Boston – The Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance released the following statement in response to legislation in Michigan that would subject both legislators and the Governor’s office to the state’s public records laws.
The bipartisan proposal has the support of leadership and is currently working its way through the legislative process. If signed into law, Massachusetts would be isolated as the last state in the country that excludes both the legislature and Governor’s office from Freedom of Information Act requests. For more on Michigan, click here.
“It shouldn’t be this hard, but it is. Other state legislatures across the country have all embraced transparency reforms to some degree. From Alabama to Wisconsin—every other state legislature in the Union will soon have a stronger public records law and more open and transparent legislative government than Massachusetts. Speaker DeLeo and Senate President Spilka are using their considerable political power to maintain this dubious distinction for our state and protect their offices from proper public scrutiny,” stated Paul D. Craney, spokesperson for MassFiscal.
In 2016, while in the legislature, then State Representative Jim Lyons (R-Andover) pushed an amendment during debate on the Public Records Reform Law that would have included the legislature and Governor within the purview of the legislation. His amendment was disingenuously ruled “out of scope” of the Public Records law and was denied a roll call vote. Lyons doubted the ruling of the Speaker, and a roll call was taken on that instead.
“Those of us who care about transparency from our lawmakers in Massachusetts are not much different than those in Michigan. The main difference is that our legislative leaders do not listen and actively oppose efforts to bring transparency to the process. They use their considerable clout to marginalize and diminish anyone that might upset a status quo with which they are overly comfortable,” continued Craney.
“Real change will only come when constituents start holding their local lawmakers accountable,” concluded Craney.