The Philadelphia Water Department is just one of the many city agencies that has a long set of regulations. Photo by Flickr user @ezraw, licensed by Creative Commons.
After a hearing Monday on a bill that would require city agencies to post any and all regulations online, there will be a council-wide vote next week, said Jennifer Kates, legislative aide to councilwoman María Quiñones-Sánchez.
As of now, city law says that any public notice must be given through The Legal Intelligencer, which is the city’s official legal newspaper, and the city’s largest daily newspaper, the Inquirer. For years, there has been discussion nationwide about the eventual move of these public notes — which can include agency rules and city code — to online environs, which allow more space, more access and easier, historical record.
Accordingly, odds are ever-increasing that a concerned citizen would want to turn to their computers for access to city regulations, which will now be available on the city’s website Phila.gov. The amendment was introduced by Councilwoman María Quiñones-Sánchez (D-7th District).
“Citizens have a right to know about proposed regulations that could impact their lives or businesses. Putting the full text of proposed and final City regulations online will make it easier for citizens to access this important information, and to know about opportunities to provide input,” wrote Quiñones-Sánchez in an email correspondence with Technically Philly.
Quiñones Sánchez was surprised, she said, to discover that indeed city regulations were not all easily accessible under one internet domain.
“Many of the laws I pass as a Council member require that City departments adopt regulations to implement them, and I also receive questions from constituents that can only be answered by looking at these regulations,” she said. “We have made great progress under Mayor Michael Nutter towards greater open data and government transparency, and I am glad to further that progress with this bill.”
Practically speaking, this amendment will help anyone who has questions on most any city matter, from the their water bill to zoning issues. Plus, as we have reported, “city departments only have to hold hearings on proposed regulations if someone requests one, according to the city charter. In other words, the only way the public would ever get a chance to have a say is if it knows what’s going on.”
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