I’m terribly deficient at covering what is now the year-long fight to improve public access to government documents in Pennsylvania, partly because the volume of news stories and blog posts from that one state has been so high.
Due to the doggedness of the state’s media and key grassroots activists, today, Gov. Rendell is signing SB 1.
The best feature of SB1 is that it shifts the burden of proof. Before SB1 becomes law, the burden of proof was on a requestor to establish that the record he wanted was public. Now, the burden of proof will be on a government agency to establish that a requested record is exempt. Otherwise, the assumption will be that it is public and must be provided.
Since we’ve been following the wonderful Pass Open Records, we know that getting to today has been a circuitous route with many obstacles.
Another bit of good news today from Pennsylvania is that Judge Doris Smith-Ribner has ordered the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency to pay $48,000 in legal fees to three news organizations that sought, but were denied (for no good reason), records from that state agency.