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Pennsylvania House of Representatives
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House Co-Sponsorship Memoranda

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House of Representatives
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session


Posted: March 13, 2019 11:08 AM
From: Representative Russ Diamond
To: All House members
Subject: Amazon Amendment to Right-to-Know Law
The foundation of our Right-to-Know Law is the principal that documents in the possession of a government agency are presumed to be public records. Because of this principal, citizens and taxpayers have access to information regarding government actions and decisions that affect their lives and their pocketbooks.

There are numerous exemptions in our Right-to-Know Law that protect personal financial information, medical information and trade secrets, and limit access to records that could jeopardize the security of people and infrastructure and reveal the progress of ongoing criminal investigations. The intent of a number of these exemptions is to protect the privacy and security of individuals and the confidential proprietary information of businesses.

When government uses these exemptions, however, to shield information that the legislature intended to be public when it first enacted the Right-to-Know Law in 2008, I believe that law is being misused. For example, when agencies attempted to shield information regarding government-authored proposals to attract the second Amazon headquarters to Pennsylvania, the Office of Open Records issued a final determination affirming that records created by a government agency cannot qualify as a trade secret or confidential proprietary information.

I intend to introduce legislation to incorporate this decision into statute and clarify that a record created in whole or in part by a government agency cannot be a trade secret or confidential proprietary information and therefore cannot be exempt from access under the current exemption applicable to these types of records. The intent of this proposal is to ensure that our Right-to-Know Law continues to serve as an important mechanism for allowing citizens of the Commonwealth to hold government accountable.

Please join me in cosponsoring this important legislation.

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Introduced as HB988