Pennsylvania Freedom of Information

The Pennsylvania Right to Know Act and the Pennsylvania Sunshine Law provide freedom of information in the state of Pennsylvania.  The Pennsylvania Right to Know Act is a series of laws designed to guarantee that the public has access to the public records of governmental bodies in Pennsylvania.  A new law passed by the state legislature on January 1, 2009 states, in sharp distinction to the previous law, that all documents will be presumed to be open to the public unless the agency holding them can prove otherwise.  The new law says, “unless otherwise provided by law, a public record shall be accessible for inspection and duplication by a requester in accordance with this act.”

The Pennsylvania Sunshine Act provides the methods by which public meetings are conducted.  Chapter 65 statutes 701-716 of the Pennsylvania code define the law.  The statement of purpose of the Open Meetings Act states, “the General Assembly finds that the right of the public to be present at all meetings of agencies and to witness the deliberation, policy formulation and decision making of agencies is vital to the enhancement and proper functioning of the democratic process and that secrecy in public affairs undermines the faith of the public in government and the public’s effectiveness in fulfilling its role in a democratic society. The General Assembly hereby declares it to be the public policy of this Commonwealth to insure the right of its citizens to have notice of and the right to attend all meetings of agencies at which any agency business is discussed or acted upon as provided in this chapter.”

Inside Pennsylvania Freedom of Information