(BOSTON) – At the start of the Massachusetts State Senate’s debate over a $3.6 billion American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) spending bill, State Senator Diana DiZoglio (D-Methuen) called on lawmakers to finally get a plan in place around a reopening of the State House to the public.
The Massachusetts State House closed to the public in March 2020, amidst the rise of COVID-19. As cases have declined in the Commonwealth, limited numbers of legislators and staff have been allowed in the building – however, the State House remains otherwise closed to the public.
During her remarks, DiZoglio argued Massachusetts residents deserve full access to the legislative process and their elected officials, particularly on matters of such significance.
“We cannot call ourselves inclusive, open, transparent and accessible to the residents who sent us here while the State House doors continue to be closed to our communities,” said DiZoglio. “The doors may be open to legislators and staff but what about for our residents who don’t have access to technology to watch a virtual session? Our residents and advocates deserve full access to what we are taking up.”
DiZoglio questioned in her remarks the rationale behind keeping the State House closed to the public.
“Our small businesses, schools and countless other settings are fully open across the state,” said DiZoglio. “We all support the public safety as the most paramount of matters but the truth is, we are not closed to the public anymore on the basis of following the science. We are closed because the powers that be have decided to keep these doors closed at a time when nearly every other facility has found a way to open safely.”
DiZoglio concluded her remarks by formally calling on the Legislature to put a plan in place for opening up the building to the public.
“It is beyond past time to open our doors and engage in an actual inclusive, transparent, open and accessible process that everyone, not just a few, can fully participate in,” said DiZoglio