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Thursday, March 14, 2013
DISTRICT VIEW: Local officials see pro, con in Beacon Hill rules

Randolph — State Sen. Brian A. Joyce, D-Milton, said he supports current transparency laws and thinks they’re working well in the Commonwealth. He noted that Massachusetts was ranked fourth in the nation by MASSPIRG on its State Spending Transparency Report Card.

However, Joyce said improvements to the laws could always be made.

"We should never be content and need to keep working to make Massachusetts more open and accountable to taxpayers," he said.

Joyce said he does believe it’s sometimes necessary for legislators to meet in private caucuses when it involves matters that could potentially affect millions of people.

"As elected officials, we must take very public stances on, many times, very divisive and emotionally-charged issues," he said. "My ideas and stances are not etched in stone and set in me from birth, but are the evolution of speaking with constituents who are passionate about the issues and my colleagues. Just as I would never disclose what I talk to individual constituents about, I think the members need time to discuss and debate ideas and issues amongst ourselves in private before the debate is taken to the public arena on the Senate floor."

Randolph School Committee Chair and Randolph Town Council member Andrew Azer said he believes that the Legislature should follow the same open meeting laws as local and town governments.

"Public deliberation, transparency and oversight are keys to holding our elected officials accountable for their action and to create a responsive and effective government," he said.

Joyce said the state has made some much-needed updates to transparency laws over the last few years. Most recently, he said legislation was passed updating antiquated finance laws and implementing data-driven performance measurement requirements for all government agencies and programs to improve efficiency, transparency and accountability.

Joyce said he would like the public to understand there is a wealth of information available to them regarding transparency laws and encourages everyone to visit www.mass.gov/transparency for detailed information.

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