Changes to state open records law. Governor Wolf held back his veto pen this week and allowed a bill changing the state’s Open Records Law to become law without his signature. House Bill 2463, sponsored by Rep. Seth Grove (R-York), would bar a governor or state agency from suspending responses to requests for records under the state’s Right-to-Know Law, which provides citizens with access to a range of government documents. Governor Wolf originally said he’d veto the measure citing concerns he says would adversely affect state employees. However, in a reversal of his position he said he would, “err on the side of transparency” and allow the bill to become law without his signature. The bill was introduced in April after many agencies in Wolf’s administration opted to forego responding to Right-to-Know Requests until their employees, who were working remotely as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, were able to return to their physical offices. This decision didn’t sit well with House and Senate Republicans and became the impedes for Rep. Grove’s legislation.
On the rise. The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (PTC) approved a six-percent toll increase for all E-ZPass rates systemwide last week. For non E-ZPass subscribers the increase will be 45%. The increase — slated to take effect at 12:01 a.m. on Jan. 3, 2021 — will enable the PTC to continue to maintain and operate its system and ensure safe travel for up to 500,000 daily customers. CEO Mark Compton said, “the primary driver of the annual toll-rate increases continues to be our quarterly transit payments to PennDOT and the resulting debt service that comes along with the legislatively mandated funding obligation. As a result, the PA Turnpike has delivered almost $7 billion in funding to PennDOT in the last decade, primarily to support mass-transit operations in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.”