Municipal Governance Bill Passed

Timilty Joins Senate Passing Bill to Preserve Municipal Governance

BOSTON (June 8, 2020) – State Senator Walter F. Timilty joined his colleagues in the Massachusetts State Senate and the Massachusetts House of Representatives passing a bill Thursday, June 4, 2020, to provide governance and fiscal flexibility for many municipalities grappling with public health challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“So much has been halted and disrupted by COVID-19. In the three months since the state of emergency was declared, it is clear we all must continue to follow safety protocols established during this health crisis,” said Timilty. “This bill allows representative town meeting to occur, though virtually, thereby containing the potential spread of this virus. Safety is our primary concern in helping local government serve its residents.”

Building off of other legislation that gave municipalities operating flexibility during the ongoing COVID-19 public health crisis, the bill further protects public health and preserves the town meeting structure from continued disruptions caused by the state of emergency.

The bill includes the following provisions:

· Permits representative town meeting to take place virtually;

· Permits quorum reduction for open town meeting to no less than 10% and extends the quorum reduction to representative town meeting;

· Allows town meeting to be held outside the geographic limits of the town; and

· Permits a municipal election scheduled through June 31 to be extended to August 1 at the latest.

By providing municipalities with this much-needed flexibility, the bill preserves public access to the proceedings of town governance and protects the public from the continued health risks associated with the COVID-19 outbreak.

The bill also provides city governments with fiscal relief by allowing mayors to delay their normal budget submission deadline for FY 2021 in light of the state of emergency.

Finally, among other provisions, the bill strengthens the prohibition on terminating essential services for residents during the COVID-19 emergency and provides municipalities and regional school districts flexibility in paying school bus and other vendor contracts.

The bill was signed into law by the Governor on June 5, 2020.

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