Proposals aimed at public school achievement, public safety reforms
Mayor Thomas M. Menino presented the City’s legislative initiatives for the 2013-2014 session Jan. 15 and asked for the support of Boston’s state delegation. The legislative package prioritizes initiatives to boost student achievement in Boston Public Schools, reforms to the state’s firearms background check and gun offender registry systems, and a bill to address the next phase of sentencing reform. Mayor Menino thanked the delegation for last session helping to pass his municipal health care reform act, slowing the growth of employee health care costs by more than $70 million.
“Today, I’m asking for the state delegation’s support of legislation that will make our schools stronger and our neighborhoods safer,” Mayor Menino said. “There is nothing more effective than when the Boston Delegation is united on an issue, and we need to stand together to fight for common sense reforms and innovative solutions that will help not just the residents of Boston, but residents of the entire Commonwealth.”
Filing 24 new bills in a total package of 49, Mayor Menino’s key focuses for the 2013-2014 session are promoting public school success and making communities across the Commonwealth safer through gun and sentencing reform. The Mayor’s proposal to boost student achievement and improve quality choices for Boston families would extend “turn-around” powers and support grants to Level 3 schools, including High-Support Schools; eliminate the cap on In-District charter schools; extend the school day for additional instruction and professional development; and level the playing field for charter schools and District schools.
As Co-Chair of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, Mayor Menino has been at the forefront of national gun violence prevention and is also calling for stronger gun laws in Massachusetts. Working with Governor Patrick, Mayor Menino is again filing legislation that would close loopholes that allow people with mental illness to purchase handguns without detection by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). The proposal would bring Massachusetts into compliance with NICS, and require courts of the Commonwealth transmit all required mental health records to the criminal justice background system for the purpose of firearms licensing. The Mayor will also file an act to establish a gun offender registry, modeled after Megan’s Law, which would require defendants convicted of specified gun crimes to register their addresses with police.
As a follow-up to the habitual offender legislation that passed last session, Mayor Menino will file a bill to address the next phase of sentencing reform. The bill aims to ensure strict enforcement for the most violent repeat felons, while also providing adequate rehabilitation for those demonstrating readiness to rejoin their communities as productive members of society.
Mayor Menino’s new proposals also include an act to allow for municipal innovation through procurement reform, granting municipalities the authority to select partners quickly and work with them to scope projects, rather than have terms defined through a conventional RFP. Other new legislation includes an effort to fix problem properties, improve programs for homeless families, and a bill that would help facilitate the growth of food enterprises in the Commonwealth.
As in past years, Mayor Menino continues to push for legislation that would provide concurrent jurisdiction for both the State Police and Boston Police in order to improve public safety and coordination in Boston’s growing South Boston waterfront; and will work closely with environmental advocates on legislation to update the Commonwealth’s bottle bill.
With the support of the Boston delegation, Mayor Menino succeeded in passing a number of important initiatives last session, most notably an act to reform municipal health care. Mayor Menino will finalize the City of Boston’s legislative submissions for the Legislature’s filing deadline on January 18.