HARRISBURG – In spite of unanimous bipartisan support in both the House and Senate on legislation to require the governor and Commonwealth agencies to adhere to the state’s Right-to-Know (RTK) law even during an emergency declaration, Gov. Tom Wolf is threatening to veto the bill. Rep. Rob Kauffman (R-Franklin) released the following statement on the governor’s decision:
“The governor and his administration have been and continue to make countless decisions impacting the lives of every Pennsylvanian – from closing businesses and schools to sending COVID-19-positive patients back into vulnerable nursing homes. These decisions are being made in back rooms with next to no information being shared with the Legislature, the media or the very people these decisions are impacting.
“Now, more than ever, we need government to be transparent and open with the public. We need to know on what information these decisions are being based. We need our representative government and elected officials to be accountable to the people who put them in office. The secrecy surrounding these decisions is unfathomable.
“We have 70% percent of the deaths in Pennsylvania attributed to nursing homes and other long-term care homes, yet the administration has yet to answer why they made the decision to send sick patients back into those facilities.
“We also still don’t know why some businesses were allowed to continue to operate when others were shuttered earlier this spring under the governor’s orders and subsequent waiver policy.
“If we experience another surge during the pandemic, we need to be assured we have answers and understand the rationale behind the decisions being made. Greater transparency will serve both to build confidence in our leaders and get more people on board with compliance when needed.
“Every member of the House and Senate voted in favor of this legislation and the governor himself declared this week that if he were a legislator he would have voted for it as well, so why not sign it into law? What is he trying to hide? The people of Pennsylvania need and deserve answers, not secrecy.”
House Bill 2463
specifically prohibits the governor from directing a Commonwealth agency to ignore requests for records or suspend the agency’s process to answer a request for records during a disaster declaration. Agencies would also be prohibited from suspending their processes and could find themselves in court if they fail to respond.
Representative Rob Kauffman
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Tricia Lehman