|Posted:||April 24, 2020 10:32 AM|
|From:||Representative Seth M. Grove|
|To:||All House members|
|Subject:||Restoring Transparency in State Government|
|Since Governor Wolf closed the physical locations of commonwealth agencies, they have ignored any requests made under the Right-to-Know (RTK) Law. While transparency between government and people is critical during normal times it is even more important during times of emergency.
In order to ensure state government remains transparent, I plan to introduce legislation which would require state agencies to begin responding to RTK requests. Under the bill, if an agency has been forced to close its physical location, it must follow procedures established by the Office of Open Records (OOR). These procedures will take into consideration the difficulties faced by commonwealth agencies due to COVID-19 and any potential future emergency declarations and establish fair policies for responding to an RTK request.
Should a commonwealth agency fail to follow the policies established by OOR, a requestor may petition the Commonwealth Court to compel a response. Agencies would be forced to pay the attorney costs and fees for a requestor who had to petition the court to compel a response.
The court’s decision would not force an agency to approve the request for documents as the exceptions provided by the RTK law would still apply. However, these exceptions would not apply to decisions made by a commonwealth agency related to a disaster declaration or how an agency determined it would collect the data used to make those decisions.
By establishing a fair process requiring agencies to answer RTK requests during this unprecedented time, we can ensure government is transparent with the press and the public. Please join me and co-sponsor this legislation to restore transparency to state government. Should you have any questions about this legislation please contact Jordan Grant by email at Jgrant@pahousegop.com
Introduced as HB2463