HARRISBURG – The Senate today adopted a bill designed to provide relief for municipalities, government agencies and school boards from costly document requests, according to Sen. Cris Dush (R-25), who sponsored the bill.
“The state’s Right to Know Law ensures that our residents have access to the public records of state and local governments as well as school boards in Pennsylvania,” Sen. Dush said. “While it empowers the people, some choose to use the law to in a way that causes an enormous burden. This bill will provide a framework for burdensome requests that will help municipalities, school boards and other agencies with Right to Know Law requests save not only administrative time, but also valuable resources and taxpayer dollars.”
Senate Bill 552 will allow a municipality or agency to petition the Office of Open Records for relief from a requestor that the agency alleges is a vexatious requestor. As a legal term, “vexatious” refers to legal action that is brought without sufficient grounds for winning, purely to cause annoyance.
If the Executive Director of the Office of Open Records or their designee determines that further proceedings are warranted, the Executive Director must pursue a resolution through mediation or a hearing. The Executive Director or designee must issue a final opinion with appropriate relief that includes, but is not limited to, an order that the agency does not need to comply with future requests from the vexatious requestor for no more than one year.
Organizations in support of this bill include the Pennsylvania School Boards Association, Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors, and Pennsylvania Municipal League, Pennsylvania State Association to Township Commissioners, Pennsylvania State Association of Boroughs, and the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania.
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