Pioneer Urges Gov. Baker to Take Bolder Action on Public Records Reform

Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Share on
LinkedIn
+

Update: Pioneer Institute delivered a letter to Governor Baker on March 13, 2017, following up on its September 21, 2016 letter, requesting that he issue an executive order or memorandum ending the Governor’s exemption from public records laws.

Governor’s Office in Massachusetts is one of only a handful to claim full blanket exemption from public records laws

Pioneer Institute has sent a letter to Governor Charlie Baker’s office asking that he extend his administration’s public records reform initiative to the Governor’s Office through formal means such as an executive order or a gubernatorial memorandum.  Such a bold act would be a win-win for the Baker administration and for the residents of Massachusetts.

Pioneer recognizes that the public records reform law Governor Baker signed in June – the first revision to that law since 1973 – was a significant step forward.

Nonetheless, both the Center for Public Integrity and The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press in recent years have ranked Massachusetts’ public records and open meetings laws among the weakest in the nation.  One of the reasons given was the Supreme Judicial Court’s 1997 ruling in Lambert v. Judicial Nominating Council, which has been interpreted as exempting the Governor’s Office from public records requests.

Since Lambert, every Governor has asserted that the state’s public records law does not apply to their office.  This reliance has become a bad habit that Pioneer believes Governor Baker can, and should, rehabilitate.

Pioneer argues that even though an executive action could be amended or rescinded, future Governors would come under intense pressure to stay the course.  It also believes that such a reform wouldn’t be overly burdensome since the Governor’s Office in Massachusetts is one of only a handful to claim full blanket exemption from public records laws, and about thirty other states have minimal exceptions to public records requests while managing just fine.

Pioneer Institute is an independent, non-partisan, privately funded research organization that seeks to improve the quality of life in Massachusetts through civic discourse and intellectually rigorous, data-driven public policy solutions based on free market principles, individual liberty and responsibility, and the ideal of effective, limited and accountable government.

Related Commentary on Government Transparency:

Open Letter to the Commissioners of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission

/
Gaming Commission's Enhanced Ethics Code On October 24, 2013,…

Gaming the Gaming Commission’s “Enhanced Code of Ethics”?

/
The Boston Globe published stories on November 21st and December…

Watertown Police Department stubbornly refuses electronic public records requests

/
Despite repeated appeals to reason and official state guidance,…

An anniversary you may have missed

/
With the acrimonious standoff in Congress bringing about the…

Lawrence’s Failed Public Pension System

/
by Guest Blogger Rohit Chaparala Pioneer’s newest transparency…

When Is a Tax Not a Tax?

When is a tax not a tax? When no one pays it. That’s basically…

Basic information about IEP access lacking in Massachusetts public schools

/
Individualized Education Plans (IEPs), geared at students whose…

Open the Boston taxicab “market” to competition

/
The Boston Globe's Spotlight team has done a great job uncovering…

What would you do with a half-billion dollars?

/
The next time you’re watching those dollars ring up at the…

‘Calling out’ the Secretary of State

/
Secretary of State Bill Galvin didn’t waste time when…

Pioneer’s Transparency Update: “Sunshine Week” Edition

/
With all the scandals that plague the Massachusetts State House,…

MassDOT won’t say who’s getting a free ride

/
Our Commonwealth’s toll system doesn’t appear discriminating…

Revolving Door on Beacon Hill, Healthcare Edition

/
It often goes unreported, but Beacon Hill does have a wide revolving door…

Lots of art, little science in transportation plan

/
Rich Davey’s attempt at recreating the magic of Steve Jobs…

I could support the bottle bill if…

/
Last year saw a lot of movement within the legislature on the…

SABIS Charter Lessons from Springfield

/
MassReportCards.com data show some surprising information about graduation and college attendance rates in Springfield.

Inefficiency at Wellesley Schools stifles transparency

/
Sometimes the smaller the bureaucracy gets, the more inefficient…

Stop grading Massachusetts transparency on a curve

/
As Pioneer's Steve Poftak has pointed out, the Office for Administration…