BOSTON – Representative Steve Ultrino (D-Malden) joined his colleagues in the Massachusetts House of Representatives to pass the first major overhaul of the state’s public records law in over 40 years.
Last year, Representative Ultrino provided testimony in support of the public records bill, which he also co-sponsored, to the Joint Committee on State Administration and Regulatory Oversight. The final legislation was approved this week by both the House and the Senate.
This bill include updates on the fees and costs that government agencies can charge for public records that are requested as well as allowing municipalities to adjust the timeframe for them to produce the records. In addition to this, records access officers are allowed 15 days after the initial request to produce any of the records that were requested to the agency. The bill also gives courts the power to award reasonable punitive damages to people who were wrongly denied access to any public records.
“This new law reaffirms our belief that transparency and good government are fundamental parts of our democracy, and that our public records law should meet the needs of the 21st century,” said Representative Steve Ultrino. “The Internet Age has created more opportunities for citizens to interact with their government, and this law will ensure that governments are stepping up to the challenge.”