Open Record Law
In 2009 the Pennsylvania Legislature enacted a new open records law called the “Right to Know Law.”
The new law requires that a record in the possession of a state or local agency be presumed to be a public record unless otherwise specified by the law, shifting the burden of proof from the public to the government, which now must give a compelling reason why a record needs to remain confidential.
Information about Your Right to Know
The Right to Know Law applies to all state and local governments and school districts.
Examples of public records include:
Name, title, and salary of public officials and employees
Finalized agency meeting minutes
Communications between lobbyists and legislators
911 time response logs
Information that is not public includes:
Social Security, driver’s license, or employee numbers
Home, cellular or personal phone numbers
Personal financial information
Spouse’s name, marital status, beneficiary or dependent information
Home addresses of law enforcement and judges
Autopsy report information other than name, cause and manner of death
Records that identify social service recipients, including welfare recipients A minor’s name, home address, or date of birth
A person can make a request by mail or in person. Agencies are required to have appointed an open records officer to whom the request should be addressed. The North Coventry Township Open Records Officer is Kevin Hennessey, Township Manager.
The law allows agencies to charge reasonable fees for copying costs. Reasonable fees generally range from $.10 to $.25 per page for black-and-white copies. Specialized copying, such as color copies or blueprints, may be charged at a higher rate. Agencies may also charge postage to mail the records to a requestor. If fees are expected to exceed $100.00, the agency may require prepayment.
The Law requires agencies 5 days to respond to a request, however, they may request a 30 day extension under certain circumstances.
To Learn more about the Open Records Law and an applicant’s right to appeal a denial by the government agency, please visit the Open Records website.