New Castle News, Editorial Ė Sept. 28, 2011 New Castle News Wed Sep 28, 2011, 09:58 AM EDT
NEW CASTLE ó If you want to know what government agencies in Pennsylvania are doing, your success is likely to be varied.
Thatís because Pennsylvaniaís relatively new open records law, along with its rapidly aging Sunshine Law, are not quite up to speed with the Internet era.
We cite a press release issued last week by the Pennsylvania Game Commission, announcing its upcoming meeting Oct. 3 and 4.
This agency posts its agendas online before each meeting. These can be found at its website, http://www.pgc.state.pa.us.
And get this: If you canít attend the sessions in Harrisburg, you can watch online, as the commission will webcast staff reports and agenda items.
Plus, the press release noted that minutes from the commissionís June 28 meeting are available on its website.
Now, we can appreciate there is significant interest around the commonwealth regarding the game commission and matters before it. There are a lot of hunters, landowners and outdoor-oriented businesses who are impacted to one degree or another by what the game commission does.
Not every state agency, board or commission has such a large number of followers. But even still, we think the game commission is setting a standard of openness that other entities ought to emulate, at least to some degree.
While webcasts may not be necessary, it should to be easy for agencies to post agendas and minutes online. But that doesnít always happen, because state law does not require it.
Folks in Lawrence County, for instance, might want to keep a close eye on the Pennsylvania Harness Racing Commission and what itís doing. But donít waste your time going online for agendas and meeting minutes.
Similarly, local governments could post this sort of information for their meetings. Currently, agendas for Lawrence County commissioners meetings are posted (sometimes), as are those for New Castle City Council. Other agendas, including school board meetings around the county, are not available online.
State law ought to require the openness thatís now possible with the Internet. But absent that, the game commission is demonstrating that government agencies can act on their own to keep the public informed.