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 Public Safety
In which City Council attempts to add more criminal laws to the books.
Responsibility to Avoid Possession and Discharge of Firearms by Children
This bill is aimed at tightening gun control laws in Philadelphia. First, it would require all guns “sold, owned, or carried” to have a trigger locking device. Second, it would require any guns or ammunition stored in a home with a child under the age of 18 to be stored in a lock box.
Cutting Weapons in Public Places
Taubenberger, Domb, Jones, O'Neill, Gym
It is currently illegal to carry a “cutting weapon” (e.g. knives, swords, etc.) on public streets in Philadelphia unless it’s one that is commonly used in a person’s work while that person is engaged in that work (e.g. a box-cutter for someone who stocks shelves in a grocery store). This bill would completely exempt emergency personnel who work for the Fire Department, whether they are on-duty or off-duty.
In what is likely a measure to prepare for the DNC, Council is looking to “decriminalize” disorderly conduct. Currently, state law makes things like public drunkenness, obscenity, and more a summary offense – which is a criminal offense that goes on your record, and you’d have to report it as a conviction to employers. This bill would allow Philly police to instead charge it as a code violation, which is basically a really expensive parking ticket that doesn’t go on your criminal record.
Committee on Finance
Looks like we’re back to using uncollected taxes to fund the schools. Council wants to authorize a committee to investigate ineffective enforcement of the liquor-by-the-drink tax in hopes that they can find some money to send to the schools. Council will also be addressing PGW’s budget.
Committee on Licenses and Inspections
Gender Price Discrinimation
This bill would forbid dry cleaners from charging different prices for cleaning similar articles of clothing based on gender. In short, it should cost the same to dry clean a woman’s suit as it should a man’s, all else being equal.
Business Owners Responsible for Nuisance Behavior
Bass, Jones, Blackwell, Henon, Squilla
This bill would hold business owners responsible for “nuisance behavior” occurring on their premises. Such behavior includes illegal drug activity, sidewalk obstruction, public urination, and more. In addition to fines, a business would be subject to having its Commercial Activities License revoked.
Committee on Rules
Lots and lots of teeny-tiny zoning changes.