In his first year in the Massachusetts House of Representatives, Leo M. Birmingham didn’t just sit back and watch. He jumped right in and introduced a number of bills as well as a House resolve.
In fact two of his bills, House bill No. 842 to protects tenants from extortion and House bill No. 844 to provide for a discretionary stay of proceedings in certain cases of summary process, were enacted by the legislature. It was rare for a freshman representative from the minority party to get bills enacted in his first year.
In addition, Birmingham didn’t shy away from more controversial topics. He introduced House resolve No. 900 calling for an investigation into the state’s purchase of the financially troubled Boston Elevated Railway Company, which ran the transportation system of Boston. However, Birmingham's resolve didn't make it out of committee.
Set up back in 1897, the Boston Elevated Railway Company struggled to make a profit from the outset and complaints about its services mounted. By the 1920s, there was a move for the state to take ownership of the company. The state ended up taking over the company for a limited time through a state-appointed board of trustees, according to Massachusetts Politics 1890-1935 by Michael Hennessy.
The state also agreed that should the company not earn a guaranteed 6 percent dividends for stockholders, the cities and towns in which the railway operated could be required to contribute funds to make up the difference. “It was a great bargain for the stockholders but a poor one for the public,” observed Hennessy.