Pennsylvania coalition to cohost discussion about challenges and successes of state’s transparency laws

The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and Pennsylvania Freedom of Information Coalition on Tuesday, March 16, 2021, will host a virtual discussion of transparency in the Keystone State in celebration of Sunshine Week. The event will bring together journalists, media law attorneys, researchers and transparency advocates to talk about the challenges and successes of…

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After 4 months York County (PA) won’t release public information; other counties did so in days

The York Dispatch is in a legal battle with York County for information that Pennsylvania’s Office of Open Records has stated is clearly a public record. The newspaper first requested basic information about prothonotary office employees — including names, pay rates, job titles and dates of hire — in late July. The York Dispatch sought the information from York County officials and…

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PA governor allows government transparency legislation to become law

Despite opposing a bill he rebuked as “foolish” and “thoughtless,” Governor Tom Wolf let House Bill 2463 become law without his signature on Sunday. The bill passed unanimously in the state house and senate earlier this month. The bill would require state agencies to respond to RTK requests with procedures established by the Office of…

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In Pennsylvania, local governments still seeking guidance on open meetings rules amid coronavirus outbreak

A key Pennsylvania state senator says he’s not ready to push forward a House-passed bill that would codify what steps governmental bodies — from county commissions to local zoning boards — must follow to conduct business during the coronavirus outbreak. On Wednesday, the Pennsylvania House unanimously passed HB1564 to define how governments can comply with the Sunshine…

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FOI/Open Government coalitions from Pennsylvania and Nevada join NFOIC

For Immediate Release Contact: Daniel Bevarly Executive Director, NFOIC dbevarly@nfoic.org 352-294-7082   (02/12/2020) The Pennsylvania Freedom of Information Coalition and the Nevada Coalition for Open Government become NFOIC’s newest state FOI alliances. Now, 37 states and the District of Columbia make up the National Freedom of Information Coalition, whose mission is to make sure state and…

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Herald-Standard (PA) awarded $120K in legal fees in open records case with state DOC

In a “first-of-its kind” enforcement proceeding, the Herald-Standard was awarded nearly $120,000 in legal fees stemming from an open records fight with the state Department of Corrections. “Requester here advocated the public interest in a matter of public health affecting a captive population,” wrote Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson. In March, Simpson found that the…

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EDITORIAL: Shifting public notices to government reduces transparency

How much faith do you have in government running things?

State Sen. John Eichelberger, a Blair County Republican, wants the government to handle publication of public notices, taking them away from media companies and putting them on a government-run website.

Eichelberger introduced Senate Bill 745, which essentially gives the government the power to control its own notices. The bill was referred to the Senate Local Government Committee, which is chaired by Sen. Scott Wagner, R-York.

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Bethlehem, PA considers open data dump to lure civic hackers

In Bethlehem, city leaders are considering posting already public information online, hoping data lovers might spin it into something useful.

It's all part of the open data movement, where governments upload records on such things as air quality, crime, finances and traffic for people to digest, analyze and transform. Tech savvy millennials, so-called "civic hackers" and citizen watchdogs are the target audiences, with a hope that they will apply the data in ways that lead to better policies and more efficient governments.

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Pa. Attorney: Bill increasing police body cams shouldn’t limit access to records

Pennsylvania Senate Bill 976, which would curtail public access to police body camera video and force anyone who wants access to go through a court process, has reached the Republican-controlled House Judiciary Committee after passing the Republican-controlled Senate last month.

Senators passed the bill 45-5 to change the state's Wiretap Act to allow police to wear body cameras into private homes and public spaces without having to explicitly inform everyone they encounter that they are wearing a camera.

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