In Pennsylvania, inquiring minds have a right to know.
The Right-To-Know (RTK) Law was passed in 2008 and took effect in 2009.
The law gives the public the right to ask to see public records and receive an explanation if they can't. The circumstances under which records are not public are laid out in the law. Otherwise, records are open.
The open records officers for the three largest government entities in Warren County, including the county itself, handled more than 100 total RTKs in 2013.
Warren County School District Open Records Officer Ruth Huck said the district fielded 53 RTKs in 2013. Of those, six were submitted by the Warren Times Observer. The most commonly requested records pertained to the departure of former Superintendent Brandon Hufnagel.
In the City of Warren, Open Records Officer Teena Leary received 30 RTKs, one of which was from the Times Observer. The largest percentage of those pertained to the building codes department, Leary said.
Pam Matve, open records officer for Warren County, saw 26 RTKs, none of which originated from the Times Observer. Many of the 26 asked for information on tax sales.
Youngsville Borough Manager Lisa Hagberg said the borough received six RTKs during the past year. Three related to tax issues and three to zoning. None were submitted by the Times Observer.
The law provides that all government records are presumed open except under specific circumstances that are specified in the law. Also, the law requires that agencies designate someone to be their open records officer.
Requests cannot be denied based on what the requester will do with the information.
An agency has five days to respond to a request and may ask for a 30-day extension, with cause.
Right-To-Know request forms can be found on many municipal websites. A generic form can be found on the state Department of Community and Economic Development's Office of Open Records website.