Jul. 23, 2020
– A key piece of legislation dealing with state government transparency that has the support of every member of the General Assembly faces the threat of a veto by Gov. Tom Wolf.
House Bill 2463
, which passed both the state House and Senate unanimously in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, would prevent the governor and his administration from directing a Commonwealth agency to ignore Right-to-Know (RTK) requests for records or suspend a Commonwealth agency’s process to answer a request for records during a disaster declaration. The legislation also strengthens penalties against state agencies that fails to comply with RTK requests.
State Reps. Stephanie Borowicz (R-Centre/Clinton), Martin Causer (R-Cameron/McKean/ Potter), Cris Dush (R-Jefferson/Indiana), Matt Gabler (R-Clearfield/Elk), Lee James (R-Venango/Butler), Donna Oberlander (R-Clarion/Armstrong/Forest), Clint Owlett (R-Tioga/Bradford/Potter), Kathy Rapp (R-Warren/Crawford/Forest) and Brad Roae (R-Crawford/Erie) issued the following statement while waiting for Wolf to make a decision on the bill becoming law:
“Only twice in the last 42 years has a Pennsylvania governor opposed legislation that was endorsed by every member of his General Assembly. The circumstances in which Govs. Milton Shapp and Ed Rendell acted as they did pale in comparison to those facing Gov. Wolf. The man who recently said he would put his record of transparency up against that of the General Assembly is threatening to turn his back on a legislative challenge to that self-proclaimed reputation.
“Leadership in a time like this is admittedly not easy when there is essentially no ‘playbook’ to follow. What House Bill 2463 asks for is a window into the reasons behind why some of the difficult decisions are made. A business owner for instance has a right to know why his or her competitors were deemed ‘essential’ through the granting of waivers while their request was denied. At the height of the pandemic, counties saw neighboring counties progress through the governor’s ‘color-coded recovery plan’ and wondered why they didn’t move with them.
“Individuals in positions of authority know some of their decisions may be challenged. In this case, taxpayers have a right to know that government is acting in their best interests and not for reasons that question integrity or motive. House Bill 2463 is really a no brainer.”
Rep. Stephanie Borowicz
Rep. Martin Causer
Rep. Cris Dush
Rep. Matt Gabler
Rep. Lee James
Rep. Donna Oberlander
Rep. Clint Owlett
Rep. Kathy Rapp
Rep. Brad Roae
Pennsylvania House of Representatives