Monday, in front of the State House as the Senate prepares to debate the budget this week Alex Vispoli, Republican candidate for the State Senate in the Second Essex and Middlesex district, endorsed Tom Keyes’ Legislative Integrity Plan.
“As a father I want my children to look up to their leaders. Right now Massachusetts government cannot be held in high esteem when the State House is plagued by repeated scandals and information is withheld from the public,” said Vispoli. “We need legislators who live by high standards and don’t try to skirt around our laws or break them. By creating more transparency and accountability, we will be preventing future scandals.”
“I am pleased that Alex Vispoli also recognizes the importance of demanding transparency at the State House. We need to elect more people who will fight for ethics reform. The people of Massachusetts deserve better,” said Keyes who is running against Senate President Therese Murray. Professionally Keyes is an ethics, compliance and efficiency consultant.
This week the Senate will debate the state’s $32 billion budget. According to Vispoli, it is not an open process. “Legislators are only given a few days submit amendments and then far too many of them are bundled so the public has no clue as to what is being passed. The budget is passed on to the conference committee with these huge bundled amendments to negotiate behind closed doors.”, Vispoli said. “The public is purposely kept in the dark.”
Not only does Vispoli want to clean up the legislative process but he also wants to improve transparency and the integrity of the legislature.
The Keyes to Good Government Plan includes:
1. End the legislative exemption from the public records law.
2. Prohibit the passage of controversial items at informal sessions. Once a Senator or Representative has submitted a written objection to the respective leaders of their chamber, then that item cannot be taken up during an informal session. In previous years, Senator Murray tried to push through the controversial wind energy bill during informal session.
3. Require the State Auditor to conduct a comprehensive audit of the legislature yearly.
4. Stop the bundling of amendments. This will create more transparency within the legislative process and within our state budgets.
5. End the legislative exemption for the Open Meeting Law.
6. End the legislative exemption from the Fair Procurement Law.
7. Require bills to be in print and online for 72 hours before voting on them. Last year the final version of the state budget was passed at the last minute. After it emerged from the Conference Committee, the bill was not in print for 72 hours.
8. Subject the judiciary branch to the public records law for administrative records only.
9. Require the Ethics Committee to be bi-partisan. Right now the membership of the Ethics Committee is bi-partisan but is dominated by the majority party. Keyes wants equal membership for the two parties. This will ensure accountability for legislators rather partisan, perfunctory investigations. As it stands now the committee is just a rubber stamp for the majority party.
10. Prohibit legislative members from serving in a leadership if he or she has been indicted. After Senator Jim Marzilli was accused of sexual assault, he was allowed to collect his extra pay as Chairman for months.
11. Require that committee votes are recorded and published online.
12. Prohibit felons from collecting pensions while incarcerated.
13. Reform the public records law so the Governor’s administration and state agencies have to comply not avoid it. The Pioneer Institute has long complained about the lack of compliance with the public records law. “Simple requests can take a year or more to fulfill, search and reproduction fees climb into the thousands of dollars and government offices claim dubious exemption all leaving the public in the dark and denying their basic right to know.”
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