HARRISBURG – To bring Pennsylvania’s Right to-Know-Law up to date with advances since it was first enacted 14 years ago, the House today approved House Bill 2524
by Rep. Lou Schmitt (R-Blair).
“From time to time, laws need to be updated to bring them up to modern standards. Pennsylvania’s RTK Law is no exception,” Schmitt said. “The effort to make meaningful updates to this important government transparency law has been a long one and I believe the result is a bill that cherishes the public’s right to access information. This bill also provides clarification to aspects of the law that have been publicly debated, oftentimes in the press.”
House Bill 2524 provides numerous updates to the RTK Law, such as requiring agencies to register open records officer contact information with the state’s Office of Open Records; permitting agencies to ask requesters whether records will be used for commercial purposes; a new penalty for false certification relating to commercial requests; additional privacy and public safety clarifications; updates to comply with recent court rulings; and permission to assess reasonable, standard fees for commercial requests, with an exception for media requests.
Specifically, the bill calls for the Office of Open Records to provide online training throughout the year. It also clarifies the current law so local agencies subject to RTK requests include economic or industrial development authorities. The bill also states that volunteer ambulance, fire and rescue services are not subject to the law. However, records of the organizations when contracting with a state or local agency to provide governmental functions are public record.
The legislation provides clarification to the existing RTK Law that employees’ personal identification information includes employees’ immediate family members’ names, and the number, names and ages of an employee’s dependents. It also states that that an agency’s financial institution account numbers, routing numbers, credit card numbers, personal identification numbers and passwords are not public information.
House Bill 2524 now goes to the Senate for consideration.
Representative Lou Schmitt
79th Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Greg Gross