Springfield, Mass., City Council Punts On Plastic Bag Ban

Mar 19, 2019

A push to limit plastic bags hit a snag in Springfield, Massachusetts, after city councilors declined to advance an ordinance.

The measure cleared an initial legislative hurdle earlier this month. But at a meeting Monday night, councilors voted to hold a committee meeting before making a final decision.

Councilors expressed several different concerns with the proposal.

For Kenneth Shea, it was a matter of stopping government overreach.

“This is a very minor thing in the realm of restrictions, saying the government’s going to regulate plastic bags,” Shea said. “But each time we do that, we give away more rights, and this gets carried out in our society.”

Under the proposed ordinance, businesses doling out plastic bags would receive a $50 fine for a first offense, and $100 for repeated offenses.

Body cameras

Springfield's City Council has approved a contract with the police supervisors union. The vote ended a three-year stretch in which sergeants, lieutenants and captains in the department had no labor contract with the city.

The contract clears the way for a body camera program.

Asked by a councilor when officers will begin wearing the cameras, Springfield budget director Lindsay Hackett said that's still up in the air.

“I know there’s no specific date yet as when this will be implemented,” Hackett said. “But we have contracted with a consultant, and we do have a [request] for information about cameras, so we’re moving.”

Negotiations between the union and the city had grown contentious at times.

Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno called union members "unreasonable" in a statement last month as talks temporarily fell apart.

Jobs for city residents

Springfield may begin holding housing developers responsible for hiring more city residents for construction projects.

That's after the City Council advanced a measure requiring developers who receive local tax breaks to ensure at least 35 percent of the work done by contractors is completed by Springfield residents.

Councilor Orlando Ramos said he proposed the ordinance after a developer that received tax incentives was able to get around hiring and wage requirements in two existing ordinances.

“The Silverbrick [Lofts] project that we approved last year was not covered by either one of those,” Ramos said. “And because of that, when we found all of those violations on that project, unfortunately, there was very little recourse that we could take.”

City councilors have to vote in favor of the proposal twice more before it can be signed into law.