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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 2023 - 2024 Regular Session


Posted: October 16, 2023 02:38 PM
From: Representative Liz Hanbidge
To: All House members
Subject: Expanding Public Comment Rules
The Sunshine Act (also known as the open meetings law) provides that at meetings of a local government body, the public has a right to comment on issues that are or may be before the board.  Therefore, the governing body must provide a reasonable opportunity for residents and/or taxpayers to comment on an issue before a decision takes place. 

Most political subdivisions limit those who can speak to these minimum requirements.  This becomes problematic when a municipality is discussing a proposed requirement that affects neighboring political subdivisions as well.  Because only residents and taxpayers are allowed to make comments, those living in neighboring communities, who may also be impacted, will not be given an opportunity to express support for or concerns with the issue at hand.

To address this issue, I plan to introduce legislation that will allow for “persons of interest” to speak at meetings of local government bodies.  A person of interest would encompass a resident of an adjoining political subdivision affected by a board or council's pending decision or an elected official whose district encompasses that political subdivision. 

The foundation of our democratic system is the public’s ability to participate in decision-making.  Unfortunately, for far too long our laws have had the effect of stifling the voices of those attempting to advocate on behalf of their communities.  Please join me in co-sponsoring this important measure to provide those impacted by local decisions a voice.

Introduced as HB1810