Written by Stephen Godin
Although Massachusetts sits among the top states in our country for metrics like healthcare and education, we have the dubious honor of being the worst state in the country in terms of government transparency.
The reasons are clear. Our state government has exempted all branches of government from public records laws, meaning we have no right to know what our government officials are doing in Massachusetts. Moreover, our representatives in the State House vote every session against basic transparency rules such making committee votes public, effectively barring their voters from knowing how they vote.
To emphasize a point here: These are not radical, first-in-the-nation transparency laws. These are the standard laws and rules that virtually every other state government operates under except Massachusetts, which has embraced the radical stance that voters don’t need to know how their representatives vote.
So this past month, when our South Boston representative, David Biele, voted against allowing us to see how committees vote on legislation, I was disappointed in his lack of leadership on this issue. Given the fact that approximately 90% of bills filed in the house will never be voted on, but will instead die quietly in committee, these rules mean that we the voters will never know how Mr. Biele will vote on the vast majority of bills.
I believe representative Biele should explain to us, his constituents, why he feels that we don’t deserve to know how he and his fellow representatives vote in committee. What, exactly, are they so afraid of us seeing?