Advocates press Massachusetts lawmakers to work in public

Submitted by NFOIC on Thu, 09/13/2018 - 7:45am

Open government advocates on Wednesday called on lawmakers to make more government offices subject to the state’s public records laws.

Massachusetts is the only state where the Legislature, governor’s office and judiciary all claim to be exempt from the state’s public records law.

That has led open government groups and others to consistently label the state’s First Amendment protections the weakest in the nation.

A legislative commission created as part of an overhaul of the state’s public records law in 2016 is studying whether those exemptions should be lifted.

On Wednesday, a coalition of open government advocates — including the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, the Massachusetts Public Interest Research Group, and Massachusetts Newspaper Publishers Association — submitted a list of recommended changes to the commission they hope will spur new legislation to ease the restrictions.

“The public has come to expect a greater and greater level of transparency, because that is the world that we live in today,” Pam Wilmot, executive director of Common Cause Massachusetts, a member of the coalition, told the panel. “Yet our public institutional sometimes have a harder time adapting to that.”

Among the group’s recommendations: (Read more...)