State House Votes Down Transparency Amendment Despite Overwhelming Popular Support
Posted on 24 Feb 2021
This afternoon, following a contentious debate, the MA State House voted down an amendment filed by Rep. Uyterhoeven of Somerville to the joint rules (H.68) that would have ensured committee votes and testimony be made public. This amendment (#8) would have mirrored the proposed Senate rules, with the clarification that study orders would also be made public. Despite enormous constituent support, the amendment failed, with only 36 representatives voting in favor. For volunteer organizers with Act on Mass’ Transparency is Power campaign, the vote came as a disappointment.
“It’s shocking that many of the arguments against the amendment blamed constituents for our lack of understanding of how the State House functions when that’s precisely what we are asking for: to stop being shut out of the legislative process. This vote was a blatant signal that representatives care more about power than their constituents,” said Ryan Daulton, a Campaign Manager with Act on Mass.
The vote puts the deep disconnect between voters and their representatives on full display. Over the past few months, volunteer members of Act on Mass have organized themselves in 100 districts alongside dozens of advocacy organizations to meet with their representatives. The consensus is clear that this amendment (#8) barely scratches the surface of the popular demand for State House reform.
“This afternoon, constituents watched as the representatives that we elected to represent us voted against a simple transparency measure that would allow the public to see how our representatives vote in committees” said Brenna Ransden, a volunteer and constituent in the 12th Worcester district. “In the recent election cycle, State House reform dominated the platforms of primary challengers. This issue is not going away.”
Over 1,500 calls, tweets, and emails were made to representatives in the past 48 hours. While the amendment did not pass, the new rules the House has already agreed to are a small step forward. That would not have happened without the massive outpouring of support from people all across the Commonwealth. Says Daulton, “We look forward to that movement continuing to grow in the lead up to the House taking up rules again in July. We look forward to having collegial and productive discussions with the representatives who were not yet ready today to persuade them to vote yes in the future.”
Act on Mass is the leading organization advocating for transparency and accountability in the Massachusetts State House. In November of 2020, they launched their Transparency is Power campaign to organize behind three transparency amendments to the State House rules order that have large public support in Massachusetts. The campaign has received the endorsement of dozens of advocacy organizations, and the support of over 2,500 volunteers in over 100 districts across the commonwealth.
To learn more about Act on Mass, go to www.actonmass.org.