HARRISBURG — The Senate State Government Committee will examine potential improvements to the state’s Open Records Law during a public hearing on May 13, according to Committee Chairman Sen. Lloyd Smucker (R-13).
“While the Open Records Law has been an overwhelming success in terms of expanding public access to information about state government, certain aspects of the law have created confusion among state agencies and allowed for the misuse of public resources,” Smucker said. “Gathering insights on the strengths and weaknesses of the current system will help legislators address any parts of the law that show room for improvement.”
The hearing will focus on Senate Bill 444, legislation introduced by Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi (R-9) to address compliance issues for state agencies and help clarify and expand the types of records that are available to the public. Committee members will also examine ways to address the law’s application to state-related universities.
“Pennsylvania’s new Open Records Law has given residents of Pennsylvania access to tens of thousands of government records that were previously unavailable,” Senator Pileggi said. “This bill is designed to address many of the issues that have emerged since it was enacted five years ago. I thank Senator Smucker for holding a public hearing to examine Senate Bill 444, and I look forward to hearing comments on it – both from the formal presentations at next week’s hearing and in letters, emails and tweets from people across the state.”
Testimony will be offered by Office of Open Records Executive Director Terry Mutchler; Lancaster Newspapers Editor Ernie Schrieber; Millersville University Vice President for University Advancement Gerald Eckert; attorney David Strassburger; Salisbury Township manager and Chairman of the Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors Lester Houck; North Cornwall Township (Lebanon County) manager Robin Getz; Common Cause Pennsylvania Executive Director Barry Kauffman; American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania Legislative Director Andy Hoover; and Pennsylvania Freedom of Information Coalition Executive Director Kim de Bourbon.
Senators Smucker and Pileggi encouraged anyone who would like to comment on the law or the bill via Twitter to use the hashtag #PAOpenRecords.