Update: Investing in open government

Today, the Legislature released their conference report on their General Infrastructure Bond bill, including $30 million to promote virtual access to public meetings through IT upgrades.

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Deirdre Cummings
Legislative Director

Author: Deirdre Cummings

Legislative Director

(617) 747-4319

Started on staff: 1986
B.S., University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Deirdre runs MASSPIRG’s public health, consumer protection and tax and budget programs. Deirdre has led campaigns to get lead out of drinking water at schools and daycare centers, protect student loan borrowers from deceptive and predatory lending practices, protect consumers from identity theft in the wake of massive security breaches at Equifax and Marriot, eliminate unfair pricing practices in disability insurance products, improve public records law and require all state spending to be transparent and available on an easy-to-use website, close $400 million in corporate tax loopholes, protect the state’s retail sales laws to reduce overcharges and preserve price disclosures, reduce costs of health insurance and prescription drugs, and more. Deirdre also oversees a Consumer Action Center in Weymouth, Mass., which has mediated 18,000 complaints and returned $5 million to Massachusetts consumers since 1989. Deirdre currently resides in Maynard, Mass., with her family. Over the years she has visited all but one of the state's 351 towns — Gosnold.

Across the Commonwealth, remote access to public meetings has significantly increased public participation in state and local government, and has lowered long standing barriers for people with disabilities, people with limited access to transportation, and people with work and family obligations.

MASSPIRG, and a broad coalition of good government, newspapers and disability rights organizations are urging lawmakers to make the current temporary virtual meeting mandate (expires March 31, 2022)  permanent,  enabling members of the public to attend and participate in Open Meetings either in person or remotely.

When we require remote access options to participate in local government, we ‘open up’ our Open Meetings. As a result, area residents can more easily participate in decisions about their schools, libraries, and communities. We must ensure this critical civic tool continues after the pandemic requirements expire.

Today, the legislature made an important down payment in permanent hybrid meetings by providing $30million to cities and towns for IT investments. 

Deirdre Cummings
Legislative Director

Author: Deirdre Cummings

Legislative Director

(617) 747-4319

Started on staff: 1986
B.S., University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Deirdre runs MASSPIRG’s public health, consumer protection and tax and budget programs. Deirdre has led campaigns to get lead out of drinking water at schools and daycare centers, protect student loan borrowers from deceptive and predatory lending practices, protect consumers from identity theft in the wake of massive security breaches at Equifax and Marriot, eliminate unfair pricing practices in disability insurance products, improve public records law and require all state spending to be transparent and available on an easy-to-use website, close $400 million in corporate tax loopholes, protect the state’s retail sales laws to reduce overcharges and preserve price disclosures, reduce costs of health insurance and prescription drugs, and more. Deirdre also oversees a Consumer Action Center in Weymouth, Mass., which has mediated 18,000 complaints and returned $5 million to Massachusetts consumers since 1989. Deirdre currently resides in Maynard, Mass., with her family. Over the years she has visited all but one of the state's 351 towns — Gosnold.