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House of Representatives
Session of 2021 - 2022 Regular Session


Posted: February 23, 2021 12:26 PM
From: Representative Patrick J. Harkins
To: All House members
Subject: Burdensome Right-to-Know Requests
When the Right-to-Know Law was enacted on February 14, 2008, a new age of transparency and openness was created in Pennsylvania’s state and local governments. The law ensures citizens are provided access to the records of state agencies, local agencies, legislative agencies, and judicial agencies. This creates a culture of respect and trust between the people of Pennsylvania and their elected and appointed officials.
While this law is very important, it is equally important that the law not be used in a manner that overburdens an agency from performing its other duties. The time and effort put into fulfilling numerous Right-to-Know requests can be rather long and extraneous with little to no allowance for either objecting to the request or receiving additional compensation. I believe it is time to update current law to ensure the requests are less burdensome to agencies and open records officers.
For this reason, I plan on introducing legislation to amend the Right-to-Know Law by allowing agencies to deny an unreasonably burdensome request and to increase the fees associated with requests from for-profit entities that are not newspapers, broadcast outlets, or similar organizations. By allowing for these two actions, the agencies will be better equipped to respond to citizens’ requests. Please join me in updating the Right-to-Know Law to ensure the process is efficient and fair.

Introduced as HB1553