Presentation to District Attorneys

Office of Open Records LogoEarlier today, I spoke to a group of District Attorneys at a conference organized by the Pennsylvania State Association of Elected County Officials.

The conversation focused on the Right-to-Know Law and the unique role played by District Attorneys in terms of hearing appeals filed which are related to law enforcement records held by local agencies such as police departments. (Section 503(d)(2) of the RTKL.) It was a great conversation, and I appreciate the invitation.

Here’s the PowerPoint presentation I used:
District Attorneys – July 15, 2019 – PDF
District Attorneys – July 15, 2019 – PPTX

Presentation to County Treasurers

Office of Open Records LogoEarlier today, I spoke to a gathering of Pennsylvania’s elected county treasurers, hosted by the Pennsylvania State Association of Elected County Officials.

The session, part of a conference running June 11-14, was held in Cranberry Township, Butler County, and it focused on the Right-to-Know Law.

I very much appreciate the invitation.

Here’s the PowerPoint presentation I used:

County Treasurers – June 12, 2019 – PPTX
County Treasurers – June 12, 2019 – PDF

If you’re interested in training about the Right-to-Know Law and/or the Sunshine Act, please let us know.

Corporations Not “Individuals” Under RTKL

Office of Open Records LogoThe Commonwealth Court recently upheld an Office of Open Records decision finding that corporations are not “individuals” under the Right-to-Know Law exception allowing agencies to withhold donor identities (Section 708(b)(13)).

The specific case at issue involved California University of Pennsylvania and a request for records related to donations from Manheim Corporation to the Foundation for Cal U.

Here’s the Commonwealth Court decision, here’s the OOR decision from October 2018, and here’s the OOR docket sheet.

Sunshine Act Webpage Updated

Office of Open Records LogoThe Office of Open Records webpage about Pennsylvania’s Sunshine Act was updated recently.

We added four new sections:

  1. What’s considered deliberation?
  2. Can agency members participate in a meeting via telephone or video conference?
  3. Can official action be taken at a closed meeting?
  4. Can agency members discuss agency business via email and/or social media?

And made noteworthy updates to three sections:

  1. Can the public comment during public meetings?
  2. Can public meetings be recorded?
  3. Are there penalties for violating the Sunshine Act?

We also clarified that advance public notice is required for agency committee meetings, and that published notice must be in paid newspapers of general circulation (in addition to being posted on site).

The OOR does not have enforcement authority over the Sunshine Act, but Section 1310(a)(3) of the Right-to-Know Law authorizes (and in fact requires) the OOR to provide training on the Act. If you’re interested in training about the Sunshine Act and/or the Right-to-Know Law, please let us know.

Get a Daily Digest of All OOR Final Determinations

Office of Open Records LogoEach morning, Tuesday through Saturday, the Office of Open Records sends an email summarizing every Final Determination issued the prior day.

Reading that email each morning is a great way — probably the best way — to keep up to date on what issues are being decided in Right-to-Know Law appeals and how those issues are being decided.

If you deal with Pennsylvania’s RTKL on a regular basis, or you’re interested in Pennsylvania government transparency generally, I think it’s a must-read.

To subscribe, just head over to the OOR website and fill out this simple form. You can also choose whether or not you want to subscribe to our occasional, more general newsletter about issues related to the RTKL, the Sunshine Act, and government transparency.

Here’s a sample of what the email looks like:

Webinar – RTKL for Law Enforcement

Office of Open Records LogoThe Office of Open Records is hosting a webinar titled The Right-to-Know Law for Law Enforcement on Thursday, June 13, at 10 a.m.

This session, hosted by George Spiess, our Chief of Training and Outreach, will focus on those aspects of the Right-to-Know Law that are specific to police departments, such as investigatory records, the impact of Act 22 of 2017 (which covers police recordings), and CHRIA.

More information about the webinar is available on the OOR’s Training Calendar.

The OOR also has published a RTKL Guide for Law Enforcement Agencies.

Presentation to Media Requesters

This morning at the Office of Open Records in Harrisburg, I hosted a training session for a group of media requesters. The session focused on the Right-to-Know Law.

Here’s the PowerPoint presentation I used:

Media Requester Training – June 6, 2019 – PPTX
Media Requester Training – June 6, 2019 – PDF

If you’re interested in training about the Right-to-Know Law and/or the Sunshine Act, please let us know.