Sunshine Week 2019
March 10 - 16, 2019
Representative Rob Matzie (D-Beaver, Allegheny) has introduced House Resolution 111 in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, which designates the week of March 10-16 as “Sunshine Week.”
2019-20 Legislative Session
Representative Jim Cox (R-Berks) sent co-sponsor memo HCO 24, which requires government agencies to make meeting agendas available to the public prior to all public meetings.
PNA supports this legislation and encourages you to reach out to your local legislator asking them for their support.
2017-18 Legislative Session
PNA sent letters to members of the House State Government Committee pushing movement on House Bills 37 and 1531 amending the Sunshine Act. House Bill 37 requires agencies to obtain legal advice before calling an executive session, to make a verbatim recording of executive sessions and other provisions that promote compliance with the law. House Bill 1531 requires agencies to provide detailed meeting agendas to the public prior to all public meetings and preclude agencies from taking official action on matters that do not appear on the meeting agenda.
What are the Sunshine Act and Right to Know Law?
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, as well as other resources and recent material related to proposed legislation that could impact public access laws in Pennsylvania.
Share and publish our Sunshine Week editorial
PNA President, Brad Simpson, has written an editorial that shines the light on the importance of truth, fact, transparency and the freedom of information.
Please feel free to publish this editorial in your own publication(s) the week of March 10 to remind readers across the Commonwealth that freedom of information through an open government is the bedrock of democracy, and is absolutely essential so we can share the factual news they deserve to receive, by supporting this campaign.