Published On: Mon, Oct 26th, 2015

It's time for a vote on public records reform

In light of the consensus that our public records law is broken and that the legislature needs to fix it this session, I’m disappointed that it’s nearly November and we’re still waiting for a vote.

This issue is too important to ignore. It gets to the heart of government integrity and responsiveness to the concerns of its citizens.

I know lawmakers have heard vocal pushback from opponents of reform who either don’t want to follow the law or, at the very least, do not want a real enforcement mechanism. That’s not ok.

It’s time to guarantee that the public’s right to government information is more than mere words on paper. We need to bring our law in line with 47 other states and the federal FOIA statute. When a person is unlawfully denied access, then forced to spend time and money to go to court, and the lawsuit leads to the information being turned over, courts must be allowed to award attorneys’ fees. It’s a basic enforcement mechanism that promotes compliance.

Public records reform has waited long enough–since 1973. High costs and zero accountability have made Massachusetts notorious and earned us an “F” grade. Ignoring this problem will not make it go away.

Please urge leadership to pass a strong bill without delay.