Local governments and the agencies they consist of must abide by certain laws regarding transparency. In Pennsylvania, these laws are often more complex than some realize.
If you are involved in the operations of local government and you have questions on this topic, we at N. Stotler Law can answer them. Attorney Stotler is on hand to ensure you are operating within the requirements of the law. Topics we can help you navigate include:
Understanding Pennsylvania’s Sunshine Act is critical for local governments. The Sunshine Act plays an essential role in transparency and accountability.
The Sunshine Act essentially states that any government agency, when deliberating on or making decisions within said agency’s purview, must do so in meetings that are open to the public. The public must be offered prior notice of these meetings so that citizens can attend and make comments before agencies officialize any of their decisions.
This may seem fairly straightforward. However, sometimes there is confusion within local governments regarding certain elements of the Sunshine Act.
For example, depending on the structure of a particular local government, there may be questions regarding what constitutes an agency to which the Sunshine Act applies. There may also be some confusion regarding what types of gatherings qualify as meetings which are legally required to be open to the public. Additionally, some local government leaders have questions about what constitutes an official act, which topics may be considered official agency business, what deliberation consists of, and more.
Don’t worry if you’re not certain whether the agencies that comprise your local government are all operating in accordance with Pennsylvania’s Sunshine Act. We can help you navigate what may be a surprisingly complex topic.
It is generally agreed upon in virtually all states and commonwealths that citizens should have reasonable access to various types of government records. However, there are instances when it may be necessary to prohibit the public from accessing certain records due to such potential factors as attorney-client privilege, confidentiality issues, and more.
Pennsylvania’s current Right-To-Know Law serves to establish which types of records members of the public should have access to. It establishes the processes citizens must file to request records, as well as the processes agencies, must follow to comply with these requests. It also defines what an agency can do to show that a particular record should not be accessible to the public. Additionally, it addresses practical matters, such as the fees citizens may need to pay when requesting access to records.
This is another essential but nuanced local government transparency topic that can be easily misunderstood. You don’t want your government agencies to be found guilty of violating Pennsylvania law due to a failure to properly abide by the provisions of the Right-To-Know law.
Avoid this by working with our government transparency consulting specialists. We will ensure you are following the law as it is currently written.