Senate Panel Advances Bill to Overhaul Public Records Laws

massachusetts-state-house-300x198BOSTON (AP) — Government watchdog groups are praising the Senate version of a bill to revamp the state’s public records laws.

The bill approved Thursday by the Senate Ways and Means Committee aims to make it easier and less expensive for citizens to access public records. Lawmakers say it would update rules established in 1973, before most records were even stored electronically.

The full Senate is scheduled to vote next week on the bill, a similar version of which passed the House last fall.

Pam Wilmot, executive director of Common Cause Massachusetts, says the Senate goes further than the House by requiring that legal fees be awarded to people who successfully challenge denials of public records requests.

The Senate bill also shrinks the window of time state agencies and municipalities would have to respond to requests.

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