Reform Bills Clear Senate Committees — Pennsylvania Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi (R-9) tweeted, 4 p.m., April 6, that four pieces of legislation that he supports have received committee approval.
The bills are:
SB 101 that hikes the penalty for violations of the state Sunshine Act from $100 to $1,000 for the first offense and $2,000 for subsequent offenses, and prohibits the offender from being reimbursed with tax money.
SB 104 that mandates that all state-owned vehicles have an office use license plate and that all users of such vehicles be listed on state websites.
SB 106 that prohibits lame-duck voting sessions, which means votes would not be allowed from the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November through Nov 30 in even numbered years, unless a special session has been convened.
SB 109 that requires paid advertising by any Commonwealth agency include the statement “Paid for with Pennsylvania taxpayer dollars.”
Reform Bills Clear Senate Committees
Obama Nixes A Third Of FOIA Request — In a style more akin to Hugo Chavez than Woodward and Bernstein, the Obama administration rejected a third of Freedom of Information Act Requests last year.
Whatever could they be hiding?
Obama Nixes A Third Of FOIA Request
Pennsylvania’s Right To Know law still has some bugs to be worked out.
The law, Act 3 of 2008, took effect Jan. 1, 2009, and was much-needed improvement over the existing Sunshine Act.
But then who could have guessed the implicit conflict between the right to protect the privacy of public school teachers and the right to know where dog owners lived?
Yesterday, Delaware County Daily Times columnist Gil Spencer described how Lauren Marks wanted to know where dog owners lived in four zip codes in Delaware County. Ms. Marks runs a pet-sitting service and was looking for potential customers. Businesses have long used lists of registered voters, taxpayers and real estate transfers for similar things.
Ms. Marks made requests in Montgomery and Chester counties without issue.
Delco, however, felt uncomfortable about releasing the information. County Clerk and Open Records Officer Anne Coogan checked with Solicitor Frank Catania, who recommended the request be denied citing a recent court injunction barring the release of the home addresses of public school employees.
Ms. Marks appealed and the state directed Delco to release the information — after removing the names of the public school employees.
This is a ridiculous and an almost impossible demand, especially since Spencer says state Open Records Officer Executive Director Terry Mutchler has expanded the rule to prohibit the release of the addresses of every public employee in the state.
Spencer says Senate Majority Leader Domenic Pileggi (R-9) is preparing a fix.
And may people wake up to the understanding that transparency is much better than hiding behind a false sense of privacy.
The state open records law requires contracts worth more than $5,000 awarded since July 1, 2008 to be posted online and a list of 66 Senate contracts and leases was expected to have been so done last August but has not apparently due to software compatibility. The Senate chief clerk’s office uses more-advanced software to electronically transmit documents than with what Treasury is equipped.
If documents are available on searchable public Web sites, citizens don’t have to file right-to-know requests from offices and wait for a response.
Americans Want Bills Online Before Vote — A new Rasmussen Reports national telephony survey shows that 83 percent of Americans think legislation should be posted online in final form and available for everyone to read before Congress votes on it sans emergencies. Six percent don’t and 10 percent aren’t sure.
So why doesn’t Congress?
Americans Want Bills Online Before Vote