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House Co-Sponsorship Memoranda

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House of Representatives
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session


Posted: January 4, 2017 04:33 PM
From: Representative Brett R. Miller
To: All House members
Subject: Right To Know Legislation to Safeguard Personal Financial Information and Public Funds
In the near future I will introduce legislation that is designed to prevent misinterpretation and the misapplication of the Right-to-Know Law. This legislation is primarily a technical change that clarifies the language of the Right-to-Know Law in order to further safeguard both personal financial information and also public funds.

Presently under the Right-to Know Law, Act 3 of 2008, the definition of “personal financial information” excludes an individual’s personal information as it relates to credit, charge and debit cards, bank accounts and statements, and account numbers. Although one could argue that this information should be covered under the general terminology, the language is vague enough that it was challenged and resulted in the need for the courts to clarify the subject. The proposed language will make it clear in the law that an individual’s personal financial information, whether it be with a bank or any other financial institution, or their tax information that is required by the state or federal government, is confidential and not a public document. One of the issues that had to be resolved by the courts was whether an individual employee’s payroll deductions and W-2 were public or protected. The Office of Open Records consistently ruled that this information was public until the courts finally ruled that employee deductions and W-2 information were private tax records and not open to public disclosure.

Section 708 provides what records of an agency are exempt from public disclosure. Financial records of a public agency are public documents as defined in the act, but it is not clear whether an agency’s financial institutions account numbers, routing numbers, credit card numbers, and passwords are exempt from disclosure. Since there is no relevance for any individual to request this information it is felt that the law should be clarified by specifically stating that this information is not a public document to protect public funds from theft.

Please join me in co-sponsoring this important piece of legislation.

Introduced as HB821