Supreme Court: Governor overstepped authority in removing Arneson from open records post

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that Gov. Tom Wolf overstepped his authority in removing Erik Arneson from his appointed post of Executive Director of the Office of Open Records.

In so holding, the court said it is writing not only to endorse the Commonwealth Court opinion keeping Arneson at his post, but also to amplify the holding in terms of the independence of the Office of Open Records.

“It is undisputed that the OOR, with its Executive Director at the helm, is a unique administrative agency tasked with applying the standards established in the RTKL and making decisions about whether government agencies and officials, including the executive branch and the office of the Governor, have acted timely, carried their burden of establishing why a record is not subject to public access, as well as myriad other issues,” the opinion by Justice Max Baer stated.  

“We view the Commonwealth Court’s analysis in this case to rest on the OOR’s status as a unique, independent agency charged with the delicate task of applying the RTKL, and the need to insulate the OOR and its Executive Director from the potential for coercive influence from a Governor to accomplish the purpose of the RTKL."

Tuesday, October 27, 2015/Author: Jason Gottesman
Categories: News and Views
How open will Senate’s Kane review committee be?

How open will Senate’s Kane review committee be?

The Special Committee on Senate Address, which is the instrument the Senate is using to look into whether or not it has grounds to begin removal proceedings against Attorney General Kathleen Kane, was formally announced Monday.

The committee will be chaired by Sen. John Gordner (R-Columbia) and further consist of Senators Lisa Baker (R-Luzerne), Gene Yaw (R-Lycoming), Judy Schwank (D-Berks), Sean Wiley (D-Erie), and Art Haywood (D-Montgomery).

Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati (R-Jefferson) will be serving on the committee as a voting ex officio member.

The scope of the committee is to investigate whether Attorney General Kathleen Kane can continue to do her job with a suspended law license. If it determines she cannot, that finding may be grounds for the Senate to utilize its rarely-tapped constitutional power of removal.

Monday, October 26, 2015/Author: Jason Gottesman
Categories: News and Views
GOP budget discussions remain in a preliminary phase

GOP budget discussions remain in a preliminary phase

For the second time in two weeks the leadership team from both Republican caucuses in the General Assembly held a closed-door meeting to try to reach a meeting of the minds on a new budget proposal and for the second week in a row they have yet to come to a lock-step agreement on how to move forward with a fresh budget plan.

While he said the discussions are going “very good,” Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati (R-Jefferson) also said the talks are still “very preliminary.”

“We certainly are continuing to look for solutions to solve the budget and the parameters we’re working in are none of the broad-based tax increases,” he said.

He added there has been no agreement between Republicans on what other revenue could be used to support a final budget product.

Monday, October 26, 2015/Author: Jason Gottesman
Categories: News and Views
Senators call for continuous session until state budget agreement is reached

Senators call for continuous session until state budget agreement is reached

While the House added voting session days for the first two weeks of November, after session concludes this week in the Senate the chamber is not scheduled to return to voting session until November 16, when it will come into session for three days before recessing until early December.

Late last week, calls began to mount for the Senate to return to session until a budget agreement is reached, with Sen. Art Haywood (D-Montgomery) and Sen. John Blake (D-Lackawanna) calling on the body to remain in session continuously until that time.

Monday, October 26, 2015/Author: Jason Gottesman
Categories: News and Views
VIDEO: Petrarca resolution establishes Pennsylvania Education for Youth Experiencing Homelessness Awareness Week

VIDEO: Petrarca resolution establishes Pennsylvania Education for Youth Experiencing Homelessness Awareness Week

In a Monday afternoon press conference, Rep. Joe Petrarca (D-Westmoreland) introduced HR 544, which would designate the week of Nov. 2-6 as Pennsylvania Education for Youth Experience Homelessness Week and Nov. 6 as Red Shirt Day in the state.  

Monday, October 26, 2015/Author: Alanna Koll
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