Public records reform in Massachusetts has moved an important step in the right direction, as the Judiciary Joint Committee on State Administration and Regulatory Oversight today forwarded the bill with a positive recommendation. The reform package still faces a number of hurdles before it becomes law, but leadership in both the house and senate are in favor of modernizing the obsolete transparency law.
Among other important changes, the public records reform bill would provide attorney fees for people and organizations that successfully sue state or city agencies for records after having been inappropriately denied access. That’s a critical reform. Under current law, there’s little incentive for officials to cooperate with requests. And when organizations like the ACLU sue for records, we have to cover our own legal expenses even if we win.