Millennials Won — Mark Squilla’s “Promoters Bill” Is Dead

Councilman Squilla is axing his proposal to collect musicians' addresses and numbers for police.

Mark Squilla

Councilman Mark Squilla | Photo courtesy of City Council’s Flickr

City Councilman Mark Squilla has decided to scrap his virally unpopular “Promoters Bill,” which came under fire last week from musicians, millennials and First Amendment advocates. The proposal would have required music venues to collect the names, addresses and phone numbers of performers for city police.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reported Tuesday that Squilla “had planned to amend the legislation, but decided it was too tainted by controversy” to carry on. “There’s been so much confusion and misinformation about the bill,” he told the newspaper, “that even if we struck that out, some people would show up to oppose it not understanding what they were opposing.”

Squilla says he’ll start from scratch on a new bill, this time while consulting the music industry. He insists that his goal all along was to ensure that every venue in the city paid an annual $100 licensing fee, including those that stream music from iPhones.

Inquirer columnist Mike Newall wrote earlier this week that the quick death of the Promoters Bill shows that “in 2016, in Philadelphia, millennials are not a constituency you mess with.”

I’m not sure I’d go quite that far. But I do think it proves, yet again, that young Philadelphians can be an effective political force when they mobilize. The episode calls to mind the 2014 War Against Pop-Up Beer Gardens. When state legislators wrote to the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board to express “grave concern” over a loophole that enabled beer gardens to exist, millennials and other critics inundated their offices with phone calls. Lawmakers quickly backed off.

Despite their passion for these and other issues, most young Philadelphians don’t vote in municipal elections. In last year’s mayoral primary, only 12 percent of registered voters between the ages of 18 and 34 came to the polls. Millennials remain an underpowered and underrepresented group in Philly politics, and yet they still pack a punch from time to time. It makes you wonder what would happen if more of them started voting.