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Latest updates from Act on Mass and the fight for transparency in the State House
Our View: Applause to DiZoglio for legislative audit
The Eagle Tribune
Mar 10, 2023
“Not only is (the audit) necessary, but it is very timely,” Erin Leahy, executive director of Act on Mass — a coalition of progressive groups and unions — told Statehouse reporter Christian W. Wade. “The Massachusetts Legislature is consistently ranked as one of the least transparent in the country, and that has deep and material consequences for the strength of our democracy.” She’s right. The public needs and deserves information about how its business is done, and an audit can help shed light on that process.
‘It’s a significant risk.’ Weeks into term, Diana DiZoglio’s move to audit Legislature marks a political gambit.
Matt Stout, Boston Globe
Mar 10, 2023
The advocacy group, Act on Mass, on Wednesday applauded DiZoglio’s move to audit the Legislature, arguing that an independent look into its workings is “timely,” given, in part, a recent Senate vote to [strip away term limits](https://www.bostonglobe.com/2023/02/09/metro/with-zero-public-debate-mass-senate-votes-abolish-term-limits-chamber-president/?p1=Article_Inline_Text_Link) for the chamber’s president. “We urge the Auditor to consider this worrisome anti-democratic trend during the course of the audit,” said Erin Leahy, the group’s executive director.
Senate President reacts to DiZoglio's announcement she'll audit the state legislature
Karen Anderson, WCVB
Mar 8, 2023
Leahy said the audit is long overdue, especially with the Massachusetts Senate recently voting to remove term limits for its President, and the House continuing to keep all committee votes out of public view. "The truth of the matter is only a few people in the State House are deciding which bills will pass and which bills will not pass. These are happening in closed room decisions, not really on the floor with vigorous debate and with limited input from the public and unfortunately, very little accountability to the public."
Dizoglio launches audit of state Legislature, first since 1922
Christian Wade, The Eagle Tribune
Mar 8, 2023
Groups that have pushed for more transparency on Beacon Hill welcomed DiZoglio’s audit, saying a review of the legislative process is long overdue. “Not only is this necessary, but it’s very timely,” Erin Leahy, executive director of Act on Mass, a coalition of progressive groups and unions. “The Massachusetts Legislature is consistently ranked as one of the least transparent in the country, and that has deep and material consequences for the strength of our democracy.”
The state Senate goes astray on limits for its leader
Boston Globe Editorial Board
Feb 20, 2023
Without a predictable periodic turnover in leadership, there is less opportunity for advancement. In those circumstances, power flows from the members toward the leader and his lieutenants. The greater need to curry favor to advance to a more coveted position encourages legislative toadyism.
Why transparency and small 'd' democracy are tough sells at the Mass. State House
Erin Leahy, Senator Becca Rausch, and Representative Erika Uyterhoeven interviewed by Adam Reilly, GBH
Feb 17, 2023
The Mass. Legislature doesn't see the world like the rest of us — and it doesn't have to
Adam Reilly, GBH
Feb 16, 2023
Every now and then, the Massachusetts Legislature sends the rest of us a reminder that it is, for better or worse, an alternate dimension — one governed by its own logic and sensibilities, and whose occupants aren't overly interested in squaring their own worldview with everyone else's.
New House Rules Increase Access but Reject Committee Transparency
Amelia Roth-Dishy, The Provincetown Independent
Feb 15, 2023
“A dimension that gets lost is that this is about making our representative democracy actually work the way it was intended,” Leahy said. A lack of transparency disempowers not just constituents but rank-and-file representatives who fear going against leadership, she said. “Everything is just in lockstep,” said Northeastern journalism Professor Dan Kennedy. “With the leadership as powerful as it is today, rank-and-file members who might be supportive of open government are reluctant” to say so publicly.
President-for-life? State Senate removes term limits
Matthew Medsger, Boston Herald
Feb 9, 2023
According to Leahy, the change will allow a long-serving president to set the agenda for lawmaking in the state with few speaking in opposition. “Once leadership makes a decision, the members tend to fall in line. The culture of hierarchy and retaliation was on full display during this vote; only three Democrats were courageous enough to vote against this power grab, and none spoke on the floor in opposition. Let’s be clear: term limits aren’t about any one senate president,” she said. “This is about sharing power. This is about ensuring that, through their elected officials, everyday people are able to have a voice in their government."
With zero public debate, Mass. Senate votes to abolish term limits for chamber president
Matt Stout, Boston Globe
Feb 9, 2023
The proposal had drawn opposition from good government groups and advocates, who argued term limits help usher in new ideas and serve as a check against potential corruption. “This is definitely a bad day for democracy on Beacon Hill,” said Erin Leahy, executive director of the group Act on Mass, which has pressed for more transparency in the Legislature. “To see the last of the Big Three that had term limits lose that safeguard portends a regression in . . . democratic values on Beacon Hill that I think everyone should be concerned about.”
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