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Monday, June 15, 2009

Will Rendell's Closed-Door Cabinet Meeting Violate Sunshine Law?

Today, Governor Rendell announced an "emergency cabinet meeting" to discuss the state budget, and state the meeting will be closed to the public.

But wouldn't such a closed-door meeting violate the Pennsylvania Sunshine Act?  By my lay reading of the law, it would:

65 Pa.C.S.A. § 702. Legislative findings and declaration

The General Assembly finds that the right of the public to be present at all meetings of agencies and to witness the deliberation, policy formulation and decisionmaking of agencies is vital to the enhancement and proper functioning of the democratic process and that secrecy in public affairs undermines the faith of the public in government and the public's effectiveness in fulfilling its role in a democratic society. ...

65 Pa.C.S.A. § 703. Definitions
 "Agency." The body, and all committees thereof authorized by the body to take official action or render advice on matters of agency business, of all the following: the General Assembly, the executive branch of the government of this Commonwealth, including the Governor's Cabinet when meeting on official policymaking business ...
 There are some exemptions, but the one most likely to apply is "executive session" if the cabinet is meeting to discuss employment or ... wait for it ... to renegotiate labor contracts.  Hmmm...

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