Philly Council begins term with flurry of bills, some of which may sound familiar

Pat Loeb
January 23, 2020 - 2:00 pm
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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Philadelphia City Council has been back in session for one day and already has dozens of bills and resolutions before it. 

Members wasted no time introducing legislation, much of it bills that died last session.

Allan Domb is taking another run at getting his colleagues to agree to ask voters to impose term limits on council — an idea that didn't go over well last year. He says he modified his earlier proposal and has more support this time.

"The last time we tried for term limits it was (after) three terms," he said. "This time, it's (after) four terms. And keep in mind, it excludes current members. It's only for new members starting Jan. 1, 2024."

Councilmember Derek Green, similarly, hopes for better results for his proposal to publicly finance political campaigns. He has also proposed a ballot referendum.

Related: Philly City Council plans to open new terms with lots of legislation

"We really want to get the input of the voters of Philadelphia, especially since 2020 is such a big year for elections," Green said.

There could be a lot of questions on the primary ballot. Newcomer Kathy Gilmore Richardson has also proposed a charter change to give civil service preference to graduates of city vocational programs. 

And charter changes are among the 11 bills that David Oh introduced — all of which were rejected in the previous term.

Among the new ideas introduced was a bill from Councilmember Cindy Bass that would ban wearing blackface in public — aimed at Mummers who persist in the practice despite widespread condemnation.

"If people decide to continue to participate in blackface, that's when we're going to go address the leadership of the Mummers organizations. You would start out with the individual but if the club does not police their (members), there should be penalties against the club as well," Bass said.

There were also several bills addressing the city's gun violence epidemic.

The Kenney administration, they say, has demanded a meeting with Mummers leaders over the New Year's Day incident in which two members of Froggy Carr wore blackface.

Gun violence was on a lot of Councilmembers' agendas, including Council President Darrell Clarke, who asked for funding to sue the state so the city can enforce stricter guns laws, such as mandatory reporting of lost or stolen guns.

"Something has to happen with this, it's unacceptable," Clarke said.

Newcomer Kendra Brooks proposed hearings on rent control, an issue she campaigned on. She says her victory as a third party candidate is historic and might not happen again, so she is eager to get started.