FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT Justin Silverman | 774.244.2365 | firstname.lastname@example.org
The New England First Amendment Coalition joined other Massachusetts advocates today to call for state funding needed to support municipalities planning to offer hybrid access to their meetings.
The Senate recently established a new line item that allocates $20 million in a general bond bill to support municipal IT infrastructure for public meetings. In a July 20 letter to members of the General Governmental Infrastructure Bond Bill Conference Committee, the groups asked that the funding be included in the final version of the bill being considered.
“As the Commonwealth moves forward, many municipalities want to make the most of this new civic engagement, continue to protect public health, and simultaneously improve both access and equity, by combining traditional in-person meetings with tech-supported remote participation,” according to the letter. “Cities and towns need financial and technical assistance to be able to provide this important kind of access.”
The letter was sent on behalf of NEFAC, the ACLU of Massachusetts, Boston Center for Independent Living, Common Cause Massachusetts, Disability Law Center, League of Women Voters of Massachusetts, Massachusetts Newspaper Publishers Association, Metropolitan Area Planning Council and MASSPIRG.
NEFAC and many of the letter’s signatories are advocating for legislation (H.3152/S.2082) that would permanently update the Open Meeting Law to require a hybrid meeting format so that members of the public can access and participate in public meetings remotely, in addition to the option of attending in person.
NEFAC was formed in 2006 to advance and protect the Five Freedoms of the First Amendment, including the principle of the public’s right to know. We’re a broad-based organization of people who believe in the power of an informed democratic society. Our members include lawyers, journalists, historians, academics and private citizens.
Our coalition is funded through contributions made by those who value the First Amendment and who strive to keep government accountable. Please make a donation here.
Leadership Circle donors include the Rhode Island Foundation, Hearst Connecticut Media Group, The Boston Globe, Paul and Ann Sagan, and the Robertson Foundation. Major Supporters include Boston University, the Academy of New England Journalists, the Society of Professional Journalists Foundation, Genie Gannett for the First Amendment Museum, Linda Pizzuti Henry, Connecticut Public and GBH-Boston.