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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

As the Keystone State Turns...

The state House unanimously adopted a comprehensive amendment to an open records bill that would presume the records of all branches of state and local governments are public, as it passed a number of amendments to the bill Monday night. House members confidently predicted their failure to pass the bill last week would not bar the bill from being sent to Gov. Ed Rendell before the end of the year.

But about three hours after that vote was taken, Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi, R-Delaware, put out a statement in which he said: "The House adopted 19 separate amendments to Senate Bill 1 . Under House rules, the earliest that the bill can be sent to the Senate is late Tuesday night.

"The Senate approved this legislation, 48 to 1, on November 28. It is unfortunate that the leadership of the House of Representatives chose to delay substantive action for 12 days.

"The public and the Senate need to fully understand the impact of the many House amendments. We will begin studying them immediately. Strengthening Pennsylvania's Open Records Law remains my top legislative priority. As such, the Senate will act on Senate Bill 1 as soon as we return in January."

A vote on final passage of the House measure could come Tuesday night after 9 p.m., unless the House votes to suspend its rules and votes earlier.

The omnibus amendment changed a Senate bill that expanded access to state and local government records, but limited the number of legislative and judicial records available to the public, mostly to financial records.

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