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Lawmakers closing Penn State FOIA loophole

Pennsylvania lawmakers are moving to revoke Penn State University's exemption from the state FOIA law in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal.

The state's House State Government Committee earlier today forwarded a bill to the full House, 17-6, that would make Penn State and three other previously exempt universities subject to FOIA, which in Pennsylvania is called the Right to Know Law.

A full House vote on the bill, which you can read here, could come as early as Wednesday.

Penn State is one of four universities that are privately managed yet receive taxpayer funding. Penn State in the most recent fiscal year received $227.7 million, just under half of the $514.8 million taxpayers paid to the four schools.

When Pennsylvania lawmakers beefed up the Right to Know Law in the wake of several scandals, then-University President (and now indicted fired Ex-President) Graham Spanier successfully wrangled Penn State an exemption from the law.

I blogged at great length last year about how Sandusky could have been stopped years earlier had the university not been given a free pass from disclosure.

The bill's sponsor, Republican Kerry Benninghoff, echoed those concerns in his memo to lawmakers expressing support for the reform.

"It is disturbing to think what we and the public could have known about the revelations at Penn State if the Right to Know Law had offered greater access to that institution’s records," Benninghoff wrote.

Should the reform clear both houses, hopefully Gov. Tom Corbett does the right thing and sign it into law, despte the fact that he's suing to have the NCAA's much-deserved sanctions against Penn State thrown out.

This bill is a win-win-win, in my opinion. The government wins because it regains some trust. Pennsylvania's taxpayers win because they get some more accountability.

And I win, because I just love watching the alumni and young "adults" at Penn State put on a show by pulling their hair, flopping to the ground and crying, "But it's not faaaaaiiiiir!"

Don't disappoint me should this become law, kids.

Senior Writer Kevin Craver can be reached at kcraver@shawmedia.com.

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