Voters Deserve To Know
State House Transparency Pledge
Massachusetts’ legislature is one of the most secretive in the country. Important progressive legislation is killed year after year in back rooms without any public record. But together we can change this. We can ask our elected legislators to take action to create transparency today so important progressive bills don’t die in darkness.
The Voters Deserve to Know Pledge:
As a Massachusetts state legislator, I believe in a strong democracy, accountable government, and active voter engagement. Therefore, I pledge to:
- Make all my committee votes publicly available upon request, including electronic polls and study orders
- Move to make public all votes and testimony of committees of which I am Chair, including electronic polls and study orders. If the committee rules prevent me from doing this, I will motion to amend the rules to make all votes and testimony public, and ask for a roll call vote on that motion.
- Stand for roll call when a member asks for a recorded vote on any bill or amendment which I have co-sponsored or which deals with substantively the same issue as a bill I have co-sponsored.
Printable version: CLICK HERE
Has Your Rep Signed On?
- Rep. Mike Connolly (D-Cambridge)
- Rep. Nika Elugardo (D-Jamaica Plain)
- Rep. Tami Gouveia (D-Acton)
- Rep. Jonathan Hecht (D-Watertown)
- Rep. Jack Lewis (D-Framingham)
- Rep. Denise Provost (D-Somerville)
- Rep. Maria Robinson (D-Framingham)
- Rep. Lindsay Sabadosa (D-Northampton)
- Rep. Patrick Kearney (D-Scituate)
- Rep. Natalie Higgins (D-Leominster)
- Rep. John Rogers (D-Norwood)
- Rep. Russell Holmes (D-Boston)
- Sen. Jamie Eldridge (D-Acton)
- Sen. Becca Rausch (D-Needham)
Why a Pledge?
The pledge provides clear, verifiable demands that will increase transparency now, not at some vague point in the future. Most of the things voters are commonly encouraged to ask their legislators to do have serious limitations:
- Co-sponsor legislation - A Legislator can say they support a bill by co-sponsoring it, but that does not actually make the bill more likely to pass. It is well known that some legislators even lobby in secret against bills they have co-sponsored.
- Listen to public testimony - You can take a day off from work or school to come to the State House and testify in favor of legislation, but what actions are those legislators taking after you leave?
- “Fight for” an issue - Legislators often say they are fighting for an issue, but what concrete steps are they taking?
- File amendments - Legislators can always amend bills before they are voted on, but such votes are incredibly rare and happen so quickly (usually within 24 hours), that there is little time to inform or engage the public.
The long-term solution is rules reform: In January 2019, progressive Reps filed and voted on rules reform for the MA House of Representatives which would make committee votes & testimony public, and make the State House more transparent. In 2021, when the House votes on rules again, we need our Reps to change the rules. But we cannot afford to wait until 2021. There are important progressive bills that will die in committee again like they have for the past ten years unless we change the culture now.
The pledge will lead to immediate changes in how the State House functions and bring some of the desperately needed transparency we need today.
The goal of the Pledge is to be:
- Verifiable by the public
- Accessible and easy to understand to voters
- Impactful in collectively improving legislators’ behavior
- Effective in putting pressure on leadership to shift the broken culture of legislating behind closed doors and preventing the public from holding their legislators accountable
Does your organization want to endorse the pledge? Please click here.