On February 14, Govenor Rendell signed Senate Bill1 which the Pennsylvania Senate had unanimously approved. The law makes some major revisions to the Pennsylvania Right-to-Know Law. Parts of the new law are immediately effective, such as the change in definitions. Included in these are new definitions for what is a "record." Other parts of the law will go into effect July 1, 2008 and the rest on January 1, 2009.
Some of the other highlights of the new law are:
- reverses the presumption and now puts the burden of proof on the government agency denying the access request
- establishes the Office of Open Records, housed in the Department of Community and Economic Development; this office will establish standard fees for photocopies and standard records request forms
-provides a list of 29 exceptions for executive agencies and local agencies, including criminal investigations, Social Security numbers, personal financial information, and individual medical records
-increases the fines for officials who violate the law and allows the awarding of legal fees for bad faith actions by government officials