The PNA created a #transPArency Toolkit and asked members to evaluate their local governments. We have more than 20 members grading their governments. Their findings are below.
Contributing properties for this story include the Delaware County Daily Times and the Daily Local News in West Chester.
Contributing properties for this story include The Times Herald in Norristown, The Mercury in Pottstown and The Reporter in Lansdale
Sunshine Week is a national initiative to promote a dialogue about the importance of open government and freedom of information. Participants include news media, civic groups, libraries, nonprofits, schools and others interested in the public’s right to know.
Learn more about Sunshine Week
On March 14, House Resolution 717, sponsored by Rep. Rob Matzie (D-Beaver/Allegheny), was unanimously approved by the House, officially declaring March 13-19 as "Sunshine Week in Pennsylvania." Read more
The City of Lancaster enacted a proclamation declaring March 13-19, 2016 as Sunshine Week in Lancaster. Read more
The Sunshine Act and Right to Know Law are Pennsylvania’s primary public access laws. These laws guarantee the public’s right to access government information at public meetings and through public records. Public access to meetings and records is fundamental to the public’s ability to understand government actions and hold government officials accountable.
The Sunshine Act applies to public agencies, which include Pennsylvania executive branch agencies, the General Assembly, and municipal authorities, such as township boards of supervisors and local school boards. The Act requires agencies to hold public meetings any time a quorum deliberates agency business or takes official action. As with many laws, there are exceptions to the public meeting requirements of the Sunshine Act, but the law begins with a statement of intent, stressing the right of the public to witness the decision-making process to ensure that the democratic process functions properly.
The Right to Know Law applies to executive branch agencies and local agencies, including school districts, townships, other municipalities, and authorities. The law also applies on a limited basis to the General Assembly and to the court system’s financial records. The law begins with the presumption that records in the possession of government agencies are public records and must be provided within the framework of the law. There are exemptions to the law that allow agencies to deny public access, but the law places the burden of proof on an agency to show why a requested record is not public.
You can access the full text of the Sunshine Act and Right to Know Law from links on this page, as well as other resources and recent material related to proposed legislation that could impact public access laws in Pennsylvania.
Read the Sunshine Act Read the Right to Know Law
In 2016, the PNA and the PNA Foundation are presenting a panel discussions and free luncheon in honor of Sunshine Week. The panel will feature discussion on the state of open government in Pennsylvania. The panelists are: Erik Arneson, Executive Director, Office of Open Records; Scott Coburn, Esq., General Counsel Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors; Melissa Melewsky, Esq., Media Law Counsel, Pennsylvania NewsMedia Association; and Terry Mutchler, Esq., Pepper Hamilton, LLP (former Executive Director of the Office of Open Records).
The event is March 15 at 11:30 a.m. at Widener University Commonwealth Law School.
Learn more about the event and register here.
Legislative action needed for a stronger, brighter Sunshine Act
York Daily Record
Is Gov. Tom Wolf fully #transPArent?
Wilkes-Barre Times Leader Your government should be an open book; but is it?
Ten commandments for open meetings
Shine light in all corners of government
Aversion to scrutiny
The Morning Call Governments were forced to release a lot of interesting records last year
Delaware County Daily Times Sunshine Week raises call for transparency
Observer-Reporter (Washington) Shining a light on public information
York Dispatch Release the policy on police body cameras
The Daily Item
Shining the light on government
York Daily Record Let the sun shine on Pa. government
Beaver County Times It's time to shed a little light on Sunshine Week
LNP (Lancaster) During Sunshine Week, and every week, open government is good government
Daily American (Somerset) Creating transparency
Times-Tribune (Scranton) Falling short on openness
Patriot-News (Harrisburg) To force government to be transparent, go directly to the campaign trail
York Daily Record
York's cop cam plan must be #transPArent
Reading Eagle Sunshine Week a reminder of need for open government
What's wrong with the Sunshine Act?