The Road To Massachusetts Public Records Reform

In 2015, the Massachusetts legislature seriously took on the issue of reforming its woefully inadequate public records laws for the first time since the early '70s. But change does not come easily to the Commonwealth, and open gov advocates found themselves faced with an up(Beacon)battle over even the mildest of fixes.

Fortunately, if there’s anything fighting for transparency in Massachusetts teaches you, it’s how not to take “can we deal with this later?” as an answer.

15 Articles

Massachusetts municipalities still getting the hang of new public records law

In Massachusetts, if you’re unhappy with a response to a public records request, you can appeal it by submitting a petition to the supervisor of public records. And now, under the new public records law that took effect January 1st, municipalities and state agencies can also petition the supervisor for several reasons.

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In the Boston area? Join us for a free public records event

For years, Massachusetts has had a reputation for some of the country’s best universities, best sports teams, and worst public records law. Will the revisions that went into effect on January 1st finally change things? Join us February 2nd and let’s talk about it!

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MBTA secrecy obvious in abysmal appeals record

Financed in major part with state funds and crucial to the economic viability of the area, the MBTA’s centrality to life in a major East Coast hub makes it a crucial subject for information updates. Of course, don’t be surprised that getting records from them can also be a pain.

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Braintree Police make new strides in creative public records rejections

Massachusetts agencies can get very creative when trying to avoid complying with public records requests, but some deny requests with such complete disregard for reality that it’s (almost) impressive. Enter the Braintree Police department.

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So you won your Massachusetts public records appeal - now what?

In the Bay State, the grotesque black holes of bureaucracy sometimes take on an added Groundhog Day-esque tint. Like when your request is rejected. But you win your appeal. And then your request is rejected again.

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A look at Massachusetts updated public records legislation

In September, the Massachusetts Supervisor of Public Records released its proposed update to public records regulations that would be used to carry out the long-awaited public records reform that goes into effect January 1, 2017. Here’s what’s in them.

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What’s in Massachusetts’ updated public records law

Last month, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker signed into law H.B. 4333, providing significant process overhauls to a law that has not been changed much since 1973, when the law was reworked to more closely match the federal Freedom of Information Act.

Here is what you need to know about the changed law.

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@MA_Senate’s #PublicRecords reform debate

After months of hearings, editorials, and one very chilly rally on the State House, yesterday the long-awaited ‪Massachusetts‬ ‪Public Records‬ Reform bill passed the Senate with unanimous support. MuckRock’s Beryl Lipton was there, and she live-tweeted the whole thing, withdrawn measures and all.

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Massachusetts Senate prepares to weigh in on weakened public records bill

Beacon Hill has taken up the cause of public records reform for the first time in forty years. However, after the Massachusetts House passed a subdued version of the bill in November, initial hopes have given way to fear that this once-in-a-very-long-time opportunity for meaningful reform will be squandered. Until the Senate hears and votes on the bill early next month, it will be unclear how hard the Bay State will actually tackle opening the government this year.

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Massachusetts public records reform shouldn’t make delay the law of the land

Over the past few years, something unusual has quietly happened when it comes to public access: Small changes for the better. But while legislation passed by the House includes some great and much needed improvements, it fails to address - and in some case worsens - Massachusetts public records law’s problems, leaving the state dangerously behind its peers.

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Massachusetts Municipal Association vs. the People

While the people of Massachusetts look toward public records reform, the cities and towns that represent them are fighting back against access.

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Massachusetts, we need your help to save public records reform

As we’ve written about time and time and time and time again, Massachusetts has some of the worst public records laws in the country, with requesters waiting too long to pay too much to get too little. A bill currently under consideration could help change that, but it’s facing stiff opposition and needs your help.

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MuckRock’s testimony for public records reform in Massachusetts

MuckRock’s Shawn Musgrave testified today in support of two bills which would bring badly needed reform to the antiquated and toothless public records law in Massachusetts.

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With Massachusetts legislature back in session, a chance for public record reform in the Bay State

Legislatures across the country reconvened this week, and in Massachusetts, where a new governor is also part of the package, a fresh attempt at access reform begins.

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Commonsense updates needed for Massachusetts public records law

MuckRock was proud to testify at the Massachusetts Statehouse on Tuesday in support of amendments to the state public records law, which was written in a pre-Internet era when printing cost 20 cents per page. The proposed amendments will streamline public records requests and incentivize agencies to cut costs.

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