Power of Culture Blog
Mass Cultural Council has been tasked with the enormous and amazing direction to equitably invest almost $100M in state dollars into the cultural sector this fiscal year!
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The Massachusetts Legislature works in a two-year cycle, and the current 2021-2022 legislative session is nearing the end. However, Mass Cultural Council is extremely pleased and grateful to our partners on Beacon Hill for continuing their efforts to bolster the cultural sector during this normally quiet period in the State House.
On November 4 both the House of Representatives and Massachusetts Senate enacted, or gave final legislative approval, to our legislation, H. 3378, An Act expanding membership opportunities in local cultural councils. Once a bill is enacted, it moves to the Governor’s desk for review and final approval. On November 10 Governor Baker signed the bill into law, thereby completing our efforts to secure a technical correction to the existing Local Cultural Council (LCC) statute and make it clear that most residents interested and willing to serve on their LCC can do so, even if they hold another elected local or regional position.
This new law, Chapter 266 of the Acts of 2022 specifies that only “the mayor of a city, the city manager in a city having a Plan D or E form of government, the board of selectmen of a town or the executive officer in a town having a town council form of government shall not serve as members” of an LCC. Prior to this fix, state law prohibited all “elected public officials” from serving on their LCC.
While Mass Cultural Council believed that restriction was appropriate for chief municipal decision makers, like mayors, city councilors, and select board members, we were concerned that the law also prevented those who are elected to serve in other local and regional capacities — like town meeting members, school committee members, local assessors, and library trustees — from serving on their LCC. In smaller, rural communities this severely limited the number of residents willing and able to serve as an appointed LCC member. Our Community Initiative team members who work closely with the Local Cultural Council network reported concerns with LCCs who were unable to properly convene and conduct their important business because they had issues assembling a quorum, which is required for public meetings.
Mass Cultural Council is truly appreciative of Rep. Ken Gordon, a former LCC chair in Bedford, and former Sen. Adam Hinds, the lead sponsors of H. 3378 and its companion bill, S. 2243, as well as Tourism, Arts and Cultural Development chairs Sen. Ed Kennedy and Rep. Carole Fiola who worked behind the scenes to advance this proposal, and our 27 legislative co-sponsors who went on record in support of this technical correction:
The new Act becomes effective 90 days after the Governor signed it into law, in February 2023.