Jul 20

It is expected that the Governor will shortly sign the compromise marijuana bill.  The conference report (H. 3818) has been enacted by both the House and Senate and sent to the Governor for consideration today. The Governor has 10 days to sign the bill, allow the bill to become law without his signature, send the bill back with amendments or veto the measure. As such, the bill could become law as late as July 30, a day before the first major deadline set forth in the compromise proposal. August 1 is the deadline to appoint the 25-member Cannibis Advisory Board.

Here are links to the text of H.3818, and a brief overview prepared by David Lakeman (Mass Municipal Association):

Text of Bill:  H.3818

Bill Overview: Overview of H.3818

Jul 06

Lisa Soronen, Executive Director of the State & Local Legal Center, with whom IMLA and MMLA often partner in municipal law advocacy, has authored a very informative series of articles on Supreme Court cases relevant to local governments from the term ending last week.  SLLC has graciously invited us to share this useful summary.   Click here access the full text of this series of articles.

Lisa Soronen
Executive Director
State & Local Legal Center
444 North Capitol Street, N.W., Suite 515
Washington, D.C. 20001
Phone: (202) 434-4845
Fax: (202) 737-1069
Email: lsoronen@sso.org
Website: http://www.statelocallc.org/

Jun 26

The SJC today issued its decision in George v. National Water Main Cleaning Company in which it held that “that, under Massachusetts law, statutory prejudgment interest pursuant to G. L. c. 231, § 6H, shall be added by the clerk of court to the amount of lost wages and other benefits awarded as damages pursuant to G. L. c. 149, § 150, but shall not be added to the additional amount of the award arising from the trebling of those damages as liquidated damages.” For the full text of the case, click on the following link: George v. National Water Main Cleaning Company

Additional Legal News from IMLA:   Continue reading »

Jun 23

The Supreme Court of the United States today issued its decision in MURR ET AL. v. WISCONSIN ET AL. CERTIORARI TO THE COURT OF APPEALS OF WISCONSIN No. 15–214. (Argued March 20, 2017—Decided June 23, 2017).  Long awaited by municipalities throughout the country, the issues in the case afforded SCOTUS with an opportunity to revisit takings jurisprudence. The Court affirmed the “parcel as a whole” approach to a takings challenge in the context of zoning provisions triggering a “merger” of lots, and whether the application of merger provisions results in a compensable taking. Continue reading »

Jun 23

The Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) has extended the deadline until July 14, 2017 for submitting comments on Draft Guidelines (link is external) for calculating the 40B general land area minimum.  Here is the link to the draft guidelines:


Jun 22

The Attorney General’s Division of Open Government yesterday issued proposed revisions to the Open Meeting Law Regulations (940 CMR 29.00-29.10), and is inviting comments prior to the public hearing on the proposed revisions now scheduled for August 3rd.  The text of the proposed revisions are now available on the Attorney General’s website, in both “clean” and “redline-strikeout” formats.  For the full text of the notice issued by the Attorney General, click on AG Request for Comment OML Regs

Feb 14

The Office of the State Auditor has determined that portions of the state’s Early Voting Law imposes an unfunded mandate on local governments.  In its February 14th press release, the Auditor’s Office reported:   “Auditor Suzanne M. Bump today released a determination that certain early voting costs incurred by local clerks should be paid for by the Commonwealth. Bump’s Division of Local Mandates (DLM) conducted the review and made the determination in response to petitions from the City of Woburn and the Town of Oxford.  The early voting law certainly is to be regarded a success. It did, however, mandate new procedures for clerks. Some of these should be paid for by the state, not municipalities according to the Local Mandate Law.”  Click here for the full text of the Auditor’s announcement.

Dec 19

On December 16th, the Secretary of State released its final version of regulations intended to implement the major changes in the state Public Records Law enacted by the Legislature during its last session. Chapter 121 of the Acts of 2016 made major changes to the public records statutes which until then had remained substantially unchanged for many years, rendering them very much out of sync with contemporary electronic means of records creation, transmission, use, retention, access, and disposal. Click here to view the full text of the new regulations, which go into effect on January 1st.

Substantively, the new statutory and regulatory provisions govern the process by which state agencies and municipalities respond to and process public records requests, including detailed specifications of the charges that may be imposed on the requester. MMLA and MMA will be co-sponsoring a workshop at MMA’s Annual Meeting & Trade Show on Jan. 21 on the requirements of the law and regulations, as well as best practices that cities and towns can implement to facilitate compliance with the new rules. MMLA is in the process of fashioning informational guidelines for city and town officials including best practice in complying with the revised public records statutes and regulations.

Dec 05

Massachusetts Municipal Lawyers Association (MMLA) has issued an appeal to Governor Baker and other State House leaders to promptly clarify through legislative action certain features of the recently enacted marijuana law that relate to actions municipalities are authorized to take.  The urgency is particularly telling given that many towns are already started – or about to start – preparing their warrants for the spring annual town meetings.  To view, click on the following link to the Letter to Governor Baker.

Also, MMLA issued two informational advisories on the new law.  Click on the following links for the Advisory for Municipal Counsels and for the Advisory for Municipal Officials. Feel free to share these with your local officials. 

These documents are the product of a working committee created by the MMLA Executive Board last month.  The committee will continue to work on these issues and will be issuing supplements to its advisories. Please contact MMLA with any particular issues or concerns you have with this new law. Also be advised that a program on the new law is being planned for early next year.

Aug 17

MMLA Member Joe Cook from Northampton notified us of an interpretation of the Attorney General relating to “pre-engineered buildings.”  He writes:

G.L. c. 149, Section 44 E allows a simpler RFP format procurement of modular buildings when compared to the ordinary c. 149 design/bid/build regime typically used for traditional  on-site building construction.  The application of the modular RFP format to pre-engineered metal buildings such as Butler Buildings and Star Buildings, which are largely manufactured in a factory and only assembled on site, has been a question in Northampton and perhaps in your city or town.

We have the official word from the Attorney General’s Office:

 “Effective for Requests for Proposals for Design or Construction Services issued after October 1, 2016, the Attorney General’s Office will not consider a “pre-engineered” building, including metal buildings such as Butler and Star buildings, to be governed by the Modular Building Law, M.G.L. c. 149, sec. 44E(4).  Pre-engineered buildings should be procured through the regular procurement process outlined in M.G.L. c. 149, sec. 44A-J.  If you have any questions, please contact Assistant Attorney General Deborah Anderson at 617-963-2371 or Deborah.Anderson@state.ma.us.”

Aug 12

An important decision of the Appeals Court appears to be the first Open Meeting Law case under the new law from an appellate court.  Congratulations to MMLA member Thomas Mullen, Esq., Lynnfield Town Counsel, on successfully defending the Town against an open meeting law violation. In Three Registered Voters vs.  Board of Selectmen of Lynnfield [Docket 15-P-936], released August 22nd, the Court addressed the level of detail required for the OML notice.  Continue reading »

Feb 26

[2.26.16] – The zoning reform bill – Senate 2144 (formerly Senate 122) – was this week reported favorably out of the Joint Committee on Community Development and Small Businesses and is now in the Senate Committee on Ways & Means.   This is exciting progress—we are one important step closer to our goal of making the first significant reforms in our planning, zoning and subdivision statutes since the 1970’s!   The Community Development Committee Co-Chairs, Senator Kathleen O’Connor-Ives and Representative Ann-Margaret Ferrante, and their staffs, have worked hard on this bill.  We are grateful that they took the time to review the bill in depth.  There was one change made to the bill that would allow property owners could use the “approval not required” process to create two roadside lots a year, in the event a municipality adopts minor subdivision.  MMLA has joined other advocates for zoning reform in analyzing the amendment and plans to discuss that issue, and others, with Senate Ways & Means in the coming weeks.  Here is a link to the full text of the bill: S.2144

Aug 31

On August 27th, MMLA joined with Massachusetts Smart Growth Alliance and the Zoning Reform Working Group in a letter to Speaker of the House Robert DeLeo with a detailed response the position taken by the Homebuilders Association of Massachusetts on the zoning reform bill HB 1859.  The letter describes the position of HBAM as focusing on “the dysfunctional state of land use law in the Commonwealth and its negative effects upon housing production and economic development.”   The letter to Speaker DeLeo goes on to say:  “On that we are in agreement. However, HBAM would leave the status quo intact rather than pass a bill that aims to correct many of the underlying problems, a bill supported by a diverse coalition ranging from municipal lawyers, to environmentalists, to city, town, and regional planners, to public health professionals, to affordable housing advocates.”  Read the full text of the Letter to Speaker Robert DeLeo.

Aug 08

MMLA President Ed Pikula congratulates Jim Lampke following announcement.

MMLA Executive Director Jim Lampke is to be awarded the Charles S. Rhyne Lifetime Achievement in Municipal Law Award by the International Municipal Lawyer Association (IMLA) when it meets in October in San Francisco.  The Rhyne Award is considered by municipal lawyers from the United States and Canada to be the municipal law equivalent of the Heisman Trophy.  IMLA is a non-profit, professional organization of municipal attorneys from the United States and Canada, an advocate and resource for local government attorneys since 1935, when the organization was founded by the late Charles S. Rhyne.


Jim Lampke says he is humbled by being chosen for the Charles S. Rhyne Award.

IMLA explains that the Rhyne Award is the highest award given by IMLA: “The award is not intended to be bestowed in a regular basis, but rather is intended to be a recognition bestowed only occasionally and then only upon a truly uncommon individual.”   IMLA Executive Director Chuck Thompson, in an IMLA press release earlier today, announced Lampke to be that truly uncommon individual, by stating that “James Lampke is a gifted attorney and colleague.  Like Charles Rhyne, James is at the top of his field. His contributions to the Town of Hull and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts are of great importance, and they will leave a lasting imprint in the field of municipal law. Honoring him with this award will encourage other exceptional lawyers to pursue local government law.”

MMLA President, Ed Pikula,  City Solicitor of Springfield, announced Jim’s selection earlier today at an MMLA municipal law educational seminar in Sturbridge.

Aug 06

Bill Kelley, General Counsel of the Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission, after nearly 22 years serving state and local governments, has announced that he is about to fulfill his original career plan of working for the state for a couple of years and then moving on to private practice.   Although he is about two decades behind his timetable, his original plan will come to pass later this month when he officially steps down as General Counsel for the ABCC.  ABCC Chairman Kim. S. Gainsboro said that during his time with the Agency he “has been an invaluable asset” and “has assisted applicants, licensees, attorneys and local boards,” and “has been a vital resource to this Commission.  He will be sorely missed.”

ABCC General Counsel Bill Kelley receives 2011 President’s Award from Past President Stacey Bloom.

Bill is a recent recipient of MMLA’s “President’s Award” in recognition of his years of genuine interest in local government and history of providing guidance and assistance to city and town attorneys over the years.  With characteristic humility, Bill commented that he has “enjoyed a magnificent experience of working with city and town attorneys, and has learned more than he shared.”   He hopes to join us at one of our next upcoming meetings to reflect on his years with the ABCC and to share with us his plans for his ongoing legal career as it unfolds.

It’s fair to say that MMLA expects not so much to “miss” Bill as to see more of him in the years ahead.

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