House Bill 3588, known as the Green Ticket Bill, passed in the Massachusetts House of Representatives on Thursday by a vote of 143-1. The bill now goes to the State Senate, where it appears to also have broad support. The Green Ticket Bill adds some teeth to tickets issued by Code Enforcement for violations of trash regulations. Currently, these $20-$40 tickets largely go unpaid with estimates of up to $5 million in unpaid fines. The Green Ticket Bill would automatically add those fines to the property owners tax bill.
In his maiden speech in front of the House, State Representative Aaron Michlewitz, championed the bill. Michlewitz, a North End/Waterfront resident, represents the 3rd Suffolk District. The text of his speech is shown below.
Thank You Mr. Speaker and through you to the members.
I rise in support of House Bill 3588, An Act relative to unpaid municipal fines, affectionally known by some of us as the Green Ticket Bill.
The Third Suffolk District, which I represent, is not only one of the most historic districts in the Commonwealth, but it is also one of its most diverse.
I have quickly learned that 10 different downtown neighborhoods with 10 different distinct voices can make it tough for anyone to find common ground across the board.
But one item that rings true whether you are a life-long resident of the North End, a new family moving into the South End, a young professional up on Beacon Hill or, for that matter, anyone across our Commonwealth, an enhanced quality of life is something that everyone strives for.
House Bill 3588 is a meaningful attempt to tackle this issue by better regulating the trash that is put out onto our streets.
This trash does not necessarily come from the restaurants in the North End, Chinatown or the South End. This garbage doesn’t always to come from the tourist walking along the Freedom Trail. Instead a large portion of it comes from the residents themselves that choose to ignore the rules and regulations set by the City of Boston.
As it stands, if trash is put out improperly, then the City can issue a citation in the form of a “green ticket”. Each municipality has its own method, but none have a method to collect on those fines.
This act equips those municipalities by providing an opt-in system that would more adequately enforce the rules. This act does not change the existing policy of how violators are issued those citations, it just finally puts some teeth into those tickets.
If a violator, after an appeals process, does not choose to pay his or her fine, then the bill will roll over onto the property owners’ property taxes the following year.
This would assist with the attempt to chase absentee landlords that are usually the biggest violators.
Just in the City of Boston alone, a three-year period ending last year saw only 45% of citations having been paid out and close to 5 million dollars in fines remain uncollected to this day.
Since we are at point in time where we are watching our cites make cut after cut and many of us are crying out for new revenue, it would be irresponsible for us not provide them with the necessary tools to collect on revenue that is currently sitting on the table waiting for us.