|Posted:||June 6, 2017 03:06 PM|
|From:||Representative Jim Christiana|
|To:||All House members|
|Subject:||Sunshine Act Reform|
When the General Assembly enacted the Sunshine Act, our predecessors and colleagues declared,
The right of the public to be present at all meetings of agencies and to witness the deliberation, policy formulation and decision-making of agencies is vital to the enhancement and proper functioning of the democratic process and that secrecy in public affairs undermines the faith of the public in government and the public's effectiveness in fulfilling its role in a democratic society.
I believe that we all understand the intent and importance of the Sunshine Act in maintaining and enhancing the transparency of government decision-making and in allowing Pennsylvanians to participate in their government. Unfortunately, there are times in which this important law is not used as intended. Additionally, I believe that there are opportunities to improve the law and make it more “user friendly” for citizens and taxpayers.
That is why I plan to re-introduce legislation that will require agencies to make meeting agendas -- including a listing of each matter of agency business that will be the subject of official action and/or deliberation -- available to the public prior to all public meetings. In addition to including such information in the official public notices, my proposal will require the agenda to be posted at the location of the meeting and on the agency’s public website.
In today’s hectic, fast-paced world, it is important that we give our constituents the tools they need to participate in government in a meaningful way. If citizens and taxpayers can access information regarding a public meeting agenda prior to the meeting, then they will know whether issues of importance or concern are to be addressed at the meeting.
Finally, to ensure that government agencies are forthcoming regarding planned public meetings, my legislation would preclude an agency from taking official action on a matter at any given meeting without listing the matter on the meeting’s agenda.
This legislation was introduced as HB 1155 of the 2015-16 regular session. I hope you will join me in sponsoring this important proposal.
Introduced as HB1531