By Matt Murphy
State House News Service
BOSTON -- Six House Republicans and 21 GOP candidates for office this fall are behind a new eight-point plan they say will bring greater transparency and accountability to the State House, including the elimination of a long-defended exemption for the Legislature from the state's public records law.
Rep. Marc Lombardo spearheaded the push with Reps. Shaunna O'Connell, Geoff Diehl, Jim Lyons, Kevin Kuros and Leah Cole to promote the "8-Point Sunlight Legislative Plan," which would bar the passage of spending bills during informal sessions when few legislators are in attendance, require committee votes to be published online and force six-member conference committees appointed to hash out the differences between the branches on major legislation to do their work in public, rather than closed sessions.
"The people of the Commonwealth deserve openness and transparency within the legislative process. It is time to end the backroom deals," Lombardo said in a statement. "Today we are standing here to pledge transparency to a very opaque process."
The plan also calls for all lawmakers to have access to the "can" where bills on tap for consideration are held by the clerk during sessions, and for Democrats in leadership to stop the practice of bundling amendments, which is used to dispense with large numbers of amendments to a bill in a single vote.
Under the process currently used by House leaders, any representative is free to ask for their amendment to be pulled out of a bundled amendment and debated separately.
The lawmakers and candidates also pledged to stand with any member seeking a roll call vote on a bill or amendment. The issue recently surfaced when Lombardo couldn't get a sufficient number of his colleagues to support his request for a roll call during debate on an amendment to Speaker Robert DeLeo's job creation bill. On Wednesday, Lombardo was unable to force a recorded vote on a $4.6 billion temporary state budget.
Lombardo, who represents Billerica, and Lyons, and Andover resident who represents part of Tewksbury, have publicly called for House Minority Leader Brad Jones to be removed as leader of the House Republican, continuing friction within the small GOP caucus.
The group is also calling for the Ethics Committee, which is currently made up of six Democrats and four Republicans, to be "bipartisan."
The candidates joining with the elected representatives in their call for more transparency are Alex Vispoli, Shawn Craig, Matt Elder, Jim Pavlik, Bob Whynott, Tim Hempton, Dennis Galvin, Lou Valanzola, Caroline Colarusso, Les Gosule, Joe McKenna, Paddy Dolan, John Lock, Jackie Kostas, Dylan Korpita, Paul Girouard, Colleen Maloney, Karen Anderson, Andrea Farretta, Nathan Bech, and Marc Reihl.