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Commonwealth Agencies Required to Process Right-To-Know Law Requests During Disaster Declarations

On July 27, 2020, House Bill 2463, which is described as restoring transparency in state government (“Act”), was enacted into law without the Governor’s signature. The Act amends the Administrative Procedures Act by prohibiting the Governor from directing a Commonwealth Agency to ignore requests for records or suspend the Commonwealth’s Agency’s process to answer a request for records during a disaster declaration. It further prohibits a Commonwealth Agency from suspending the process by which a Commonwealth Agency responds to a record request during a disaster declaration pursuant to the Right-To-Know Law.

The Act further requires that all Commonwealth Agencies that received requests for records pursuant to the Right-To-Know Law during the Disaster Declaration issued by the Governor on March 6, 2020, process the requests as if the request for records had been received by the Commonwealth Agency on the effective date of the Act.

A “Commonwealth Agency” is defined as “Any agency or commission of the executive branch under the policy, direction or supervision of the Governor.” As such, the Act does not apply to local municipalities or school districts in the Commonwealth. However, municipalities and school districts should be aware that if physical operations are closed by a disaster declaration, but employees are working remotely, the municipality or school district will likely be required to comply with the obligation to respond in accordance with the Right-To-Know Law.

If you have questions or concerns about processing Right-To-Know Law requests during the Disaster Declaration or in the instance physical operations would be shut down in the future, please do not hesitate to contact a member of the Municipal or School Group as applicable.

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