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Monday, January 28, 2008

PA News...

State lawmakers are gearing up to put open-records legislation — a major unresolved issue — behind them next week.

Observers say there's a realistic chance the Legislature will approve a measure bringing Pennsylvania's 1957 open records statute into the 21st century by week's end. The bill declares that state, county and municipal government records are considered public unless stated otherwise and puts the burden of proof on a government to show why a record should not be made public.

"There's a realistic potential it can get to the governor's desk," said Deborah Musselman, lobbyist for the Pennsylvania Newspaper Association, which supports the legislation.

The House and Senate are nearing the endgame in their yearlong maneuvering over the issue. Key lawmakers want a resolution before Harrisburg's attention turns to the state budget. That starts shortly with Gov. Ed Rendell's Feb. 5 budget address. Symbolically, open-records action would be well received at PNA's annual government affairs conference Wednesday and Thursday. Legislative leaders participate in conference panel discussions.

"Open records will be our main priority next week," said Eric Arneson, spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi, R-Delaware. "Hope to get it all the way done and send it to the governor."

The House and Senate passed separate bills in the fall. The Senate will add a compromise amendment and send it to the House.

More here.

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