Prince Lobel Tye Media Law Partner Rob Bertsche, representing firm client New England Newspaper and Press Association, spoke at the State House concerning legislation that would ease access to public records.
Addressing the Committee on State Administration and Regulatory Oversight, Rob stated, “I’ve long been puzzled, frankly, that Massachusetts lags behind so many other states, and somewhat embarrassed, frankly, that Massachusetts lags behind so many other states in the strength of our public records laws and enforcement of them.”
Response times to public records requests has stretched far beyond the 10-day statutory deadline, the cost can be as much as $1 per page, and those responsible for complying with public records laws often have limited understanding of the law and work with little oversight.
Rob supports the recommendation that each agency appoint a person to handle public records requests, and “remove what can be a fraught decision for state workers who may not know the law.” Rob added, “I think fear is often what impedes compliance, not willful disregard of the law. It’s a lack of knowledge about what is the right thing to do: Are they really entitled to this document?”
Please click here to read the complete article, which explains the proposed bill and details its provisions.