2017: A Year In Review

Committee Work

The Government Operations Committee reviews all proposed city ordinances and home rule petitions and makes recommendations to the Council on their passage. As Chairman, I work with colleagues, the Mayor’s office, and various groups and individuals to hold public meetings on these matters. This year, the Committee held hearings and working sessions to discuss a wide range of issues. Below I have highlighted some of our most notable accomplishments from this year.

  • Home Rule Petition re: “An Act to Regulate Lobbying Activities before the COB” (sponsored by Mayor Walsh):

The Committee on Government Operations held two hearings on Mayor Walsh’s proposal to regulate lobbying activities in City Hall. This home rule petition that would require lobbyist entities, lobbyist agents, clients, and other lobbying organizations to register annually with the city and to report certain information. This proposal will allow for more access to information and transparency in government. The proposal is modeled after existing regulations at the state level and would apply to both the executive and legislative branches and would include all city employees and elected officials. The hearings allowed the Committee to conclude that the guidelines outlined in the home rule petition does not fit how business is done at City Hall, thus advising us to continue the discussion.

  • Home Rule Petition re: “An Act Relative to Election Nomination Petitions in the COB” (Sponsored by Mayor Walsh):

    This is a home rule petition that would remove the limitation concerning the amount of nomination petitions that a duly registered voter is allowed to sign. This home rule petition would allow a duly registered voter to sign as many nomination papers for candidates for office without limitation. Further, the proposal seeks to increase participation in the election process, increase access to the ballot, and would bring the COB in-line with other municipalities. The Administration stated that this would provide administrative benefits because the Election Department would be able to certify candidates faster because they would have to review fewer names; however, the process would remain the same. The Administration explained that currently the COB is the only municipality that uses a signature limitation system and that the state does not have signature limitations. The Committee also discussed making the signature requirement for district councilor uniform.

  • Home Rule Petition re: “The Jim Brooks Stabilization Act ("Just Cause Eviction)” (Sponsored by Mayor Walsh):

    This is a home rule petition which seeks to prevent a non-exempt landlord or foreclosing owner from recovering possession of a residential unit or housing accommodation in any proceeding pursuant state laws unless there is a legitimate reason. The provisions of this proposal would apply to residential property owners that own seven or more residential units in the city. to rental units and housing accommodations in the City unless an exemption exists and would require non-exempt landlords or property owners to notify the City’s Office of Housing Stability (“OHS”) who would provide tenants with a description of their housing rights and resources. This proposal also outlines remedies for tenants which include actual damages, punitive damages, reasonable attorney’s fees and expenses. One of the key goals of the Jim Brooks Stabilization Act is to prevent displacement and provide education to tenants. The final version of this home rule petition was coupled with a separate ordinance that seeks to collect eviction data in our city.

  • An Ordinance creating the Community Preservation Committee (Sponsored by Councilor Campbell and myself)

This ordinance establishes the Community Preservation Committee (“CPC”), as required by state law MGL c.44B, §5, to make recommendations regarding the use of the funds generated by the 1% surcharge on real property. The proposal establishes the CPC’s function; membership, appointment, term; powers; and, duties.  Docket #0123 requires that the CPC study the needs of Boston regarding community preservation, evaluate community preservation needs of the City, and make recommendations for expenditures from the Community Preservation Fund. Under the terms of the proposal, the CPC would consist of nine members, five of which would be appointed as required under MGL c.44B, §5 and four members appointed by the City Council (who were voted upon in December 2017).

  • Ordinance Regarding the Reduction of Plastic Bags in Boston (Sponsored by Councilor Matt O’Malley and Councilor Michelle Wu):

The purpose of this ordinance is to reduce the use of disposable checkout bags by retail establishments in the COB, curb litter on the streets, protect marine environment, waterways, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and solid waste, and to promote the use of reusable bags by retail establishments located in the City.This legislation would ban single-use plastic bags. Further, retail establishments in the City would be required to offer only recyclable, reusable, or compostable bags at checkout with a minimum 5-cent fee with the intention to encourage customers to bring their own reusable (canvas) bags. The regulations go into effect December 2018.

  • Home Rule Petition re: Raymond Flynn Marine Park Energy Saving Services (Sponsored by Mayor Walsh):

This home rule petition proposed to use the Raymond L. Flynn Marine Park as a microgrid (electrical distribution network that can serve multiple buildings in a local area and can enter into “island mode” by separating from the larger electrical grid when there is a major outage) project. The EDIC seeked to procure an energy service company to provide energy project services to all public and private property owners and tenants within the area.

  • An Order approving the acceptance of Sections 22A, 22B, and 22C of Ch. 40 of the Gen. laws, as amended by Ch. 218 of the Acts of 2016, The Municipal Modernization Act, a local option for the purpose of maintaining a parking meter fund reserved for appropriation (part of the Municipal Modernization Act, Sponsored by Mayor Walsh).

Established under the Municipal Modernization Act, the option to maintain parking meter receipts will be deposited into the parking meter fund reserved for appropriation for acquisition, installation, maintenance and operation of parking meters along with assisting in other processes that fall under the parking office: parking payment and enforcement technology, regulation of parking, salaries of parking management personnel, improvements to the public realm, transportation improvements. Adoption of this local option will allow the City to continue to invest in transportation infrastructure.

  • Home Rule Petition re: An Act Authorizing Additional Licenses for the sale of All Alcoholic Beverages to be Drunk on the Premises in Boston.

This home rule petition seeks to provide for 152 new non-transferable licenses in the City of Boston. At the hearing, the Committee addressed and discussed the provisions - which included the number of new licenses, the distribution of licenses in the neighborhoods, the impact of additional licenses on existing license holders, and the definition of the term “umbrella license.” The Committee also discussed the public need standard, along with the monetary value of nontransferable licenses, the de-valuing of current licenses. The proposal remains in Committee for further action.

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