Tuesday, February 12, 2008

PA Senate Action Expected on Final Version Open Records

According to the Tribune Review Senate OK expected on open recordsBy Brad Bumsted Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Watch everybody suddenly appear back in their home districts and tout how they were for opening everything all along. Well, everything isn't open, keep that in mind.

While the original House Bill applied the open records requirements to the three branches of government, that version did not apply to past records.

The Senate version initially didn't apply to all three branches, but was altered by Senator Pileggi before introduction. The Senate action applied the legislation retroactively to envelope past records. That legislation passed in the Senate unanimously.

Both versions had kept the original exemption for a certain category of emails called private communications.

However, that may have been altered it appears:

Senate OK expected on open records
By Brad Bumsted
Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Nineteen categories of legislative records would be public -- from audits and staff manuals to public opinion polls.

The legislation also would create an online searchable database of state contracts.

There is "no blanket exception for e-mail" under the proposal, said Deputy Speaker Josh Shapiro, D-Montgomery County.

E-mail "is treated just like paper," Arneson said.


The action by House Republicans to "delay" the consideration of Senate Bill 1 was bashed by Democrats, but in the end, apparently, most of what the House Republicans slated to review further was necessary.

Vote on open records law delayed Wednesday, February 06, 2008


Pa. House passes open records legislation
Lawmakers say bill strikes balance of rights and privacy
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
By Tracie Mauriello, Post-Gazette Harrisburg Bureau

...Yesterday's amendment also carves out an exemption in a provision restricting requesters of government information to use it for commercial purposes. Real estate agents had been concerned they would not be able to use information from titles and other records in property listings.

"There was a huge issue with Realtors, and that was a concern I had myself," state Rep. Paul Costa, D-Wilkins, said after the passage. "I'm glad we finally did work it out."


Senator Pileggi's Open Records Bill Approved by Senate; Returns to House for Concurrence


How the Senate Action unfolded: Pennsylvania Senate Republican News


Pennsylvania Newspaper Association supports Senate Bill 1

S.B. 1 significantly reforms weak open records law
By Tim Williams
February 5, 2008


Pa. House passes open records legislation
Lawmakers say bill strikes balance of rights and privacy
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
By Tracie Mauriello, Post-Gazette Harrisburg Bureau
HARRISBURG -- The House last night unanimously passed a new state open records law, ending 13 months of wrangling that erupted last week in a spirited debate between Democrats and Republicans.

Yesterday, though, caucus leaders came together to reach an agreement to appease real estate agents, advocates for victims of domestic violence and other groups that had raised concerns about the provisions of the open records bill, which had already been passed unanimously in the Senate.

House Republicans said the new version of the legislation does a better job balancing the public's right to know with an individual's right to and expectation of privacy.

Senate leaders have indicated that they will support the changes when the bill is sent back to their chamber for concurrence today.


House OKs open records bill
By Kori Walter, For the Herald-Standard
HARRISBURG - The state House of Representatives trimmed a paragraph, added a few commas and agreed on a revised open records bill Monday night that lawmakers hope will be on Gov. Ed Rendell's desk by the end of the week.

House members voted 199-0 to pass open records legislation just five days after GOP members halted debate amid concerns that expanding access to government records would aid identity thieves, put domestic violence victims and senior citizens at risk and cripple the state's real-estate industry.

Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi, a Delaware County Republican, has planned a full Senate vote on the bill today. If the bill passes the Senate, it then goes to the governor to be signed into law.

While the House inserted provisions to satisfy each of the concerns raised by Republican lawmakers last week, the foundation of the open records legislation was unchanged.

Documents at all levels of government would be presumed open, and government officials would have the burden of proving that documents should be kept private.

The current law, which has been on the books since 1957, puts that burden on the person seeking government information.

The Legislature also would for the first time fall under the open records law.

Some e-mail messages and other correspondence between lobbyists and lawmakers would be publicly available and all spending of taxpayers' spending would be open....


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