar of deeds
Records officer
Chief Elections Officer
Head of the Massachusetts Archives
Chair of the Massachusetts Historical Commission
  • Registry of Deeds
  • Office of Campaign and Political Finance
  • Division of Elections
  • Public Records Division
1 January 1995
(29 years ago)
The Honorable
Andrea Campbell
(born 1982)
Attorney General Chief legal officer
  • The Energy and Environment Bureau
  • The Government Bureau
  • The Health Care and Fair Competition Bureau
  • The Public Protection and Advocacy Bureau
18 January 2023
(16 months ago)
The Honorable
Deb Goldberg
(born 1954)
Treasurer and Receiver-General Treasurer Chair of the Massachusetts School Building Authority
Chair of the Massachusetts Lottery
Chair of the State Board of Retirement
  • Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission
  • Unclaimed Property Division
  • Veterans' Bonus Division
  • Massachusetts Clean Water Trust
21 January 2015
(9 years ago)
The Honorable
Diana DiZoglio
(born 1983)
State Auditor Auditor general
  • Bureau of Special Investigations
  • Division of Audit Operations
  • Division of Local Mandates
  • Municipal Finance Oversight Board
18 January 2023
(16 months ago)

Governor's Council

Main article: Massachusetts Governor's Council

Large, domed building with columns and an American flag in front
Massachusetts State House in Boston

The Governor's Council consists of eight councilors elected from districts every two years, as well as the lieutenant governor. The council provides for advice and consent for judicial appointments, appointment of certain public officials including notaries public and justices of the peace, pardons and commutations, and certain payments from the state treasury.[3] The governor is the nonvoting president of the council, but is chaired by the Lieutenant Governor in their absence.

Massachusetts Governor's Council
District Councilor Party
Chairperson, at-large Kim Driscoll Democrat
District 1 Joseph Ferreira Democrat
District 2 Vacant --
District 3 Marilyn M. Petitto Devaney Democrat
District 4 Christopher A. Iannella Democrat
District 5 Eileen R. Duff Democrat
District 6 Terrence W. Kennedy Democrat
District 7 Paul DePalo Democrat
District 8 Tara J. Jacobs Democrat

Some executive agencies are tasked by the legislature with formulating regulations by following a prescribed procedure. Most of these are collected in the Code of Massachusetts Regulations.

Cabinet and government agencies

The governor has a cabinet of eleven secretaries. They supervise the state agencies, which are under the direct control of the governor.[4] Nine of the secretaries preside over the executive office of their respective areas.[5]

Executive departments of Massachusetts
Office Secretary[6] Departments Website
Executive Office of Administration and Finance Matthew Gorzkowicz Appellate Tax Board
Bureau of the State House
Civil Service Commission
Department of Revenue
Developmental Disabilities Council
Division of Administrative Law Appeals
Division of Capital Asset Management
State Library
Group Insurance Commission
Healthy Policy Commission
Health Resources Division
Office on Disability
Operational Services Division
Public Employee Retirement Administration Commission
Teacher's Retirement Board
Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs Rebecca Tepper Department of Agricultural Resources
Department of Conservation and Recreation
Department of Energy Resources
Department of Environmental Protection
Department of Fish and Game
Department of Public Utilities
State Reclamation Board
Environmental Police
Massachusetts Office of Technical Assistance
Executive Office of Health and Human Services Kate Walsh Massachusetts Department of Children and Families
Department of Developmental Services
Department of Elder Affairs
Department of Mental Health
Department of Public Health
Department of Transitional Assistance
Department of Veterans' Services
Department of Youth Services
Department of Public Health
Office of Refugees and Immigrants
Commission for the Blind
Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing
Rehabilitation Commission
Soldiers Homes in Chelsea and Holyoke
Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development Yvonne Hao Consumers Affairs and Business Regulation
Department of Business Development
Department of Housing and Community Development
Department of Telecommunications and Cable
Division of Banks
Division of Insurance
Division of Professional Licensure
Division of Standards
Massachusetts Marketing Partnership
Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development Lauren Jones Department of Career Services
Department of Industrial Accidents
Department of Labor Relations
Department of Labor Standards
Department of Unemployment Assistance
Executive Office of Public Safety and Security Terrence Reidy Department of Criminal Justice Information Systems
Department of Correction
Department of Fire Services
Department of Public Safety
Department of State Police
Emergency Management Agency
Merit Rating Board
Massachusetts Organized Militia
Municipal Police Training Committee
Office of the Chief Medical Examiner
Parole Board
Sex Offender Registry Board
Executive Office of Technology Services and Security Jason Snyder
Executive Office of Education Patrick Tutwiler Department of Early Education and Care
Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
Department of Higher Education
Public Colleges and Universities
Executive Office of Transportation and Public Works Gina Fiandaca


Marble lobby with statues, columns and a flight of steps
State House interior

Main article: Massachusetts General Court

The state legislature is formally known as the Massachusetts General Court, reflecting its colonial-era judicial duties. It has two houses: the 40-member Senate and the 160-member House of Representatives. Members of both houses have two-year terms. The Speaker of the House presides over the House of Representatives and controls the flow of legislation. The President is the presiding officer of the Senate.

The General Court is responsible for enacting the state's laws. A bill signed by the governor, or passed by two-thirds of both houses over his or her veto, becomes law. Its session laws are published in the Acts and Resolves of Massachusetts, which are codified as the General Laws of Massachusetts. On June 9, 2017, S&P Global Ratings downgraded Massachusetts' bond rating to AA (the third-highest tier) due to the legislature's inability to replenish the state's rainy day fund in the face of above-average economic growth.[7]

Senate leadership House leadership
Karen Spilka
(D - Massachusetts Senate's 2nd Middlesex and Norfolk district)
Speaker of the House
Ronald Mariano
(D - 3rd Norfolk)
President pro tempore
Will Brownsberger
(D - 2nd Suffolk and Middlesex)
Speaker pro tempore
Kate Hogan
(D - 3rd Middlesex)
Majority Leader
Cynthia Stone Creem
(D - 1st Middlesex and Norfolk)
Majority Leader
Michael Moran
(D - 18th Suffolk)
Minority Leader
Bruce Tarr
(R - 1st Essex and Middlesex)
Minority Leader
Bradley Jones Jr.
(R - 20th Middlesex)


Large, 19th-century building landscaped with small trees
The John Adams Courthouse, home of the Supreme Judicial Court

Main article: Judiciary of Massachusetts

The judiciary is the branch of the government that interprets and applies state law, ensures equal justice under law, and provides a mechanism for dispute resolution. The Massachusetts court system consists of the Supreme Judicial Court, the Appeals Court, and seven trial-court departments.

Supreme Judicial Court

Further information: Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court

Judicial power is centered in the Supreme Judicial Court, which oversees the court system. In addition to its appellate functions, the Supreme Judicial Court is responsible for the governance of the judiciary and the bar, makes (or approves) rules for the operation of the courts and, on request, provides advisory opinions to the governor and legislature on legal issues. The Supreme Judicial Court also oversees affiliated judicial agencies, including the Board of Bar Overseers, the Board of Bar Examiners, the Clients' Security Board, the Massachusetts Mental Health Legal Advisors Committee, and Massachusetts Correctional Legal Services.

Position Name Born Began service Mandatory retirement Appointed by Law school
Chief Justice Kimberly S. Budd (1966-10-23) October 23, 1966 (age 57) December 1, 2020[a] 2036 Charlie Baker Harvard
Senior Associate Justice Frank Gaziano (1963-09-08) September 8, 1963 (age 60) August 18, 2016 2034 Charlie Baker Suffolk
Associate Justice Scott L. Kafker (1959-04-24) April 24, 1959 (age 65) August 21, 2017 2029 Charlie Baker Chicago
Associate Justice Dalila Argaez Wendlandt 1968 or 1969 (age 54–55) December 4, 2020 2038/2039 Charlie Baker Stanford
Associate Justice Serge Georges Jr. 1969 or 1970 (age 53–54)[8] December 16, 2020 2039/2040 Charlie Baker Suffolk
Associate Justice Bessie Dewar (1980-07-04) July 4, 1980 (age 43) January 16, 2024 2050 Maura Healey Yale
Associate Justice Gabrielle Wolohojian (1960-12-16) December 16, 1960 (age 63) April 22, 2024[9] 2030 Maura Healey Columbia
  1. ^ Associate Justice from August 24, 2016 to December 1, 2020.

Appeals Court

Further information: Massachusetts Appeals Court

The Appeals Court the state appellate court, which means that the justices review decisions made in the Trial Courts. The Appeals Court also has jurisdiction over appeals from final decisions of three State agencies: the Appellate Tax Board, the Industrial Accident Board and the Commonwealth Employment Relations Board. The Appeals Court consists of a chief justice and twenty-four associate justices.[10]

Trial courts

County government

Main article: Counties of Massachusetts

Only the southeastern third of the state has county governments; in western, central, and northeastern Massachusetts, traditional county-level government was eliminated during the late 1990s. District attorneys and sheriffs are elected by constituencies which mainly follow county boundaries, and are funded by the state budget.[11][12] Sheriff's departments operate correctional facilities and perform service of process in the county.


Sheriffs in Massachusetts
County Sheriff[13] Party Website
Barnstable Donna D. Buckley Democrat Link
Berkshire Thomas Bowler Democrat Link
Bristol Paul Heroux Democrat Link
Dukes Robert Ogden Democrat Link
Essex Kevin Coppinger Democrat Link
Franklin Christopher Donelan Democrat Link
Hampden Nick Cocchi Democrat Link
Hampshire Patrick Cahillane Democrat Link
Middlesex Peter Koutoujian Democrat Link
Nantucket James Perelman Democrat Link
Norfolk Patrick W. McDermott Democrat Link
Plymouth Joseph McDonald, Jr. Republican Link
Suffolk Steven Tompkins Democrat Link
Worcester Lewis Evangelidis Republican Link

District attorney

District attorneys are elected in 11 districts and serve as a public prosecutor representing the Commonwealth during criminal prosecutions. Most district attorneys are elected within the boundaries of a single county, and the district courts they operate in are within that county. The exception is Hampshire and Franklin Counties and the Town of Athol which make up the Northwestern District; and Barnstable, Dukes, and Nantucket Counties which make up the Cape and Islands District. Some districts that follow traditional county lines are officially known by a different name than the county, but they may also informally be called by the county name.

District attorneys of Massachusetts
District (Counties) District attorney[14] Party Website
Berkshire District Andrea Harrington Democrat Link
Bristol District Thomas Quinn, III Democrat Link
Cape and Islands District (Barnstable, Dukes, Nantucket) Michael O'Keefe Republican Link
Eastern District (Essex) Jonathan Blodget Democrat Link
Hampden District Anthony Gulluni Democrat Link
Middle District (Worcester) Joseph Early Democrat Link
Norfolk Michael Morrissey Democrat Link
Northern (Middlesex) Marian Ryan Democrat Link
Northwestern (Hampshire, Franklin) David Sullivan Democrat Link
Plymouth Timothy Cruz Republican Link
Suffolk Kevin Hayden Democrat Link

Registry of deeds

Main article: Registry of Deeds (Massachusetts)

All counties in Massachusetts have at least one registry of deeds, which is responsible for recording and holding copies of deeds, titles, and other land records within their district.[15] Each registry is run by an elected register of deeds, who serves for 6 year terms. Most counties have one registry, but some are divided into separate districts with their own registry. There are 21 registries.

Registry of deeds in Massachusetts
County Registry Register[16] Website
Barnstable Barnstable John F. Mead (R)
Berkshire North Berkshire Maria T. Ziemba (D)
Middle Berkshire Patsy Harris (D)
South Berkshire Michelle L. Laramee-Jenney (I)
Bristol North Bristol Barry J. Amaral (D)
Fall River Bernard J. McDonald, III (D)
South Bristol Sherrilynn M. Mello
Dukes Dukes Paulo C. Deoliveiria (D)
Essex North Essex M. Paul Iannuccillo (D)
South Essex John L. O'Brien, Jr. (D)
Franklin Franklin Scott A. Cote (D)
Hampden Hampden Cheryl A. Coakley-Rivera (D)
Hampshire Hampshire Mary K. Olberding (D)
Middlesex North Middlesex Richard P. Howe, Jr. (D)
South Middlesex Maria C. Curatone (D)
Nantucket Nantucket Jennifer H. Ferreira (I)
Norfolk Norfolk William P. O'Donnell (D)
Plymouth Plymouth John R. Buckley, Jr. (D)
Suffolk Suffolk Stephen J. Murphy (D)
Worcester North Worcester Kathleen Reynolds Daigneault (D)
South Worcester Kathryn A. Toomey (D)

Municipal government

Main article: Administrative divisions of Massachusetts

Modern concrete building
Boston City Hall

Massachusetts shares with the five other New England states the New England town form of government. All land in Massachusetts is divided among cities and towns and there are no unincorporated areas, population centers, or townships. Massachusetts has four kinds of public-school districts: local schools, regional schools, vocational-technical schools, and charter schools.

Amendment Article 89 (LXXXIX) of the Massachusetts Constitution defines the powers of self-government that municipalities are entitled to. Additional powers, such as the ability to collect certain taxes, are delegated to municipalities under state law. The article requires that General Laws passed by the General Court apply to at least two municipalities. Special Laws that apply to only one municipality must be enacted in response to a home rule petition from that city or town, or with a two-thirds majority in the General Court, or for the purpose of establishing, disestablishing, or modifying municipal boundaries.[17]

Proposition 2½ gives municipalities the right to state payment of municipal costs incurred as a result of any new state mandates implemented after January 1, 1981. Cities and towns can vote to accept a new mandate, or ask the Massachusetts State Auditor to determine the amount of funding owed; if the legislature does not provide that amount then ask the Massachusetts Superior Court for a ruling that grants the municipality an exemption from complying with unfunded mandates.[18]

Elections and politics

Further information: List of elections in Massachusetts and Politics of Massachusetts

Massachusetts is known for its progressive politics, and is a stronghold of American Liberalism and the Democratic Party. In a 2018 Gallup poll Massachusetts was the state with the highest percentage of its population identifying as liberal and the lowest percentage identifying as conservative, at 35% and 21% respectively.[19] This and the high profile of well known politicians from Massachusetts such as the Kennedy family has led to the derogatory political phrase "Massachusetts Liberal".

Ratings and rankings


The state has an open-meeting law enforced by the attorney general, and a public-records law enforced by the Secretary of the Commonwealth.[24] A 2008 report by the Better Government Association and National Freedom of Information Coalition ranked Massachusetts 43rd out of the 50 US states in government transparency. It gave the state a grade of "F", based on the time, cost, and comprehensiveness of access to public records.[25] Access to government records and the actions of the Secretary in enforcing the law became an issue in the 2014 campaign for the office. Incumbent William Galvin cited his previous requests that the legislature revise the Public Records Law to facilitate access.[26] According to the governor, he is exempt from the Public Records Law.[24] A reform law was signed on June 3, 2016 and took effect on January 1, 2017, imposing stricter time limits and lower costs.[27]

See also


  1. ^ "Home - Boards and Commissions". Archived from the original on December 8, 2019. Retrieved December 8, 2019.
  2. ^ "Constitutionals & Independents". Archived from the original on April 14, 2020. Retrieved April 15, 2020.
  3. ^ "Governor's Council". Archived from the original on April 14, 2020. Retrieved April 15, 2020.
  4. ^ "State Government Organizational Chart - Commonwealth of Massachusetts". Archived from the original on July 7, 2010. Retrieved August 6, 2010.
  5. ^ 6A MGL 2
  6. ^ "Governor's Cabinet". Archived from the original on March 10, 2023. Retrieved March 30, 2023.
  7. ^ Miller, Joshua (June 9, 2017). "State bond rating downgraded in blow to Baker, Mass. politicians". The Boston Globe. Archived from the original on June 10, 2017. Retrieved June 10, 2017.
  8. ^ Lisinski, Chris (December 17, 2020). "Randolph's Serge Georges sworn in to Supreme Judicial court". The Patriot Ledger. Archived from the original on January 19, 2021. Retrieved January 7, 2021.
  9. ^ "Governor's Council confirms Wolohojian as next justice on Supreme Judicial Court". WBUR News. Archived from the original on March 1, 2024. Retrieved March 13, 2024.
  10. ^ "Appeals Court". Archived from the original on April 14, 2020. Retrieved April 20, 2020.
  11. ^ "FY2009 Budget - District Attorneys General Appropriations Act". Archived from the original on March 10, 2010. Retrieved August 6, 2010.
  12. ^ "FY2009 Budget - Sheriffs General Appropriations Act". Archived from the original on March 10, 2010. Retrieved August 6, 2010.
  13. ^ "PD43+ » Search Elections". PD43+. Archived from the original on January 6, 2023. Retrieved January 6, 2023.
  14. ^ "PD43+ » Search Elections". PD43+. Archived from the original on October 26, 2020. Retrieved April 18, 2020.
  15. ^ "Massachusetts Land Records". Archived from the original on April 17, 2020. Retrieved April 15, 2020. (List of Massachusetts Registries of Deeds)
  16. ^ "PD43+ » Search Elections". PD43+. Archived from the original on September 22, 2020. Retrieved April 15, 2020.
  17. ^ What is Home Rule? Massachusetts Department of Revenue
  18. ^ Learn about mandate determinations, Massachusetts State Auditor
  19. ^ Jones, Jeffery M. (February 22, 2019). "Conservatives Greatly Outnumber Liberals in 19 U.S. States". Archived from the original on February 22, 2019. Retrieved April 24, 2020.
  20. ^ Ranking the States on Financial Transparency
  21. ^ Following the Money 2018
  22. ^ Harry Enten (January 23, 2015). "Ranking The States From Most To Least Corrupt". Five Thirty Eight.
  23. ^ How does your state rank for integrity?
  24. ^ a b "FOREWORD". Archived from the original on November 4, 2014. Retrieved November 4, 2014.
  25. ^ "States Failing FOI Responsiveness". Archived from the original on November 4, 2014. Retrieved November 4, 2014.
  26. ^ "Secretary of State Galvin faces criticism for keeping government secrets - Metro - The Boston Globe". Archived from the original on June 10, 2017. Retrieved June 21, 2017.
  27. ^ "Gov. Baker Signs Law Overhauling State's Public Records System". Archived from the original on December 8, 2019. Retrieved December 8, 2019.

Further reading