Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Help Spanier Get a Tan

Democratic State Representative Tim Mahoney has drafted an open records reform bill which he intends to introduce sometime this month. According to the Uniontown Herald-Standard the bill makes clear that state aided colleges and universities, e.g. Penn State, are subject to the bills provisions which include the following.

  • The public would have a presumed right to internal government documents and the government would have the burden of proving that a document should should remain secret.
  • A government agency would have ten days after a request for a record is made to release the requested document. A failure to do so would be considered a denial of the request.
  • A government agency which violates the law can be subjected to a fine up to $1000.
  • The definition of an open recorded is would be extended to include, all documents, papers, letters, maps, books, tapes, photographs, films, sound recordings, data processing software, database, data or other material .... made or received in connection with or relating to the work of an agency, except those documents exempt or prohibited from disclosure under state or federal law. Currently the definition includes only financial transactions and minutes of meetings.
This will be an important piece of legislation which, if enacted, will bring much needed sunshine to Old Main. Consequently, look for Spanier to oppose the language in the bill which would explicitly extend the law to Penn State. We must make sure that this bill makes its way into law and that Penn State remains covered by it. Therefore once the bill has been introduced, please contact your state representative and urge him/her to vote for it.

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