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Pennsylvania's Sunshine Act (Open Meetings Law): Comments Questions from Residents at Public Meetings, Recording Meetings- ALL are Permitted!

Pennsylvania's Sunshine Act (Open Meetings Law): Comments Questions from Residents at Public Meetings, Recording Meetings- ALL are Permitted! | Newtown News of Interest | Scoop.it

Can the public comment during public meetings?
Yes. The Sunshine Act gives the public the right to comment on issues "that are or may be before the board." Agencies must provide a reasonable opportunity for residents and/or taxpayers to comment on an issue before a decision takes place.

Can the public ask questions during the comment period?
Yes. Although members of the agency are not required to provide an answer, it is a good practice to do so whenever possible. Answering questions can demonstrate a commitment to helping constituents and, in many cases, answering questions informally at a public meeting can reduce future requests under the Right-to-Know Law, which saves time and money for both the agency and the commenter / requester.

Can public meetings be recorded?
Yes. The Sunshine Act allows meetings to be recorded with an audio recorder or a video recorder. It also allows agencies to issue reasonable rules concerning the use of recording devices in order to avoid any disruptions. However, such rules cannot be an attempt to prevent a member of the public from recording a meeting.

The law does not require the recording of a public meeting to be announced in advance; however, it may be helpful for the chairperson in the opening statements to alert the public that the meeting might be recorded.

 

More rights of citizens...

johnmacknewtown's insight:

You might have attended a Newtown Township public meeting where the chairperson has said that the public may make comments but cannot ask questions. I know I have heard that more than once at Board of Supervisors meetings. The law, however, allows questions to be asked, but the board, commission (i.e., agency covered by the Sunshine Law) is not required to answer questions.

 

Also, it is not required that you announce that you will be recording public meetings. If you are asked to do so, you may remain silent or cite the law.

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Newtown News of Interest
These Scoops are excerpts from articles published in local newspapers and other sources that may be of interest to Newtown area residents. Please click on the "From" link to access the full original article. Any opinions and "insights" appended to these article summaries are solely those of John Mack and do not represent the opinions of any other person or entity.
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