Editorial: Records access reform an important step toward progress

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Few things, if any, are more fundamental to the notion of a democratic form of government than the people’s right to know what has been done on their behalf.

It is with this in mind that we endorse the House and Senate’s recent compromise bill that overhauls public records access for the first time since 1973.

It may soon be easier for the public -- and the media -- to gain access to public documents in Massachusetts.

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It may soon be easier for the public — and the media — to gain access to public documents in Massachusetts.

According to State House News Service, the bill (H.4333), “[i]n addition to requiring state agencies and cities and towns to designate records officers to field requests, the proposal requires public agencies to provide requested public records within 10 business days, while allowing for extensions beyond that deadline capped at five business days from the original request for a state agency and 15 for a municipality. The bill further caps the length of appeals if records are denied and requesters appeal to the Secretary of State.”

It also “encourages public agencies to make electronic public records more readily available to requesters when records are already in electronic formats, and limits the costs public entities may charge for making copies or for employee time spent assembling records.”


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