2008-12-11 / Local & State

Rendell Backs Off Plan To Allow Redaction Charges

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Gov. Ed Rendell is backing away from a plan to let state agencies charge people extra for the cost of redacting nonpublic information from public records, a spokesman said Friday.

Rendell recently issued a management directive allowing charges for the labor involved in retrieving and redacting records, but that conflicted with a new fee policy established by Terry Mutchler, director of the state Office of Open Records.

Mutchler's policy limits photocopying fees to 25 cents per page under the expanded Rightto Know Law that will take effect Jan. 1.

Rendell spokesman Chuck Ardo said the governor's office decided to shelve the plan - at least until it can gather more information - in response to news stories about the conflicting rules.

"We'll have to see what the nature of the requests is over the next several months and whether we are facing an issue or not,'' Ardo said.

Mutchler, who worked as a state open records advocate in Illinois before Rendell appointed her to the Pennsylvania post, said she may be willing to consider allowing additional charges in the future but remains concerned about keeping the cost affordable.

"I want to start at ground zero,'' she said.

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