Right To Know and Open Records
NEW Citizens' Guide to the RTKL & Sunshine Act
The OOR's Citizens' Guide to the Right-to-Know Law and Sunshine Act is an introduction to these two laws, both of which promote government transparency.
The Citizens' Guide has been completely rewritten and the new version is available now.
The RTKL, also known as the open records law, grants access to public records. The Sunshine Act, also known as the open meetings law, ensures access to public meetings.
Beginning in January 2009, provisions of Act 3 (also known as the Open Records amendment to the Pennsylvania Right-To-Know Law) took effect at all local and state agencies in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, including local municipal governments and school districts.
Act 3 expands the definition of "public record," making all records public - both electronic and hard copy - with 30 listed exemptions (such as records dealing with building security, personal safety, medical records, confidential personnel records and criminal investigations). Act 3 requires that municipalities designate an official Open Records Officer to accept written requests from the public and to ensure compliance with timelines and the law.
*Public bodies may fill anonymous verbal or written requests. If the requestor wishes to pursue the relief and remedies provided for in this Act, the request must be in writing. (Section 702.) Written requests need not include an explanation why information is sought or the intended use of the information unless otherwise required by law. (Section 703.)
RIGHT TO KNOW OFFICERS:
Joel Capellupo - Township Records
210 George St. Reading, PA 19605
Lorie Ferraro - PD Right to Know Officer
Muhlenberg Township Police Department
210 George St. Reading, PA 19605
POLICE RIGHT-TO-KNOWS -
The fee for dissemination of any and all accident reports will be $15.00 each.
Accident reports that are either reportable by Pennsylvania standards or non-reportable accidents may be released to any involved party submitting a request. The maximum fee allowable for accident reports is set by statute, contained within the Pennsylvania Vehicle Code.
All other requests for reports will be handled in accordance with the Pennsylvania Open Records Law, Act 3 of 2008. Fees for other records include the following:
Duplication/Photocopies $0.25 per page
Duplication of Specialized Documents Actual Cost
Certification of Public Records $1.00 per record
Mailing Fees Actual Cost
Facsimile/Microfiche/Other Media Actual Cost
Additional information, including a copy of the open records law and a Citizen’s Guide to the law, can be found at the PA Office of Open Records website. The PA Office of Open Records can be contacted at:
State Office of Open Records
Commonwealth Keystone Building
400 North Street, Plaza Level
Harrisburg, PA 17120-0225
Phone: (717) 346-9903 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Also, the PA Freedom of Information Coalition publishes a Quick Guide to aid in understanding the law.
Be advised--under the Right-to-Know Law, investigative reports are exempted from the definition of a public record. As such, any request for an investigative report will be denied. Criminal history information is not accessible under the Right-to-Know Law, but may be obtained through the submission of a Request for Criminal Record Check, Form SP 4-164, which is available on the Pennsylvania State Police website.
Appeals of denials based on a requested record being an investigative report can be directed to:
Berks County Office of the District Attorney Services Center,
5th Floor 633 Court Street Reading, PA 19601
Phone: (610) 478-6000 Email: email@example.com