Legislators in Harrisburg can take an important step tomorrow to strengthen Pennsylvania's open-records law, one of the weakest in the nation.
A state House panel will review a bill that would give residents more clout when seeking information on everything from zoning decisions to expense reports of public officials.
Current state law has the issue backwards. It places the burden on citizens to prove why any government record should be open for public inspection.
A bill from Rep. Tim Mahoney (D., Fayette) would shift the burden onto state and local agencies to explain why certain records should be kept secret.
The measure contains other important features. It would cover the legislature, which is currently exempt. It would create an independent office to handle requests for state records and appeals of denials. It would increase the fines for willful violations from $300 to $1,000.
House Majority Leader Bill DeWeese (D., Greene) and Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi (R., Delaware) say strengthening the open-records law is a priority.
But there is ample skepticism about how much openness lawmakers really want. Just last month, legislative leaders refused to disclose how $360 million in the legislators' "walking-around money" slush fund was being spent in their home districts....
Tuesday, August 07, 2007
The Latest from PA FOI Reform...
This Philadelphia Inquirer editorial gives us a nice update: