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Politics & Government

PA's State-Related Universities Defend Open Records Status

Pennsylvania’s four state-related universities are arguing they should continue to receive special treatment under the commonwealth’s open records law.

State lawmakers are working on an update to the government transparency law last revised in 2008, which largely exempts Penn State, Pitt, Temple and Lincoln.

Valerie Harrison, general counsel for Lincoln University, says additional oversight would be cumbersome.

"The inclusion of Lincoln as a state agency under the Right to Know law would impose a substantial administrative workload and cost while providing little additional substantive information as to how state funding is spent," Harrison said.

The head of the state’s Office of Open Records says in other states she’s seen expand their transparency laws to universities, the schools have proven quite adept at dealing with records requests.

Interest in broadening the open records law was prompted by the Jerry Sandusky child abuse case at Penn State.

Many lawmakers have voiced interest in expanding the law so that campus police records, in particular, are presumed public documents, as well as other functions of the schools.

The four universities together receive more than 500 million dollars from the state.