HARRISBURG — A proposal to fully include Penn State and the other three “state-related” universities under the Pennsylvania Right-to-Know Law passed an early test in a committee vote Monday, although Democrats were split on the issue.
The State Government Committee approved the bill, which also would pertain to the University of Pittsburgh, Temple University and Lincoln University.
The four state-related universities get substantial state funding but are not state-owned, as are the 14 schools in the State System of Higher Education.
A complete rewriting of the Right-to-Know Law that took effect in January 2009 requires the schools to provide some records, including the salaries of their highest-paid employees, but exempts the great portion of their information from mandatory disclosure.
Rep. Mark Cohen of Philadelphia, the ranking Democrat on the committee, and one of the six “no” votes, said the four schools were accustomed to operating with more authority, and expressed concern about the cost to establish an open records officer and begin fielding requests.
Other schools, such as the University of Pennsylvania, get state funding but are “untrammeled” by the public records bill, Cohen said.