Bill that would expand Framingham Board of Health moves forward in Legislature

The Massachusetts Statehouse. (Photo by Ana Goni-Lessan/BU News Service)

By Haley Chi-Sing
Boston University Statehouse Program

BOSTON – Framingham lawmakers are hopeful that a proposal to expand membership on the city’s board of health from three to five will “go through smoothly on the Senate side” following action in the Statehouse last week.

According to state Rep. Maria Robinson, D-Framingham, the proposed change in the city charter meets the community’s needs and wants.

The legislation, presented by Robinson and state Rep. Jack Patrick Lewis, D-Framingham, won near final approval in the House. The Senate has placed the bill in the Orders of the Day for its next session.  

The proposal has also received community support.

“I know that there have been a couple issues in the past with ensuring that there were enough people to meet quorum on the Board of Health,” said Robinson. “So by expanding it, it will allow for a larger base, so that you can more expeditiously make some decisions relating to public health.”

The consideration to add seats to the city’s current three-member Board of Health arose back in March and has since been sponsored as a charter change by Robinson and Lewis on the city’s behalf. The expansion would not only provide additional support for the Health Department but increased COVID-19 relief as well, the legislators say.

Framingham Mayor Yvonne Spicer said she supported the proposed board expansion, saying it will “increase the board’s capacity to promote public health, facilitate having a quorum, and will increase the number of voices at the table when considering complex health concerns in our diverse community.”

If the charter change succeeds in overcoming its legislative hurdles, the mayor will appoint two new board members to serve one- and two-year terms, respectively. 

“I am grateful to my colleagues for supporting the quick movement of this legislation,” Lewis said. “I look forward to Framingham soon having a robust, five-person Board of Health.”

This article originally appeared in Metro West Daily News.

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