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CPBJ Extra Blog

Proposed changes to Right to Know law that you should know

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When the state Senate reconvenes at 1 p.m. today, among the bills up for third consideration is Sen. Dominic Pileggi's Senate Bill 444, which would expand Pennsylvania's Right to Know law in specific areas.

If you’ll recall, I wrote about why the Right to Know law matters to your business about a year ago. In that post, I mentioned Pileggi’s S.B. 444, which was slowly working its way through the legislative process.

Some of the most interesting additions to this law involve disclosure of information about state-related institutions, their employees, and employees’ benefits and designations. For instance, it adds a section stating that state-related institutions — meaning Penn State, Temple, University of Pittsburgh and Lincoln University — with fewer than 2,500 employees must disclose the highest 25 salaries, and state-related institutions with more than 2,500 employees must disclose the top 200 salaries paid. It also specifies that such institutions must report all contracts worth $5,000 or more.

In addition to all the new information the bill requires state institutions to track and report, it adds this onerous but important task:

“The information shall be posted online at the institution’s publicly accessible Internet website in a searchable, sortable and downloadable database format that is freely accessible by the public. To the extent possible, a State-related institution shall post the information online in a similar manner in order to facilitate easy public review. The information of prior years shall be maintained for no fewer than ten years.”

These specific additions start on page 22 and continue for nearly nine pages.

Also of interest in the bill: Near the top, it provides a section for those seeking public information for “commercial purpose,” saying the Office of Open Records must be told if the information requested will be used for any of the following reasons:

“(1) for the purpose of selling or reselling any portion of the record;

(2) to obtain names and addresses from the record for the purpose of solicitation; or

(3) in a manner through which the requester can reasonably expect to make a profit.”

So if you use open records for any of those business reasons, be aware that changes might be coming.

• • •

I have to mention it. I can’t let it go without saying something.

I was on vacation last week, and I came back to work today to discover there’s no state budget. A proposal is sitting on Gov. Tom Corbett’s desk, but he hasn’t indicated whether he’ll sign it (he has until the end of the day Friday). And not included in the proposal is — surprise, surprise — any pension reform.

If I feel like a broken record on this subject, I can’t imagine how legislators and Corbett are feeling.

In the meantime, the Senate’s in session today; the House doesn’t reconvene until Sept. 15.

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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