HARRISBURG – Legislation to improve and clarify Pennsylvania’s Open Records Law passed unanimously out of the Senate State Government Committee on Wednesday, according to Senator Jake Corman (R- Bellefonte).
“I believe our Open Records Law is one of the best in the nation, and this bill makes a number of important and needed changes to improve upon our nationally recognized model,” he said.
As amended, Senate Bill 444 makes improvements to the existing law, including clearly establishing the Office of Open Records as an independent agency, establishing a new fee structure for commercial requests, clarifies the news media’s exemption from the commercial request provision, creates a new section to address record requests made by inmates, clarifies the law’s application to the PIAA and adds records of volunteer emergency providers to the list of exceptions.
“The bill makes a number of important changes that have been well vetted and discussed since the act’s inception,” said Corman. “We have been able to review the impact of the act overtime, including holding multiple State Government Committee hearings, and now we can make the necessary changes.”
Additionally, the bill requires the four state-related universities – Penn State University, Temple University, the University of Pittsburgh and Lincoln University – to create searchable, sortable and downloadable databases on their freely accessible public Web sites. The databases will include extensive budget, revenue and expenditure data, the number of employees and non-personal employee data, and the number of students and non-personal student data.
“Providing easy online access to detailed budget and academic information for our state-related universities is an innovative addition to the act and will improve how the public can view the important impact public support has at these institutions,” said Corman.