Our fight for democratic integrity on Beacon Hill has become more dire since our founding in 2019. In 2023 alone, we've seen the Senate strip away term limits for their president, the House reject a measure to make their committee votes public without a recorded vote, and Governor Healey reject a slew of public records requests, breaking her campaign promise to abide by public records law. That's why we're taking our fight beyond just the session rules.
Enter: The Sunlight Agenda!
The Sunlight Agenda is Act on Mass' legislative agenda to restore democratic integrity on Beacon Hill. We have compiled a package of four bills put forward this session that would address our democracy crisis and improve transparency, accountability, and fairness on Beacon Hill. Email your legislator today to ask them to cosponsor these good governance reforms.
Sponsor: Senator James Eldridge
This comprehensive bill would take several long-overdue steps to shedding light on the processes of the State House. This bill would require all recorded committee votes to be posted on the legislature’s website within 48 hours of a vote (with exceptions during the last 2 weeks of the session). Furthermore, it would require committee hearings to be scheduled at least a week in advance to ensure that folks who have childcare needs, inflexible work schedules, and other barriers to access, are given a chance to participate in the legislative process. Testimony from those hearings would also be made available upon request, with redactions for sensitive personal information to protect individuals. Finally, this bill would require the Governor’s office to abide by public records law (PRL). Massachusetts is the only state in the country where the Legislature, Judiciary, and Governor’s office all claim exemption from PRL.
Sponsor: Senator Rebecca Rausch
Similarly to S. 1963, S. 2064 would bring Massachusetts in line with the majority of the country by subjecting both the governor and the Legislature to PRL. Applying retroactively, this bill would make public all materials and data made or received by the governor and Legislature, with provisions to protect sensitive personal information and to exclude communications with constituents.
Sponsor: Representative Erika Uyterhoeven
Open Meeting Law (OML) is a policy already in place for the vast majority of governing bodies in the state. Designed to promote transparency across a number of state-level meetings and to include the general public in the decision-making processes, the legislature has historically exempted itself from OML. Under existing OML provisions, the public is permitted to attend meetings of public bodies besides the Legislature, namely all 351 municipal governments. This bill would extend that democratic privilege to constituents wishing to monitor legislative proceedings of the State House.
Sponsor: Senator John Keenan
Last year, Senate staffers announced they had successfully formed a union and asked Senate President Spilka to voluntarily recognize them. Months later, the Senate refused to recognize the union, claiming that the hurdles to formal recognition are too high. With reports of underpayment and unequal payment, long hours, racial and gender discrimination, lack of access to health care, and more, State House staff deserve the right to collectively bargain for better work conditions. We owe it to those who keep the State House running to be paid and treated fairly.
Acton Democratic Town Committee
Martha's Vineyard Democratic Town Committee
Braintree Democratic Town Committee
Holden Democratic Town Committee
Billerica Democratic Town Committee
Harvard Democratic Town Committee
Boxborough Democratic Town Committee
Maynard Democratic Town Committee