News and Notes

Amendment Proposed to Boston Trust Act

A new draft of amendments to the “Boston Trust Act” has been submitted by Mayor Martin Walsh and City Counselor Josh Zakim in relations to a City Ordinance that delineates the work of law-enforcement officials in relation to federal immigration enforcement.

Originally passed by the Council and signed by the Mayor into law in 2014, the proposed amendments will further clarify the role of Boston police officers, prohibiting them from acting as federal immigration officers.

The suggested changes also prohibit police officers from sharing information with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Apparently, the Mayor and Counselor worked with the community, immigration advocates and the Police Department to update the Trust Act in a way that will clarify even further the role of police officers on this matter.

Mayor Signs Carbon Standard Executive Order

An executive order requiring all new municipal buildings to target a zero net carbon standard in the City of Boston.

New municipal building construction will have to be below energy and fossil-free, while meeting its annual energy needs for a mix of on and off renewable energy assets.

This action aims to accelerate Boston’s leadership in climate action.

 Transfer Fee on Real Estate Sales

Months of collaboration between the Boston City Council and Mayor Martin Walsh, formal support of a proposal to implement a transfer fee of up to 2-percent on the purchase price of any private real estate seal over $2 million in the City, as a means to generate additional funding to create and preserve affordable housing.

The Home Rule Petition past at the Council’s final meeting of the year.

 Grant Awards for Census Coordination

Thirteen local non-profit organizations have received grants ($5 to $10 thousand) from the City of Boston to conduct an outreach for Census Day on April 1, 2020.

The groups will work to increase the participation in the Census through planning and grassroots strategies that will educate, raise awareness, immobilize involvement in communities at high risk.

Boston’s population is important and is reflective of the City’s character and reflects representation and services.

Apparently, Boston is ranked the ninth hardest City to count of the 100 largest in the country.

 MassDOT Awards IRAP Grants

Nine grants, totaling more than $2.7 million from the Industrial Rail Access Program (IRAP) have been granted to enhance rail and freight access, economic opportunity and job growth by MassDOT.

IRAP is a competitive state-funded public-private partnership program that provides financial assistance to eligible applicants to invest in industry-based rail infrastructure access improvement projects. Applicants must match public funds with private funds, with private funds paying at least 40% of the project’s total cost, and several of today’s awardees will match more than the required minimum.

“This funding will help the state-wide rail and freight industry build and repair infrastructure,” said Gov. Charlie Baker. “These public-private partnerships will help expand and increase efficiency of operations, providing long-lasting benefits for local economics and the state as a whole.”

Local Wetlands Ordinance Signed

Taking another step to protect Boston against the impacts of climate change, Mayor Martin Walsh and the Boston City Council have signed the City of Boston Local Wetlands Ordinance.

The ordinance gives the City greater authority to protect wetlands, which are crucial to controlling flooding and protecting neighborhoods and green space.

It also directs the Boston Conservation Commission to consider future climate impacts like rising sea levels and applications for new developments, constructions or special projects.

 Minimum Wage Raised to $12.75

Low-wage workers in Massachusetts, in 2020, will get a raise as the state’s minimum wage will raise from $12.00 to $12.75 an hour.

This is the second of five annual increases laid out in legislation passed in 2018 that will eventually bring the minimum wage to $15.00 an hour in 2023.

In 2017-2018 the Raise Massachusetts Coalition collected 346,000 signatures to qualified paid leave and $15 minimum wage questions on the ballot.

In June 2018, the Legislature passed it and the Governor signed it into law.

The bill will also raise the sub- minimum wage for tipped workers to $5.55 in 2021, $6.15 in 2022 and $6.75 in 2023.

Reportedly, nearly one million Massachusetts workers, more than a quarter of the state’s workforce will benefit from the full increase.

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