Bills aim to expand Pa.’s Open Records Law

Two bills that would significantly strengthen Pennsylvania’s Right-to-Know Law have been introduced by state Sen. Dominic Pileggi (R-9), the author of the state’s current law, and state Sen. John Blake (D-22), a longtime advocate for increased transparency.

“Since the new Open Records Law was enacted in 2008, the public has been given access to tens of thousands of government documents that were previously unavailable,” Pileggi said. “My legislation will strengthen the law for both requesters and agencies by simplifying the appeals process for requesters, giving the Office of Open Records much-needed flexibility in addressing complex appeals, and reducing the burden of requests from inmates. I’m pleased to be working with Senator John Blake on this crucial effort.”

Pileggi's Senate Bill 411 will also establish a new, reasonable fee structure for commercial requests, ensure that requests made to campus police departments receive the same treatment as requests to municipal police departments, and clarify that entities such as economic development authorities and industrial development authorities are covered by the law.

“It’s important to take up reforms to the Right-to-Know Law in this legislative session,”  Blake said. “I’m glad to continue the work begun in the last session with my friend and colleague, Sen. Dominic Pileggi. Senate Bill 444 was passed unanimously out of the Senate in the last session but, due to time constraints, was not taken up in the House ... Expanding the law’s coverage regarding reporting and transparency for our four state-related universities is essential and long overdue.”

Senate Bill 412 , introduced by Blake, would require state-related universities – Penn State, Temple, Pitt, and Lincoln – to create freely accessible online databases which include extensive budget, revenue and expenditure data; the number of employees and aggregated, non-personal employee data; and the number of students and aggregated, non-personal student data.

 

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