– Rep. Frank Ryan (R-Lebanon) won a major victory this week when the Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH) finally surrendered data he requested more than a year ago. At issue is the data the Wolf administration used to prevent Lebanon County businesses from reopening following the statewide shutdown.
Last year, after several weeks of arbitrary and confusing executive orders that were largely unexplained and forced the shutdown of businesses and put people out of work, Ryan and several of his Republican colleagues moved to pass Act 77 of 2020
. The bill strengthened Pennsylvania’s Right-to-Know Law by clarifying what information would be considered a public record during a disaster declaration and requiring disclosure of the process used to collect data and any models produced to establish rules and policies in a disaster declaration. It was this legislation that ultimately gave Ryan the data he was seeking.
“Business owners and residents were disenfranchised by the administration’s prolonged shutdown orders and Lebanon County was the last to emerge,” said Ryan. “I filed a Right-to-Know (RTK) request with the Department of Health to obtain the data it used to justify keeping Lebanon County closed when the rest of the state was open.
“After the DOH denied my request, I appealed to the Office of Open Records, which ordered the DOH to comply. Instead, the department took the matter to court and I have waited nearly a year for my case to be heard. This week, just days before the case was to be heard, the department handed over the data I had requested.
“My colleagues and I have been frustrated by the administration’s general lack of transparency during this pandemic and its decisions have caused great harm to businesses, workers and our economy,” said Ryan. “I am pleased my appeal was successful and the DOH finally complied. It is unfortunate it had to take this long. I am hopeful the administration will be more cooperative and forthcoming as we work to move our Commonwealth past this pandemic.”
“This was a huge win for the residents of Pennsylvania and ensures the open and transparent government they deserve,” said Rep. Seth Grove (R-York), the prime sponsor of Act 77. “While the Wolf administration attempted to shield critical information from the public using an archaic law from the 1950s, the sunshine of transparency and good government won the day.”