Massachusetts legislators’ end run around the Open Meeting Law

Massachusetts legislators last week pulled a fast — but legal — move last week when they delayed the deadline for allowing the sale of recreational marijuana. Voters sent a clear message when they passed the ballot question by a wide margin on Election Day. Given that Governor Charlie Baker, Attorney General Maura Healey and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh vehemently opposed the legislation,  the passage of Question 4 was a big deal.

Nearly 1.8 million people voted yes but only six legislators voted for the delay. More importantly, the public does not know the identity of those six state senators because the the legislation was passed during an “informal session.” Such sessions require only one Democrat and one Republican to vote although votes must be unanimous. Think about that: One Democrat and one Republican can introduce and pass legislation, but taxpayers will likely not know the identities of those people.

I don’t care about the delay nor do I think this will be the last delay pertaining to this law. What I do care about is that Massachusetts legislators can do an end run around the Open Meeting Law to pass any laws. How is it that a bill can become law without the public knowing who sponsored it and who voted for it? How can it be legal to skirt public scrutiny?

Behavior like this is why people don’t trust politicians.


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