Public trust and citizen engagement is fundamental in a healthy government. Transparency engenders both.
The Massachusetts legislature is one of the minority of state legislatures in the country where open meeting law doesn’t apply. In fact, according to a 2011 study by the Reporters’ Committee of Freedom of the Press, it’s one of only 19 legislatures in the nation that isn’t bound to give the public access to its meetings.
Perhaps even more noteworthy, according to the same study, is that Massachusetts is one of only six states where state legislatures are not subject to both open meeting and public records law. In this day and age of transparency, we think more openness in the legislature will promote public trust and better engage citizens in the democratic process. In fact, we believe our state’s constitution confers us with the right to better access.
As in some other states, open meeting law, as it pertains to the legislature, could be modified to exclude party caucuses and other reasonable exceptions.
We have sent this letter to the Open Meeting Advisory Commission and will follow up on it with a letter to the Attorney General asking for an informal advisory opinion on the constitutionality of the legislature’s so-called exemption from open meeting law.