Victory! Governor Baker Signs Public Record Reform Into Law!

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Statement by Pamela Wilmot, Executive Director of Common Cause Massachusetts, on Governor Baker Signing Public Records Reform

“We are extremely pleased that Governor Baker today signed the public records reform act, recently passed by unanimous votes in both chambers of the legislature. This reform has been a long-time coming and is critically needed. There have been far too many instances of agencies and municipalities flouting the rules without repercussion, charging excessive fees, not responding to requests, or fulfilling requests only after months or years of delay. This reform will fix most of those problems. It will add teeth to the law and enhance enforcement by providing attorney’s fees for those wrongfully denied public records, set new enforceable timelines by which citizens will get their records, and provide cost controls to reduce excessive fees for access to public information. The new law will also bring us into the 21st century by requiring more information to be provided digitally, as well as making sure information about public records requests is tracked and made public.

The Massachusetts public records law has repeatedly been cited as one of the worst in the country. One of our agencies even won the “Golden Padlock” award for being the most secretive agency in the nation, beating out even the federal Department of Defense. 

As the cradle of liberty, Massachusetts should lead the way on openness and transparency, not lag behind the rest of the nation. The law Governor Baker just signed will help us catch up and begin to take our rightful place among those states that highly value and promote transparency.”