Modernization Legislation is now Law
HARRISBURG- A bill
has been signed into law by the governor that will give the public easier
access to court records and save taxpayer money.
Matt Smith of Allegheny County amended his judicial modernization proposal into
a House Bill that will give the public easier access to court records and save
Bill 1337 was signed into law by Gov. Corbett on Wednesday. Senator Smith
sponsored Senate Bill 372, which expands the authorized methods of recording
and storing judicial records to include optical imaging technology, in which
data is scanned and stored electronically, in contrast to the current use of
microfilm or microfiche. The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission was
consulted to ensure that judicial records are properly preserved. That bill was amended into HB 1337.
“By allowing courts to make the switch and
utilize current and future technological best practices, we will save taxpayer
Smith said. The plan received the
backing of the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania and Allegheny
County Executive Rich Fitzgerald.
County reports an estimated yearly savings of $230,000 in storage costs, and
expects additional savings moving forward with the signing of this legislation
Smith also praised the underlying bill sponsored by a Luzerne County Republican
lawmaker that increases state funding for low-income legal services across
Pennsylvania for situations of domestic violence, potential loss of housing,
and custody disputes, among other issues. The new law increases a court surcharge from $1 to $2 that is dedicated to
civil legal services.
Bill 1337 funds important programs, like Neighborhood Legal Services
Association, to ensure that low-income individuals have adequate access to
legal aid,” said Senator Smith, a former board member on the Neighborhood Legal
Services Association of Western Pennsylvania.