HARRISBURG – Following numerous unneeded hurdles put in place by the Wolf administration to shield information from a state government research agency and, extension, all Pennsylvanians, the House Health Committee today approved legislation by Reps. Kate Klunk (R-Hanover) and Torren Ecker (R-Abbottstown) to ensure the agency has access to information so it can perform needed research.
Last year, the Wolf administration’s Department of Health declined to provide the Legislative Budget and Finance Commission (LBFC) needed data on COVID-19 deaths, claiming the commission wasn’t privy to the information because it is not one of the many “agencies of government.”
“We wanted to make it perfectly clear that the LBFC is entitled to information it needs to complete reports and drafted House Bill 2441
to specifically spell out that it is an agency of government,” Klunk said. “It is my hope that these changes will protect the LBFC’s right to information going forward and prevents such stunts the administration tried to pull in the past.”
The legislation stems from Klunk’s House Resolution 1087, which instructed the LBFC to collect data and complete a report on COVID-19 deaths. However, the report was delayed by almost a year because of the roadblocks put in place by Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration. In addition to the Department of Health’s false claims that the LBFC wasn’t an agency of government, it also said the report did not meet “research purposes.”
In its report, the LBFC recommended that the General Assembly move to update the law to specifically state that it is entitled to vital records to complete research. House Bill 2441 would also spell out that the Joint State Government Commission is permitted to review and receive vital records.
“This bill would, without a doubt, declare that these state government agencies have access to the information they need to perform their duties,” Ecker said. “By advancing this bill, we are clearly asserting that the administration cannot, and will not be allowed to, hide information from co-equal branches of government.”
House Bill 2441 is in the full House awaiting consideration.
Representative Kate A. Klunk
169th Legislative District
Representative Torren Ecker
193rd Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Greg Gross