PA House, Senate Refuse Request for Lobbyist Records

Here is an AP Story on the ruling by Pennsylvania House and Senate have ruled that lobbyist contact is not covered under the new Open Records law (HT to Grassroots PA).

I am of two minds on this question – it seems implausible to retain every communication (phone calls, memos, meeting, emails, etc.) with all lobbyists, to be able to provide on request. On the other hand, I don’t like the precedent this sets. Their ruling was based on the notion that lobbyist contacts were “not covered by the law’s definition of the types of ‘legislative records’ the public can get.”

But under the Open Records Law (click here for the PAFOIC quick guide), records are presumed to be public unless they are specifically exempted or the agency can demonstrate why they are not considered open records. This ruling seems to flip the presumption back how the old law worked – information would be not be released unless the citizen, media entity, or watchdog group, requesting the records could demonstrate why it is “open”.

More resources on Open Government in Pennsylvania.