PA House Votes To Allow Agency Commercial Records Request Fees

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HARRISBURG, PA (WSKG) — State House lawmakers have voted to let state and local governments charge new fees for right-to-know requests, if the requestor plans to use the records for commercial purposes.

The bill now goes to the Senate.

Matt Rourke/The Associated Press

Shown is the Pennsylvania Capitol in Harrisburg, Pa. on the Wednesday, April 10, 2019. (Matt Rourke / The Associated Press)

The additional fees are intended to apply specifically to records that companies are reselling, using to market products, or making money with in some other way.

In his memo explaining his bill to fellow lawmakers, Lehigh County Representative Justin Simmons, a Republican, said he’s trying to look out for constituents of his who have been “flooded” with information requests from companies.

He says often, local governments don’t have the budget to fill all the requests.

The bill gives governments leeway to decide how high new fees should be, but says they must be “reasonable,” and the Office of Open Records has to approve them. They also can’t be enacted in order to exclude specific businesses from records.

The measure passed with bipartisan support, though fifteen House Democrats voted against it.