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05/29/2024 05:35 AM
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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2023 - 2024 Regular Session


Posted: December 29, 2022 12:32 PM
From: Senator Michele Brooks
To: All Senate members
Subject: Right-to-Know Law Reforms regarding Commercial Requests
I will be reintroducing Senate Bill 312 of the 2021-2022 legislative session, cosponsored by Senators Mensch, Vogel, Mastriano, Stefano and Bartolotta, which will reform the Right-to-Know Law regarding commercial requests.  This legislation was unanimously reported from the Senate State Government Committee on April 27, 2021, and was the result of many stakeholder meetings and supported by the PA School Boards Association and the County Commissioners Association of PA.

This legislation would allow agencies to charge a fee for a commercial purpose request.  It takes taxpayer-paid time of agency employees to complete these requests, and it is only fair that if the request is for a commercial purpose, the agency be compensated for their time in completing the request.

This legislation would allow, not require, an agency to charge a commercial purpose requester additional fees for the search, retrieval, review, redaction and duplication of records.  The fees shall be calculated at no more than the hourly wage of the lowest-paid public employee of the agency who is capable of completing such a request.

Commercial purpose is defined as the use of a record for any of the following purposes:
  • Selling or reselling any portion of the record
  • Obtaining names and addresses from the record for the purpose of commercial solicitation
  • Any other purpose through which the requester can reasonably expect to generate income
This term does not include the use of a record by a nonprofit educational or noncommercial scientific institution for scholarly or scientific research, or the use of a record by the news media, a journalist or an author for news gathering or dissemination in a newspaper, periodical, book, digital publication, or radio or television broadcast.

A request for records from an attorney on behalf of a client, if records are not obtained for the purpose of selling, reselling or solicitation by the attorney or client, or used by the client for a commercial purpose, are exempt.  A request for records from an entity holding a certificate of authority or license from the PA Insurance Department, or a contractor, vendor, licensee, service provider or affiliate of the entity, provided that the records obtained shall only be used for the business of insurance, are also exempt.

This legislation also allows for an alternative fee arrangement - that an agency and a requester may enter into an agreement providing an alternative fee arrangement, which shall be public.  A fee charged under this legislation may also be appealed to the Office of Open Records.

I hope you will join me in cosponsoring this important legislation.


Introduced as SB210