The Pennsylvania House yesterday approved House Bill 2463 to require state agencies to answer questions from the public, and particularly the media, during emergency declarations. The legislation now goes to the Senate for considertation.
In response to the House vote Rep. Seth Grove’s (R-Dover) issued the following statement:
“Government transparency cannot stop during times of crisis. The people have the right to petition their government and the media has the right to question government officials.
“Unfortunately, Gov. Tom Wolf has taken the opportunity afforded to him by the COVID-19 crisis to allow state agencies to not answer right-to-know requests (RTK) by the media and the general public as required by law. This is unacceptable. The people and the press have a right to question the government and, equally important, to receive answers to their questions.
“House Bill 2463 would require state agencies to respond to RTK requests. Under the bill, if an agency has been forced to close its physical location, it must follow procedures established by the nonpartisan Office of Open Records (OOR). These procedures must take into consideration the difficulties faced by Commonwealth agencies due to COVID-19 and any potential future emergency declarations to establish fair policies for responding to an RTK request.
“The administration’s reaction to the crisis has been marred with controversy and has generated serious questions. It has been nearly impossible to get answers to any of the questions because agencies simply are not answering them. I hope House Bill 2463 is passed by the Senate and signed into law to provide the people with an answer to their questions.
“I appreciate the American Civil Liberties Union for recognizing this issue and for its support of the bill.”
Tom Wolf: Legislature Cannot End Disaster Declaration Unilaterally