State House Sound Bites

Capitol reporter Katie Meyer covers Pennsylvania politics and issues at the Pennsylvania state capitol.
State House Sound Bites Podcast: NPR | iTunes | Google Play

Bill to record private meetings could crack down on agenda changes

Written by Mary Wilson, Former Capitol Bureau Chief | Mar 13, 2014 3:55 PM

Photo by Pa. Legislature website

The lawmaker who wants to require entities like school boards and city councils to record their private meetings is also angling to make them give advance notice of agenda changes.

A bill by Rep. Rick Saccone (R-Allegheny) got a committee hearing this week. A vote hasn't been scheduled yet. Saccone said he wants to tweak the bill to require any changes to agendas be made with some advance notice to the public. At this point, he's thinking 24 or 48 hours might work.

"People put things on the agenda at the last minute without informing the public," Saccone said, "Why would the public come if they don't know what's going to be talked about that night, or if someone's going to slip something in at the end that they want to get through?"

The measure would require state and local agencies and boards to keep recordings of their closed-door "executive sessions" for one year - not for dissemination, but for reference by judges called in to settle any challenges about whether closed-door meetings should have been public. The bill adds some specifications to those rules, too.

At a hearing this week, one critic pointed out that the law Saccone is trying to change doesn't apply to the General Assembly. Caucus meetings would remain shrouded. Saccone doesn't think that concern should sink his bill.

"If somebody wants to put in a bill - it might even be me later - to try to get the General Assembly to vote itself not to be exempted from this, that's a separate issue," Saccone said. "It'll be a much harder row to hoe. I'm trying to fix what's in the current law before I try to institute some other change or new law."

Over on Saccone talks about all the kudos he gets for his bill. "Everywhere I go, I get high fives."

Published in State House Sound Bites

back to top

Give Now

Support for WITF is provided by:

Become a WITF sponsor today »

Latest News from NPR

Support for WITF is provided by:

Become a WITF sponsor today »