Statement: A win for government transparency

Media Contacts

BOSTON — The Massachusetts Governor’s Council announced Wednesday that it will resume livestreaming its meetings, a month after deciding to discontinue public presentation online. The change comes after MASSPIRG joined with civic, community, disability and news organizations in calling for the statewide elected body — which considers pardons and commutations and reviews warrants for the state treasury — to reverse its decision.

In response, MASSPIRG, ACLU of Massachusetts, Boston Center for Independent Living, Common Cause Massachusetts, Disability Law Center, League of Women Voters of Massachusetts, Massachusetts Newspaper Publishers Association and the New England First Amendment Coalition released the following joint statement:

“We applaud the Governor’s Council’s recent decision to resume livestreaming their meetings. Remote access has opened the door to civic engagement for many people who had previously been shut out. More transparent and accessible government means a stronger democracy for all; remote access should be made permanent and routine for all public meetings.”

To that end, our organizations support legislation to modernize the Open Meeting Law to make remote access for public meetings permanent and routine. H.3152/S.2082, currently pending before the Joint Committee on State Administration and Regulatory Oversight, would update the Open Meeting Law to permanently enable people to access and participate in public meetings remotely, in addition to the option of attending in person. 

While the current Open Meeting Law does not apply to the Legislature, but there’s no reason that can’t change with the times, too. The groups are calling on the Legislature to adopt joint rules that would enable members of the public to observe hearings and offer testimony by video, and ensure necessary technology is in place at the State House so that all Massachusetts residents can remotely access in-person legislative proceedings.