Senator Sal DiDomenico (D-Everett) and his colleagues in the Senate recently passed comprehensive legislation to modernize municipal finance and governance laws in Massachusetts, including provisions to eliminate or update obsolete laws, promote local independence, streamline state oversight and provide greater flexibility for cities and towns.
“This bill give our partners in local government the tools to operate in a more effective and efficient manner,” said DiDomenico. “By increasing flexibility and removing unnecessary burdens on our cities and towns, I am confident that this legislation will provide municipalities with the tools needed to best serve our residents and help communities across our Commonwealth prosper.”
The bill eliminates or updates obsolete laws that no longer serve a meaningful purpose, including the repeal of county government finance reporting requirements and changes to the civil motor vehicle infraction law to allow cities and towns to issue citations electronically.
The bill promotes local autonomy for cities and towns, allowing for more control over certain funding decisions and local regulations. For example, the bill allows municipalities to enter into joint powers agreements to provide services regionally and reduces the state’s role in setting liquor license quotas for on-premises drinking.
The bill also streamlines state oversight of many tax collection procedures to make the process more transparent and predictable for local officials.
Finally, the bill takes steps to provide municipalities with greater flexibility, including a study on double utility poles, changes to procurement laws to simplify, clarify and increase thresholds for construction contracts and updates to the way municipalities use parking revenues, to allow for use on a wide range of transportation-related issues.
A conference committee will now resolve the differences between the Senate and House versions of the bill.