House adopts Matzie resolution highlighting need for government transparency

HARRISBURG, March 20 – State Rep. Robert Matzie, D-Beaver/Allegheny, announced the adoption of H.R. 136 today, designating the week of March 12-18, 2017, as “Sunshine Week” in Pennsylvania, highlighting the importance of open and accessible government.

Established by the American Society of News Editors in 2005, Sunshine Week is celebrated by journalists, civic groups, educators, citizens and elected officials by discussing the importance of access to public information. The PA NewsMedia Association is responsible for organizing many of the Sunshine Week activities in Pennsylvania. House Resolution 136 also stresses the necessity to protect our constitutional principles, including freedom of speech and freedom of the press in the pursuit of a free and transparent government.

“Each year Sunshine Week coincides with James Madison’s birthday, widely considered the father of the U.S. Constitution and an architect of the Bill of Rights,” Matzie said. “Madison reminded us that knowledge and information are required for a free society to govern itself. The press is an indispensable tool for informing the public and as a legislator I support making government information more open and accessible when possible.”

At a time when public trust in government is extremely low, Sunshine Week emphasizes the need for government officials to ensure decision making processes are as public and accessible as possible. Sunshine Week highlights steps that citizens can take to participate in, and learn more about, the inner workings of their local, state and federal governments through tools like Pennsylvania’s Sunshine Act and Right to Know Law.

“It’s important Pennsylvanians know legislation is in place protecting their rights to know where their tax dollars are being spent and how decisions are being made,” Matzie said. “Our Sunshine Act and Right to Know Law ensure that when governments from school districts to the state House make decisions, they conduct their meetings in public and that government agency’s records are public records, with some exceptions. I applaud the PA NewsMedia Association and ASNE for ensuring that the public understands these laws and their rights during Sunshine Week and beyond.”

To learn more about the history, purpose and events surrounding Sunshine Week, visit the ASNE Sunshine Week website at sunshineweek.rcfp.org or the PA NewsMedia Association’s Sunshine Week page at panewsmedia.org/legal/sunshine-week.