Sponsors of open records legislation are back to emphasizing substance over form.
Gone is a provision to exempt most public officials’ e-mail from public scrutiny, an issue that made for a controversial House vote on open records last month.
Instead, a new open records bill in the House provides that state and local officials judge the content of a record, not whether it’s in electronic form or on paper, to determine whether a document can be handed over to a citizen upon request.
The Senate open records bill up for a possible floor vote this week also makes content the litmus test for public disclosure.
The new House bill parallels the Senate bill sponsored by Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi, R-Chester, in many respects. The main thrust of both bills is to declare that government records are considered open unless stated otherwise and to put the burden of proof on a government or agency as to why a record should not be made public.
The expectation is each chamber will pass it own bill version, said House Deputy Speaker Josh Shapiro, D-Montgomery, on Monday. Then a conference committee will be formed to produce a joint bill that can be voted down in each chamber.
The House bill represents an effort to regain support from groups like Pennsylvania Common Cause and the Pennsylvania Newspaper Association. They criticized a measure that emerged from hours of House floor debate last month as a step backwards.
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
PA FOI Reform Back On Drawing Board...
They're back at it in Pennsylvania...