New rules, new committees for Boston City Council
January 26, 2018
One notable change made was regarding public testimony procedures. In previous years, public testimony was taken at the end of Council hearings, following the main discussion between Councilors and panelists. Following some large hearings in 2017 constituents voiced concerns of not feeling heard or being able to testify after lengthy hearings that would sometimes last three hours or more.
In an effort to address these concerns and increase public participation in hearings, the amended rule requires that the Chair of a Committee allow some testimony from the public, in the order in which they sign in, at the beginning, middle and end of a hearing that is expected to last three hours or more. It will be at the discretion of the Chair to determine the appropriate time and how many individuals may testify at the beginning and during the hearing, with the remaining individuals being allowed to testify at the end of the hearing.
President Campbell said, “I think we all heard concerns from the public that people often come and attend our hearings and when they last three, four, five, six or seven hours long they get frustrated that they have to wait until the very end of the hearing to offer public testimony. This rule will change that.”
Another rule change was in regard to Committee names and the addition of new Committees.
The Special Committees on Civil Rights and the Community Preservation Act are now Standing Committees.
The word “military” was added to the Committee on City, Neighborhood Services and Veterans Affairs, now making it City, Neighborhood Services and Veterans & Military Affairs. Councilor Flynn, who is the Chair of the Committee, said the addition of the word “military” allows the committee to expand its focus to include active members of the military and their families, in addition to veterans.
“Parks” was added to the Committee on Environment and Sustainability, now making it Environment, Sustainability and Parks. The Planning and Development Committee will now be Planning, Development and Transportation.
The City can also look forward to matters coming from two new Committees: Census and Redistricting and Small Business and Consumer Affairs. For more information on Committees, the Chair and their members, click here.