Feb 04

February 4, 2016 – Earlier today, the Senate unanimously approved its version of public records law reform legislation that would establish tighter compliance time frames, create the potential for more litigation and impose greater limitations on record production fees than competing legislation passed by the House in November.   It is expected that the House and Senate plans will head to conference committee.  The Senate debated 64 amendments filed to the Senate Ways and Means bill released last week (S. 2120) – the list of amendments including the text and status of each can be found by clicking the following link:

https://malegislature.gov/Bills/189/Senate/S2120

For details of approved amendments, click on: 2120 Approved Amendments

Feb 02

SPECIAL LEGISLATIVE ALERT TO MMLA MEMBERS

[February 2, 2016]  –  The Senate Ways and Means Committee has released a bill – Senate 2120 – containing its proposed reforms to the Public Records law.  The Senate is scheduled to debate this bill on Thursday, February 4, 2016. Because of significant differences between the Senate bill and an earlier bill passed in the House – House 3858 – the bills may well end up in a conference committee to resolve those differences prior to the end of the current legislative session.

Although the Senate bill does have a number of improvements over the current public records law, several of its provisions are of great concern to our cities and towns and to the attorneys who represent or advise them. These concerns include unworkable time lines for response to public records requests, un-reimbursed search time, financial penalties including the award of attorneys fees and punitive damages, as well as a number of logistical deficiencies. Senate 2120 is an unnecessarily onerous and imbalanced law.

For further details relative to Senate 2120, see the following:

  • MMLA Legislative Alert to Mayors, Selectmen, Town Managers, Town Administrators, Municipal Attorneys, and Agency Counsels
  • MMLA Comparison of House and Senate Initiatives to Update Existing Public Records Law

We urge you to read these materials and share then with your local officials and others.  Urge them to contact their state house legislative delegation and echo our concerns.  Feel free to share the attachments.  It is critically important that local government concerns continue to be expressed to Beacon Hill.

MMLA remains committed to working to improve the public records law.   Please contact the MMLA office if you have any questions, comments, or information to share.

Jan 29

January 28, 2016 – The Senate is expected to debate and approve its version of legislation that would make various changes to the state’s public records law on Feb. 4.   Earlier today, the Senate Committee on Ways and Means released a competing version of reform legislation that would establish tighter compliance time frames, create the potential for more litigation and impose greater limitations on record production fees than competing legislation passed by the House in November.   This comes after several MMA and MMLA meetings with Senate leadership to highlight the benefits of the House’s balanced approach to compliance, timing and enforcement as a direct result of months of productive negotiations.

Like the House bill, the Senate bill (S-2120) would require that all cities and towns designate one or more employees as records access officers (“RAO”) by July 1, 2016 – the RAO shall at least be the clerk or their designee.  Unlike the House bill, the Senate proposal notably: Continue reading »

Jan 18

The Association will hold its next monthly meeting on THURSDAY, JANUARY 28, 2016 at the Hogan Center, Holy Cross College in Worcester. The evening’s program will be Fair Housing Law and How It Affects Your Community-Are You Ready Legally?

Reception will begin at 6:00 p.m. followed by dinner promptly at 6:30 p.m.  Dinner will be a delicious International buffet with a variety of choices. The meeting fee is $45.00, which includes dinner, program and materials for members current in their dues.  For members not current and non-member attorneys, the fee is $55.00.  If you have a special dietary need, please advise.  Please be sure to register by returning the registration form enclosed or contact the MMLA office at jlampke@massmunilaw.org, 781-749-9922, fax 781-749-9923You should also be receiving via email a notice to register for this meeting from Constant Contact.  If you are not receiving notices from Constant Contact please let us know and we will put you on their email list for MMLA/Constant Contact notices. Continue reading »

Dec 23

The MMLA Winter 2015-2016 Municipal Law Quarterly is now available in the Members Area of this website. This issue includes articles covering Administrative Searches; the proposed amendments to the Public Records Law; Counseling the Local Government Regulator in the On-Demand Economy; and other useful information for municipal attorneys.  To access this issue, go to the Members Area, and click on the Menu Option for the Municipal Law Quarterly.

Dec 07

[December 7, 2015] – Governor Baker had called for suggestions on modernizing municipal government.  Earlier today, the Governor filed his proposed bill.  It is titled “An Act to Modernize Municipal Finance and Government.”  It was filed with the House Docket #4338.  For further details, including the text of the bill and a section by section summary, see LEG-UP # 15-09. (Legislative Updates)

Dec 05

On December 2nd, Sec. Galvin indicated that he would drop efforts to push his public records reform ballot measure citing to uncertainty obtaining the requisite number of signatures and his confidence in legislative action on a statutory overhaul currently pending in the Senate.  December 2nd marked the deadline for proponents to submit at least 64,750 certified voter signatures to advance a ballot question.    Sec. Galvin filed the petition in early August citing to frustration with the lack of legislative action on a similar measure that languished in House Ways and Means after MMLA and MMA voiced concerns with several aspects of the reform package.  As reported previously, the House unanimously passed its version of the bill (H. 3858) last month that reflects certain MMLA comments to the bill – that legislation is currently pending in Senate Ways and Means and the Senate is expected to take action when the legislature returns for formal business in January.  Continue reading »

Nov 18

HOUSE PASSES PUBLIC RECORDS BILL 

[November 18, 2015] – Earlier today, the House unanimously voted (157-0) to engross the redrafted public records law reform measure released earlier in the day by House Ways and Means.  The House-backed legislation reflects the efforts of the MMLA and MMA to improve prior versions particularly in the areas of compliance and enforcement.  Only ten amendments were filed to the legislation almost all off of which were either withdrawn or laid aside.

MMLA has issued the following statement on the HWM Public Records Reform Bill (H. 3858):

“The Massachusetts Municipal Lawyers Association (MMLA) appreciates the thoughtful work of House leadership reflected in the redrafted public records bill released by House Ways and Means and expected to be debated by the full House later today.  The bill includes several concepts advanced by MMLA and MMA to provide greater flexibility and balance in order to improve the legislation for the betterment of all participants in the process.” Continue reading »

Nov 17

HOUSE TO DEBATE PUBLIC RECORDS BILL ON WEDNESDAY NOVEMBER 18th

[November 17] – Tomorrow, the full House is expected to debate public records reform legislation that has languished in committee since July. House Ways and Means is currently polling members on redrafted legislation that will be released in the morning around 10am. Amendments to the bill are due by 12:30pm. MMLA has worked tirelessly with MMA to improve the legislation over the past several months after succesfully delaying swift passage of the bill.  As action unfolds, please visit this page for updates.

Nov 17

[November 17, 2015] – On December 9th, The Public Law Section of the Mass Bar Association will host a mid-day seminar on Initiative Petitions.  For details, see: MBA Initiative Petitions

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