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public records law overview MA

public records law overview MA

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Published by Mary Serreze

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Published by: Mary Serreze on Dec 07, 2012
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A Guide to theMassachusettsPublic Records Law
Published byWilliam Francis GalvinSecretary of the CommonwealthDivision of Public Records
Updated May 2012
he founding fathers of our nation stroveto develop an open government formed onthe principles of democracy and publicparticipation. An informed citizen is betterequipped to participate in that process.Laws mandating the disclosure of publicrecords have existed in the Commonwealthof Massachusetts since 1851. The federalFreedom of Information Act was signedinto law in 1966 by President Lyndon B.Johnson. In 1974, Congress amended thefederal Freedom of Information Act inorder to make government records more accessible to the public. TheMassachusetts Public Records Law parallels federal law, with somevariation. Every government record in Massachusetts is presumed to bepublic unless it may be withheld under one of nineteen exemptions.As Secretary of the Commonwealth and chief public information officerfor the Commonwealth, I am pleased to publish this guide explainingthe Public Records Law. The full text of the law is provided, as well asa brief description of each of the exemptions to the law. Also includedis a section of frequently asked questions about a requester’s right toaccess public records, as well as a government records custodian’s dutyto respond to those requests. Any additional questions regarding thePublic Records Law should be directed to the Division of PublicRecords at (617) 727-2832 during regular business hours. You mayalso access Division of Public Records publications and otherinformation at www.sec.state.ma.us/pre/preidx.htm. William Francis GalvinSecretary of the Commonwealth

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