12 February 2008

Only Thing In The Way of Open Records in PA Is Ed Rendell

A solid law that took way too long to hammer out in our Legislature has finally cleared all the hurdles and is heading to Ed Rendell for signature that will help to bring more accountability to the government. It's a fairly brief article, but I'll still highlight two parts for you, first:

Instead of a narrow list of public records, the bill would force agencies to disclose all records beyond a list of exceptions, and the agency would have to prove a record they do not want to release can be secret under the law.

A central office would set policies and deal with disputes about what should be released. Penalties would be stiffer for agencies that violate the law. And it would require state agencies to respond faster when people request records.

Sounds pretty solid to me. The Republicans pretty much set the frame work for this one and the Dems helped out a bit too after the whole Pay Raise fiasco that will still have repercussions come this November. It's another one of those laws that should be in full effect for every state. What bothers me though was this paragraph from the article:

Gov. Ed Rendell will decide whether to sign the bill, which has undergone numerous revisions during the 13 months since it was first proposed, after he reviews its exact language, said Rendell spokesman Chuck Ardo.

He really can't be giving any real thought to vetoing this bill right? Ed Rendell has already made a mockery of the system here in PA, most recently by promoting his insane spending budget that increases spending dramatically, raises some taxes, and provides rebates for only the poorest of the poor, who aren't actually paying taxes anyway (it's called welfare). All this with a state surplus that he easily found a way to spend and then some which is quite remarkable. Rather than provide true tax relief and increase efficiency, he is doing THAT with the budget? Wow. To further demonstrate his economic prowess, he has already pretty much abandoned the idea of giving true property tax relief to seniors, lower class, working families, and the middle class that was supposed to be funded by the slots by miring it in bureaucracy and making it nearly impossible to qualify for, while shifting those revenues into more of his pet projects. Which brings me back to the initial point. I suppose he could actually be giving thought to vetoing this bill given the shenanigans he plays with the budget and pretty much everything else he does.

This should be a good voter guide issue for November and we should get a copy of how the voting went down. Anyone who voted against open records for government is fit to be booted from government regardless of party. You should really take the time to read this article here about concerns some lawmakers had with the bill that got hashed out in the final version. Amazingly, most of the concerns were legit. It turns out this was a pretty solid bipartisan effort.


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