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Congress shall make 
no law respecting an establishment of religion, 
or prohibiting the free 
exercise thereof; or 
abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; 
or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, 
and to petition the 
Government for a 
redress of grievances.



We welcome contributions 
to The NEFAC Report from journalists, lawyers, academics 
or other advocates of 
government transparency. If 
you have something to add 
to the conversation, please let 
us know. Your stories, experiences and commentaries have broad appeal and value.
Submissions can be emailed to: [email protected]

T H E  
N E F A C   R E P O R T      
March 2015
NEFAC Joins Sunshine Week Celebration, Calls for FOIA Reform and Local Advocacy
This national campaign, held this year from March 15-21, was an initiative to promote a dialogue about the importance of transparency and freedom of information. Participants included news media, civic groups, libraries, non-profits, schools and others interested in the public's right to know.

To recognize the occasion, NEFAC and 22 other organizations wrote to the Obama Administration calling for, among other things, improvements to the federal Freedom of Information ActOn the state level, NEFAC announced it partnership with three Massachusetts organizations in  an effort to improve that state's public records law.

Each day during Sunshine Week, NEFAC published reports from all New England states, highlighting various freedom of information concerns and initiatives. [More]

NEFAC's Sunshine Week Reports

Sen. Patrick Leahy | U.S. Senate

Dan Barrett | NEFAC and ACLU of Vermont

Steven Brown | ACLU of Rhode Island

James H. Smith | NEFAC and Connecticut Council on FOI

Gregory V. Sullivan | NEFAC and the Loeb School of Communications

Oamshri Amarasingham | ACLU of Maine

Justin Silverman | NEFAC

Changes to Vt. Open Meeting Law 
Would Be a 'Giant Step Backward'

The Vermont Senate and House Committees on Government Operations discussed last month a proposal to change the state's open meeting law, allowing more time to post documents online and banning penalties against some public bodies even if they intentionally violate the law. The bill, S.114, is the result of concerns by the Vermont League of Cities and Towns, which is lobbying for changes that would relax many of the state's current open meeting requirements. Before any changes are considered, however, it's important to acknowledge a few things[More]

Massachusetts Governor 
Charlie Baker is a Fast Learner

During Charlie Baker's bid for governor last year, I asked his campaign if Baker were elected would he, like his predecessor, Gov. Deval Patrick, make the claim that he's not covered by the Massachusetts public records law"Charlie . . . will reexamine the practices regarding public records requests when elected," his communications director Tim Buckley told me. This just in: The reexamination has been completed. [More]

Pass HB 6750 and Rescue Connecticut's Reputation for Transparency Pledge

I am not exaggerating one iota when I say that failure to enact this remedial legislation will be one of the final nails in the coffin of open and transparent government in Connecticut - a state which originally was considered one of the enlightened pillars of good government, but more recently has earned a reputation as one that tolerates corruption and governmental misconduct. [More]

When Requesting Public Records, 
Don't Forget Personal Email Accounts

With all the flap about Hillary Clinton conducting state department business using her personal email account, I wanted to see if there are any related cases in my own backyard of Massachusetts. Sure enough, I found one. [More]

NEFAC Concerned About Criminal Record Access in Mass., Withholding of Arrest Info

These rulings, according to a Boston Globe article, give "individual police chiefs and other officials the power to decide what to release or keep secret - even when the information relates to wrongdoing in their own departments." The rulings, in part, allowed Boston police to withhold the names of officers caught drunken driving and state police to withhold the arrest report of one of its officers[More]

Alliance Urges Passage of Mass. 
Public Records Modernization Bill

United under the banner of the Massachusetts Freedom of Information Alliance (MassFOIA), open-government groups urged the state legislature to quickly pass recently filed legislation intending to modernize and rationalize the Massachusetts public records law. Those groups include NEFAC, the ACLU of Massachusetts, Common Cause Massachusetts, the Massachusetts Newspaper Publishers Association, and the League of Women Voters of Massachusetts. [More]

NEFAC Calls for Correctional System Transparency, Reintroduction of PPI Act

The New England First Amendment Coalition joined 54 civil rights and media organizations to call for the reintroduction of the proposed federal Private Prison Information ActThe legislation requires federal prisons managed by private contractors to disclose the same information under the Freedom of Information Act as publicly managed prisons. U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) introduced the legislation last year but it failed to garner enough support to become law. [More]

Boston Globe Subscribers Can Help NEFAC Promote Open Government

Subscribers will be receiving, or have already received, in the mail a voucher provided by The Boston Globe through its annual GRANT program. Seven-day newspaper subscribers will receive vouchers valued at $100 and all other subscribers will receive vouchers valued at $50. These vouchers can then be mailed back to The Boston Globe with the name of a non-profit. Those organizations with the highest amount of donations will be given free advertising in the newspaper[More]

            Clinton, Private Email Disclosure



            Public Records Law Reform, HB 2772

            Access to Criminal Records

   New Hampshire  

            Open Meetings, Free Speech
            Governor, Public Record Access
            HB 646, Public Record Search Fees
   Rhode Island