Wonder what City Council has been up to since Election Day? It’s surprisingly difficult to find out. The 17 Council members meet every week of their five month session, often to consider important legislation that could affect every resident of the city. Here, your guide to what’s happening at City Council this week, what bills they’re discussing, why they matter and what we can do about them.
Committee on Law and Government
Credit Report Employment Discrimination
Greenlee for Clarke
Philadelphia has a robust Ban-the-Box law which prevents employers from using a job applicant’s criminal history against them unfairly. Much like criminal records, employers also use an individual’s credit history to determine if they think they’re a worthy applicant. While employers argue that such checks are necessary, there are many out there who take serious issue with the practice, arguing that it just creates another unnecessary barrier to employment. This bill, if approved, would prevent employers in Philadelphia from using an applicant’s credit history when making hiring decisions (subject to certain exceptions for specific types of jobs).
Committee on Finance
U&O Tax Exemptions
Henon and O'Neill
Back in August 2015, Amoroso’s Bakery announced that it would be closing its South Philadelphia operation, moving it and its 200 jobs across the river to New Jersey. Perhaps in an attempt to lure them back, this will would exempt any new bakeries, confectionaries, and other similar plants from the Use & Occupancy tax for 10 years after they begin operations.
Full Council Meeting - Budget
This meeting is technically a continuation of the May 11th budget hearing. The same bills are up for discussion. For a review of those bills, see our roundup from last week:
Full Council Meeting - Public Comment on the Soda Tax
At long last, your chance to tell council what you think about the soda tax! Although this hearing is technically about the School District budget, the soda tax implicates pre-K education, so it will be an allowed topic of comment. As of now, this is the last opportunity to publicly comment on the soda tax or the budget in general.
Full Council Meeting
The main event at this hearing will be two resolutions – which in this case are nonbinding and simply express the opinions of Council – aimed specifically at Superintendent Bill Hite. The first, which is sponsored by a majority of Council, asks Hite to “negotiate a mutually agreeable new contract with the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers” that maintains seniority and step pay. Taking a fully pro-PFT stance, the resolution admonishes Hite and the School Reform Commission for all manner of things. The second, sponsored only by Councilmembers Gym and Blackwell, demands smaller classrooms and an end to split-grade classrooms.
Committee on the Environment
New Sustainable Businesses
This bill would exempt new businesses from the Business Income & Receipts Tax (BIRT) for three years for any new business that qualifies as “sustainable.”
Sustainable Business Tax Credits
This bill would take additional measures to incentivize sustainable business creation. First, it would eliminate the current cap on sustainable businesses, which currently is limited to 25 new businesses per year. The tax credit for those business would also double, from $4,000 to $8,000 per year.
Mandatory Installation of LED Lighting
Apparently, the City is still installing incandescent light bulbs in its new construction projects and renovations. This bill would finally put and end to that by requiring the use of LED lights in any major renovation or new construction project.
Committee on Public Health and Human Services
The only thing on the agenda is a resolution to authorize holding public hearings on the heroin epidemic. In other words, Council is going to vote on whether to agree to hold hearings to later decide if they want to do anything about opioid addiction.