Our Opinion: Public records reform in state may be up to public


The long knives are out for the effort to reform a Massachusetts public records laws that is among the worst in the nation.

A joint legislative committee in July passed a strong bill that would, among other provisions, provide easier access to records by the press and public, put a cap on fees that can be charged for collecting and copying records, allow attorney and court costs to be recovered if records are wrongly denied, and instituting fines if the law is broken. With the legislative session ending Wednesday, however, the bill is stuck in the House, where Speaker Robert DeLeo is no ally of reform.

This week, according to The Boston Globe, the state police went to Mr. DeLeo to express concerns about the bill. This is the agency that asked an attorney to pay $2.7 million for access to breath test results available for free in other states. The Massachusetts Municipal Association is opposed because of alleged cost concerns that don't confront their counterparts in other states.

The MMA simply doesn't want to be bothered, and the state police and other law enforcement agencies are accustomed to and protective of their secretive ways. The 2016 ballot initiative reform effort begun by Secretary of State Bill Galvin may be the only route to public records reform in Massachusetts, a state that likes to keep its voters in the dark about their own business.


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