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House of Representatives
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session


Posted: December 1, 2016 02:36 PM
From: Representative Justin J. Simmons
To: All House members
Subject: Right-to-Know Law – Commercial Purpose Fee
You may be aware of municipalities in your district that have been flooded by numerous public records requests from businesses seeking information that will be used for commercial purposes. There are many situations in which the information contained in such records is used to market various products and services.

The implications of this situation are two-fold. First, the resources of local government offices – sometimes staffed by one or two individuals, or a part time employee – may be overwhelmed by Right-to-Know requests made for a commercial purpose. Secondly, taxpayers, who pay the salaries of these local government employees, may be shortchanged when employees must dedicate substantial amounts of time and energy to fulfilling public records requests from business enterprises, some of which are located in other regions of the Commonwealth or out-of-state.

For these reasons, I intend to introduce legislation that will permit local and state agencies to charge additional search, review and duplication fees when responding to public record requests made for a commercial purpose. Under my proposal, each requester will be required to indicate whether the request is being made for a commercial purpose. The additional search, review and duplication fees under my legislation will be approved by the Office of Open Records. Additionally, the fees must be reasonable and cannot be established with the intent or effect of excluding individuals from access to records.

I believe that my legislation will balance the importance of the general public’s right to know with the value of preserving the ability of our local governments to balance their many responsibilities and serve their taxpayers.

Please join me in supporting this legislation. If you have any questions regarding this legislation, please contact Lori Nissly at (717) 783-1673 or lnissly@pahousegop.com.

Introduced as HB639