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Funding increase to Open Records office good for businesses

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Amy Gulli
Amy Gulli

You might think the state's Office of Open Records getting a 22.6 percent funding increase in the 2013-14 budget isn't your business's tax dollars. But I beg to differ.

According to Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi, the office's funding was increased by $310,000, bringing its 2013-14 budget to $1.68 million.

As you'd expect, Terry Mutchler, executive director of the office, sounded pleased by the increase. In a news release from Pileggi's office, she said the money will allow her office to "meet our ever-burgeoning caseload by immediately moving to hire additional staff."

In 2012, the office's staff of 12 handled a record number of appeals — 2,200 — from people who were denied access to records. Eight of those 12 staff members are attorneys who work to resolve appeals, according to the release.

For us journalists, who are notoriously passionate about access to public records, this is all great news. But what does it mean for you and your business?

It means you can find out whether the state actually put out for bid a project that was awarded to your competitor.

It means you can walk into your municipality's office and ask to see the building permit and submitted plans for the facility being built next to your office.

It means you can ensure that your county's planning commission is being forthright and honest about the land-use plans you've submitted so you can add a new location or relocate your headquarters.

If you're not thinking about how using public records could be a benefit to your business, you need to find 15 minutes this week and consider it. Because there's a lot of information out there that you're missing otherwise.

On a related note, Pileggi continues to push Senate Bill 444, which he says would amend and improve the current right-to-know law, which was passed in 2008.

Amy Gulli is the managing editor of the Central Penn Business Journal. Contact her at amy@centralpennbusiness.com or follow her on Twitter, @amygulli.

Amy Gulli

Amy Gulli

Amy Gulli is the managing editor of the Central Penn Business Journal. Have a question or tip for her? Email her at amy@cpbj.com. Follow her on Twitter, @amygulli. Circle Amy Gulli on .

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