Published On: Thu, May 26th, 2016

Tell Governor Baker to sign public records reform bill

Dear Governor Baker,

Please sign H.4333, the public records reform bill passed unanimously by the House and Senate.

This legislation will improve freedom of information in Massachusetts, and it is long overdue. Our existing public records law, which hasn’t been updated since 1973, fails to fulfill its promise of open and transparent government. Massachusetts has consistently received F grades for our extremely weak law, and it’s time to turn that around.

I know your administration prides itself on its commitment to improving freedom of information. It has issued important guidance to modernize access to public records and reduce delays and costs that burden accessibility. Many of the principles you’ve promoted are reflected in the bill that is now before you. I hope you will follow through on your commitment by signing this significant legislation into law.

The legislature has sent you a strong and balanced bill. It has the potential to significantly improve access to public information in the Commonwealth by ensuring that access to public records is real and affordable, and that government entities meet the law’s requirements. The bill includes sensible limits on fees charged for public information and reasonable timeframes for responding to requests. And it would bring Massachusetts into the mainstream on enforcement by allowing courts to award attorney fees when the law is violated — like 47 other states and the federal FOIA law.

It’s time to improve openness and transparency in Massachusetts. Please sign these critical reforms into law without delay!