With traditional ceremony, the Great and General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts convened in Constitutional Convention on Wednesday. The Senate Sergeant-at-arms announced the Senate, and the House chair bid them enter. House members stood to applaud as their colleagues from the senior chamber came in. State House News Service reports the Senate President gaveled the joint session to order at 1:06 p.m.

With traditional ceremony, the Great and General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts convened in Constitutional Convention on Wednesday. The Senate Sergeant-at-arms announced the Senate, and the House chair bid them enter. House members stood to applaud as their colleagues from the senior chamber came in. State House News Service reports the Senate President gaveled the joint session to order at 1:06 p.m.

These joint sessions of the Legislature are rare. They are required by law to consider amendments proposed for the state Constitution, either by initiative petition or legislative action. On the agenda were 17 proposals intended to improve the way the commonwealth is governed, including reforming the legislative redistricting process, abolishing the Governor's Council, limiting state spending, repealing automatic pay raises for legislators and restricting the use of eminent domain.

You might think it would take some time for lawmakers to complete a full debate on proposals like this. Actually, the leaders on Beacon Hill have a hard time even starting the debate. This Constitutional Convention was first convened May 13, 2009, but recessed 13 minutes later without having taken up the first item. It reconvened Sept. 30, 2009, and recessed immediately until Feb. 24.

Wednesday's session lasted a little longer. Senate President Therese Murray opened the session by introducing the Watertown High School field hockey team, noting that the niece of Sen. Steven Tolman played on the team. "The chamber applauded," SHNS drily notes.

Then, at 1:07 p.m., Murray recessed the joint session, to return July 29, 2010. Anyone who thinks the lawmakers will give any more serious consideration to proposed constitutional amendments in July than they did this week chooses hope over experience.

After Murray's gavel fell, in the words of the Senate Journal, "the Senate withdrew from the House chamber under the escort of the Sergeant-at-arms."

At least the Watertown field hockey team got the chance to see their elected leaders at work.

The MetroWest Daily News