I am 26 years old and I have decided I do not want kids. It would be immoral to bring a child into the abysmal future we face in this climate crisis. I place the blame on the illusion that our government is doing its job, and I am writing in support of transparency in the Massachusetts Statehouse.
We cannot pass any additional progressive climate bills until we fix the transparency and accountability problems in the Statehouse. Until the other day, the last time a progressive climate change bill passed through the Statehouse was in 2008. I was 14 and in eighth grade.
Since then we have learned that climate change is much worse than we thought. If Massachusetts residents were able to truly hold their representatives accountable and have influence over which bills passed, we would have committed to 100% renewable energy years ago.
Massachusetts has one of the least transparent statehouses in the country. With few exceptions, our legislators vote in secret. This fosters a corrupting system in which legislators are more accountable to corporations and special interests than to their own constituents. The result is that our Statehouse fails us by prioritizing modest, incremental changes which appease lobbyists instead of truly reflecting the values of citizens.
Popular progressive policy dies in our Legislature year after year, thanks to a system so confusing and complicated that voters cannot influence the process.
A serious lack of transparency means constituents are left in the dark as to how their representatives vote. It means you can go to a hearing to support legislation but then watch helplessly while a private committee kills that bill without having to justify its decisions.
If you ask your representatives why action wasn’t taken, you’ll usually get a long answer about backroom deals and “how the game is played.” But this isn’t a game.
My decision to join Act on Mass and the Transparency is Power campaign was the culmination of frustrations I’ve had with my government’s lack of accountability. The campaign is ready to change the status quo.
With support from over 2,500 people in the state we’ve asked legislators to change the session rules to: 1. Make all committee votes public; 2. Make all bills available to the public at least 72 hours prior to a vote; and 3. Lower the threshold for calling for a publicly recorded roll call vote from 16 representatives to eight representatives.
My representative, Rep. Frank Moran, has voted against similar transparency amendments in the past. In order for change to be made this time, a majority of state representatives must agree in a vote that usually happens at the beginning of the legislative session but this time has been postponed in the House.
We need at least 81 state representatives to commit.
There is much at stake if we fail.
The climate crisis may not threaten my future as severely as many other Massachusetts residents. People of color, refugees and immigrants make up the majority of the 17th Essex District and are the vulnerable to the effects of a decaying planet.
The crisis will only exacerbate social inequalities and will continue to do so absent urgent action by government.
Our broken Statehouse not only halts progress on climate-related issues but on almost every consensus issue that affects constituents’ daily lives. Without transparency we cannot pass policies with broad popular support such as same-day voter registration, police reforms, proper public school funding, fixing the housing crisis or protecting immigrants from Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
The people of Massachusetts deserve a Statehouse that represents and serves them. Moran and our other representatives are supposed to work for us.