Mass. House Prepared To Move On Public Records Reforms

After the issue stalled for months in a legislative committee, the Massachusetts House is prepared to move forward with a bill to reform the state's widely criticized public records laws.

The legislation seeks to reduce the costs charged to the public for accessing public records -- costs often set so high as to dissuade citizens and the press from seeking the records in the first place. It would also impose penalties on government entities that do not comply with the law.

While some municipalities and police agencies have expressed opposition to the changes, Speaker Robert DeLeo says progress has been made.

"This past week I've gotten most of the sides together and I think we're at the point now where it'll be ready when we go back into formal session next week," DeLeo said.

The House and the state Senate are expected to have two days of formal debate next week, before recessing until after the first of the year.

The Center for Public Integrity, in its new 2015 rankings released Monday, gave Massachusetts an "F" grade for public access to information, ranking the state 40th in that category. The center cited both the time it takes to get a response to a record request as well as the cost and availability of materials online as negative factors dragging down Massachusetts' score.

In July, Gov. Charlie Baker announced new rules designed to improve public access to information at state agencies.

With additional reporting by State House News Service and the WBUR Newsroom


Steve Brown Senior Reporter/Anchor
Steve Brown is a veteran broadcast journalist who serves as WBUR's senior State House reporter.



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