Mass. House to vote on public records reform on Wednesday

Lawmakers will not be able to debate, or make changes to the bill

BOSTON (WWLP) – The state has not updated its public records law in more than forty years. Several state lawmakers told 22News this bill will modernize the way government stores public information, and how you can access it.

The Massachusetts legislature may vote this week on a major overhaul of the state’s public records law. State Senator Don Humason (D-Westfield) said the bill would make it easier for the public and the media to access government records, such as payroll reports and emails.

He said, “It puts information up on websites. It makes it more easy to access by consumers and constituents everywhere. It really does modernize and hopefully make more transparent our government.”

The House and Senate bill would have state agencies fulfill requests within fifteen days. City and town clerks, twenty-five days. For the first time, people would be able to recover attorney’s fees when they obtain public information through lawsuits.

Worthington state Representative Stephen Kulik told 22News the bill looks to minimize the financial impacts on communities with fewer than 20,000 residents.

“Small towns will be able to charge the time of the person providing the public records from the moment the request starts, so the first two hours, and I think that’s important for small towns,” said Rep. Kulik.

Lawmakers will not be able to debate, or make changes to the bill. It requires either an up or down vote.

House lawmakers will likely pass the public records reform legislation on Wednesday.

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