Terry Mutchler Discusses the Transparency in Pennsylvania’s Opioid Settlement Spending in Spotlight PA

March 07, 2024

Terry Mutchler, Chair of Obermayer’s Transparency & Public Data Practice, was quoted in Spotlight PA on March 6, 2024, regarding Pennsylvania’s Opioid Settlement Spending. As Pennsylvania counties prepare to disclose their utilization of millions of dollars from initial opioid settlement payments, concerns arise regarding transparency in the oversight process. Members of the Pennsylvania Opioid Misuse and Addiction Abatement Trust will meet in private working groups, defying a court order mandating compliance with PA’s Sunshine Act.

Terry, who is the former executive director of the state Office of Open Records, stated that these smaller group meetings should be public, emphasizing that there is no wiggle room when it comes to transparency requirements.

“To try to subvert that through a working committee I think is inappropriate — and I think, quite frankly, it’s sad.”

The planned private meetings are the latest way that the trust board is distancing its operations from public oversight and input. A quorum of the full trust board met in secret and held votes for several months. Unlike many boards that follow the Sunshine Act in Pennsylvania and unlike at least some opioid settlement boards in other states, the trust doesn’t allow the public to speak during meetings. Additionally, many records of the trust are not available to the public. 

Terry publicly criticized this decision, labeling it “a huge mistake.” 

Read the full article here