The new right-to-know law doesn’t work because too many people are using it, says one municipal official in a blog post by Paul Muschick of the Allentown Morning Call. In his “Watchdog” blog, Muschick reports on two proposed bills that would allow municipalities to charge more for certain kinds of requests or requests to which the response would exceed 100 copied pages.
Open-records advocates have traditionally seen raising the cost of records as a way to limit access. Pennsylvania’s RTK law allows agencies to charge “reasonable” fees for copies, which are supposed to be based on what it costs for a copy at a local business.
The open-records office set the fee at between 10 cents and 25 cents per copy — and, no surprise, most agencies charge 25 cents, significantly more than a copy costs at a local business.
All that said, nobody wants municipal governments to get so tied up in filling open records requests that they can’t function (though something tells me that’s not happening). It will be interesting to see how these proposals fare in Harrisburg.