In Massachusetts committee chairmanships and vice chairmanships are appointed by the Speaker and President of the Senate. In addition there are numerous leadership positions in the Majority Party that the Speaker and Senate President appoint. The Speaker and Senate President decide what committees state legislators sit on.
Nebraska, the only state with a nonpartisan unicameral legislature, has one of the most egalitarian systems. The membership of the legislature elects the speaker and all of the chairman of committees by secret ballot. They elect a 9 member executive board (which includes the speaker) that manages the legislature's employees and oversees the day to day operations of the chamber. The legislature also elects 13 members to a Committee on Committees, which recommends who gets to be on each committee. Those recommendations are then approved by the full legislature. Being a non partisan legislature (although technically all the members belong to a party) there are no majority and minority leadership positions.
Another potential alternative for selecting chairs of committees would be for each committee to elect their own chair and vice chair, instead of having them be appointed by the speaker.
Each leadership position in the Majority and Minority parties are elected by their parties caucus in states like Alaska, California, and Nevada, . In Massachusetts, these positions are appointed by the Speaker, Senate President and Minority Leaders, and are only ratified by their respective caucuses. Seldom does a caucus reject an appointment.
When roll call votes are taken in the Massachusetts House, Representatives' votes appear on two giant billboards. The leadership members of the Democratic Party are all lined on the top of the first board with the speaker being listed first, followed by the Majority Leader, followed by other party leaders. The rest of the Democrats are listed alphabetically. The Republicans are listed at the bottom of the second board. During a vote, the entire first row of leadership is all lit up ether in red opposing a motion, or in green supporting a motion, sending a signal to rank and file members to vote with them. In the South Dakota House of Representatives, the results of a roll call are secret until everyone has voted. This rule prevents some of the peer pressure legislators experienced in Massachusetts. In the Arizona Senate, the Senate President is required to vote last.
70 percent of the nation’s legislatures have adopted Mason's Manual of Legislative Procedure which acts as a guide for procedures not covered in a Legislature's standing rules. Massachusetts's House, Senate, and Joint rules are complicated and ambiguous over certain procedures. The Massachusettts Legislature has not adopted Mason's Manual of Legislative Procedure. Adopting Mason's Manual of Legislative Procedure and simplifying some of the rules might lead to less confusion over parliamentary procedure at the statehouse.