May. 08, 2019

HARRISBURG – Legislation that would allow a fee to be charged for certain right-to-know requests, sponsored by Rep. Justin Simmons (R-Lehigh/Montgomery/Northampton), was reported out of the House State Government Committee Monday. House Bill 283 will now be considered by the full House of Representatives.

Simmons’ proposal would permit local and state agencies to charge additional search, review and duplication fees when responding to public record requests made for a commercial purpose. The fees, to be approved by the state Office of Open Records, must be reasonable and cannot be established with the intent or effect of excluding individuals from access to records.

“Local government offices with small staffs can be flooded by numerous public records requests from businesses seeking information for the marketing of various products and services. As a result, taxpayers who pay their salaries are shortchanged because the overwhelmed staff is handling these many business requests,” said Simmons. “I believe my legislation will balance the importance of the public’s right to know with preserving the ability of our local governments to effectively serve residents.”

Under House Bill 283, print and broadcast journalists and nonprofit organizations would be exempt from paying the fee.

Representative Justin Simmons
131st District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Media Contact: Andy Briggs
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