Contact Information 

Meadville District Office
900-920 Water Street
Downtown Mall
Meadville, PA  16335
Phone (814) 336-1136
Hours 8 a.m.- 4:00 p.m. (M-F)

Fairview Office (Mondays Only)
Fairview Township Building
7471 McCray Rd., Fairview, PA
Hours 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. (Monday)
1-800-770-2377

Cranesville Office (Thursdays Only)
Cranesville Borough Office
10195 John Williams Ave.
Cranesville, PA 16410
Phone: 1-800-770-2377
Hours 9 a.m. - 3 p.m. (Thursday)

Capitol Office
Hon. Brad Roae
151 East Wing
Harrisburg PA 17120-2006
Phone: (717) 787-2353
Fax: 717-782-2902

E-mail:
  broae@pahousegop.com

Q & A - State Right-to-Know Law Revisited
7/25/2013

QUESTION:  I heard that a committee in the General Assembly was looking at the state’s Right-to-Know Law.  Are you on that committee and can you tell me what it was considering?

ANSWER:  I serve on the House State Government Committee, which recently held a public hearing about the state’s Right-to-Know Law.  The law governs access to public information for each Commonwealth agency, local agency, judicial agency and legislative agency.

Several bills that would directly impact the law are under consideration in the committee.

For example, House Bill 60 would amend the law to exempt the names and addresses of jurors.  Those who favor this exemption have argued that serving on a jury is a mandatory public service.  It is not something you can simply decline.  However, when you go for jury duty, you could wind up on a murder case or other serious trial.  If that happens, the defendant or some of the defendant’s criminal buddies may want your information so they can intimidate you.

Another proposal, House Bill 115, would allow an agency to deny certain inmates’ requests for records.  There are concerns that certain inmates have been abusing the system or requesting a lot of records, which can be costly for the state government, local governments and school districts to provide.

House Bill 480 would change the law so that an agency would deny the request of a convicted felon who attempts to acquire records with personal information of employees at the Department of Corrections.  The fear here is that inmates may try to use the Right-to-Know Law to acquire information about prison personnel and then threaten their families or homes.

House Resolution 100 would call for a study to look at the costs associated with complying with the Right-to-Know Law.  Every time a request for information is submitted, there are staff resources involved – sometimes including the need for lawyers to determine if the record being sought can be released – and other costs associated with it.

Some other similar bills also were discussed at the meeting.  We heard from supporters and opponents of each of the proposals.

Testifiers at the hearing included representatives from the Pennsylvania Office of Open Records, the Pennsylvania NewsMedia Association, the Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors and Pennsylvania State Association of Boroughs.

Transparency is an important factor in our state and local governments as well as in school districts.  There are often competing interests that must be considered when deciding what should be subject to the Right-to-Know Law and what should be exempt.  The committee meeting was very helpful to bring these issues to light.
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