Massachusetts took a step closer to improving its public records law when the Judiciary Joint Committee on State Administration and Regulatory Oversight reported favorably on H.3665 (An Act to improve public records). The bill next goes to the committee on House Ways and Means and we need your help in making sure it passes.
Massachusetts’ public records laws rank 39th and received an F in the Center for Public Integrity’s rankings.
As Common Cause notes, this bill would:
- Allow courts to award attorney’s fees when agencies block access to public information, giving “teeth” to enforcement and promoting compliance with the law and bringing our laws up to the standards of most other states;
- Make records affordable, with only nominal costs that aren’t large enough to actually inhibit access;
- Promote electronic distribution of public records, and make more public documents available online;
- Designate “records access officers” in government agencies, streamlining the access process and reducing bureaucratic complexity by assigning responsibility for answering requests.
The ACLU of Massachusetts, Common Cause Massachusetts, MA Newspaper Publishers Association
and the New England First Amendment Coalition have done great work advocating for this bill, but we need to help them get this bill passed.
Take a moment and tell your state representative and senator that they need to pass this bill. Those who oppose greater government transparency and accountability are trying to kill this bill. We have to stop them!