Senator Lesser Votes to Modernize Government for Cities and Towns

Senator Lesser voted on July 13th for S. 2410, An act modernizing municipal finance and government, which passed the Senate unanimously. This bill, introduced by Governor Baker, aims to update laws, many of which are decades old, relating to cities and towns. It seeks to cut red tape for municipalities, eliminate unnecessary bureaucracy, and reduce the burden of unfunded mandates. “This bill will allow our cities and towns to work more efficiently and better serve our citizens,” said Senator Lesser. “It’s the 21st Century- our laws should reflect that. Modernizing must be a priority if we aim to make government work for people. ”

The sweeping legislation passed in the Senate today contains a number of improvements to the laws that govern the state’s relationship with cities and towns. It eliminates unnecessary oversight, makes it easier to regionalize certain services and updates outdated state laws.

The bill empowers cities and towns outside Boston to set their own quotas for liquor licenses. It reduces state oversight of municipal finances, including allowing deficit spending for cases of snow emergency. It further allows cities and towns to modernize certain services, like using electronic voter rolls rather than paper lists at polling stations.

The legislation repeals a law requiring the state to review the accounts of county treasurers, permits municipalities to deny local licenses and permits to any taxpayer who has neglected or refused to pay local taxes and who has not filed a good faith application for an abatement, permits municipalities to impose liens on property for unpaid fines, and allows cities and towns to require the use of direct deposit systems to pay employees, in addition to many other updates to municipal law.

Senator Lesser has worked on many initiatives aimed at modernizing and streamlining government. He co-sponsored the Innovative Communities Act; legislation that aims to encourage tech startups to partner with cities and towns on new ways to deliver services. Further, he published an op-ed last year on the importance of modernizing government.

The House and Senate will now work to reconcile the differences in the two bills before sending it to the Governor’s desk.