Massachusetts passes public records reform bill

The Massachusetts Senate unanimously passed a bill Thursday revamping the state’s much-maligned public records law, considered one of the least effective in the country.

The vote came after the House late last year passed a version of the bill seen by good government advocates as much weaker. Though the Senate engaged in a passionate back-and-forth on Beacon Hill on Thursday, and several advocates cheered the legislation’s passage, the more profound debate is likely to take place in a secret joint House-Senate conference committee. That group of legislators would hash out differences between the two chambers, probably releasing a final version of the bill in the summer.

Among other changes, the Senate legislation would mandate public-records point people at state agencies and municipalities, limit sometimes exorbitant fees, and require digital as opposed to paper responses. Continue…