9 a.m. | It's back to school — almost — in Boston where Mayor Michelle Wu will discuss preparations for the first day back and paints crosswalks in school zones. | Trotter Elementary School, 135 Humboldt Ave, Roxbury
10 a.m. | Senate President Karen Spilka and other officials get a firsthand look at flooding damage affecting businesses in North Andover and opening a sinkhole in Haverhill. | Jaime’s Restaurant, 25 High Street, North Andover, and 5 Ford Street, Haverhill
10:30 a.m. | Gov. Maura Healey swears in new Suffolk County Register of Probate and Family Court Stephanie Everett. | Governor's Ceremonial Office
11 a.m. | LGBT pride is still going strong in Provincetown where Sen. Julian Cyr introduces 2023 the Carnival Parade Grand Marshal Jason Carter for a drag story hour. | Provincetown Public Library, 356 Commercial St.
5:30 p.m. | Boston Harbor Now hosts a night of free, family-friendly activities at Moakley Park, featuring dinner, yard games, music and art and crafts. | Moakley Park, 1187 Columbia Rd., Boston
6 p.m. | A Coalition of voting reform groups launch a campaign to implement ranked-choice voting in Boston municipal elections, where 62 percent voted in favor of implementing the system in a failed 2020 statewide ballot initiative. | Boston City Hall
In Massachusetts, home-rule petition shapes the local law of the land — a system that leaves cities and towns at the mercy of the Legislature when it comes to enacting everything from the mundane to major policy changes.
Local petitions can address a range of complex issues, such as whether a town should implement ranked-choice voting or legally recognize domestic partnerships of three or more people — as Somerville has and Arlington is considering. Boston has sent at least nine home-rule petitions to Beacon Hill this year — including ones proposing rent control, placing a 2 percent tax on some real estate sales and expanding the number of restaurant and bar liquor licenses, to name a few.
Filed an average of 150 days ago, all except one petition to give Boston a seat on an MBTA board, are still pending. An amendment to the just-passed budget gave the city a long-wanted seat on the transit oversight board, rendering the petition moot. Three Boston petitions have seen hearings, session records reviewed by MASSterList reveal. And high-priority bills that would give Boston the option to cap rents or tax high-dollar property sales to raise money for affordable housing are stuck in limbo until lawmakers decide to act.
Any home-rule petitions still stagnant come the end of the current legislative session next year will die on the vine and must be refiled to find progress in a new session. Like most other legislation, home-rule petitions get snagged in the snail’s pace of lawmaking on Beacon Hill.
A Boston City Council staff analysis found out of roughly 100 home-rule petitions Boston filed with the Legislature from 2011 to 2021, fewer than half became law. Successful petitions, puttered around Beacon Hill for about 10 months on average before lawmakers granted final approval.
Petitions finding eventual success tend to be administrative — similar to one currently lying in wait that would waive the 39-year-old age cutoff to become a Boston police officer — but for just one specific person. Unlike every current home-rule petition proposing substantive policy change, the petition dealing with police age requirement saw a quick hearing less than two weeks after its April 6 filing. Reported out of committee just over two months later, it is now poised for passage as it waits a third reading by the Legislature — one of few bills (home-rule or otherwise) to see progress at all in a session that’s so far been the least productive in roughly four decades.
By contrast, Boston Mayor Michelle Wu’s much-watched rent control petition — filed on the same April day, as the police petition — is still hanging in no man’s land awaiting a hearing before the Joiint Committe on Housing. Chairwoman Sen. Lydia Edwards of East Boston has loosely targeted October to open discussion on rent stabilization, a version of which the House shot down in 2020.
Housing advocates have pivoted amid lawmakers’ tepid reception of rent control, shifting focus to a petition for permission to tax high-dollar real estate sales to raise money for affordable housing. Boston and about a dozen other towns are behind it.
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