Bill Expanding Universities' Open Records Requirements Passes House Committee

Tim Goral's picture

Legislation that broadens the state’s Right to Know Law requirements on Penn State, Pitt, Temple and Lincoln universities won the House State Government Committee’s approval.

Passing by a 17-6 vote, it is the first time legislation that would bring the four institutions under the state's Right to Know Law umbrella passed the initial hurdle of getting out of a legislative committee.

The legislation’s sponsor, Rep. Kerry Benninghoff, R-Centre, said his bill is intended to make the transparency requirements consistent across all of the state’s public higher education institutions.

He said records exempted from disclosure under the Right to Know law are enough to address the concerns that the universities have raised about proprietary nature and donor lists.

“We’re not breaking new ground here,” he said. “This is happening very frequently in other states.”

The legislation maintains the current requirements that these institutions continue to provide their Internal Revenue Service 990 and a list of the 25 highest-paid employees.

But additionally, it would subject them to the broader disclosure rules that apply to state agencies and the 14 state universities and 14 community colleges.

Penn State, Pitt and Temple officials have vociferously opposed this push to demand fuller disclosure. They argue that it would have a profound negative impact on the their institution in terms of workload, cost and employee recruitment and retention.

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