Lyons, Legislature Pass Public Records Reform Bill
Nov 19, 2015 10:11AM
● By Bill Gilman
State Rep. Jim Lyons, R-Andover.
State Rep. Jim Lyons (R-Andover) today joined the Massachusetts legislature in unanimously passing a long awaited public records reform bill.
The bill, H3858, updates the definition of public records to include electronic communications, creates a “Records Access Officer” to better facilitate requests, and installs legal safeguards to ensure greater accountability of government to the citizenry.
“I understand firsthand how frustrating getting public records can be. Since my election, the public records law has been one of the most effective tools I’ve utilized in my efforts to protect the taxpayers of the Commonwealth,” commented Lyons. “I’ve issued requests in order to investigate all manners of spending, and nothing is more exasperating than being stonewalled by uncooperative bureaucrats who seek to deny citizens documents to which they are legally entitled. This bill is a great start towards reforming the process and I am happy that we got it through before the winter break.”
One amendment that Lyons filed to the bill, Amendment #9, sought to remove language that exempts the Massachusetts House of Representatives and Senate from the Public Records law. “The legislature should be following the same rules as everyone else,” commented Lyons. “As a body, we should be committed to transparency at all levels of government, not merely in situations where it does not affect us personally."
The amendment was defeated on a party line vote 122-34.