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Allegheny

Allegheny County cancels unadvertised council meeting on lead testing

Theresa Clift
| Wednesday, April 26, 2017, 5:39 p.m.

Allegheny County Council canceled an unadvertised meeting that it scheduled for Wednesday afternoon about a proposal to require the county's children to be tested for lead.

The Tribune-Review questioned the legality of the meeting in a story published Tuesday . The Pennsylvania Sunshine Act requires public agencies to provide at least 24 hours' notice before holding meetings of a quorum of elected officials by advertising in a newspaper.

The county didn't advertise Wednesday's meeting.

Jared Barker, council's chief clerk and director of legislative services, said he did not know why the meeting was canceled or whether it would be rescheduled with a public notice.

County Solicitor Jack Cambest could not immediately be reached for comment Wednesday.

On Tuesday, Cambest told the Trib that the county didn't need to advertise the meeting because it was meant to be “purely informational.”

“No proposed regulation has been submitted to council. No regulation has been finalized by the health department. No agency business or deliberation will be undertaken at the meeting. If and when a regulation is submitted, the proper (advertisement) will be made,” Cambest said in an email.

Although public agencies aren't required under the Sunshine Act to advertise informational meetings at which no agency business is discussed or deliberated, Melissa Melewsky, the Pennsylvania NewsMedia Association's media law counsel, said it's in the county's interest to put out a public notice.

“It's better to advertise these meetings as public and just welcome the public in. That would remove all of these questions from constituents' minds,” Melewsky said.

At the meeting, county Health Department staffers planned to brief council members about a proposal to require all of the county's children to undergo blood screening for lead at ages 1 and 2.

The proposal has been introduced to the county's Board of Health, which plans to vote on it May 3. If passed, it will go to council for final approval.

Theresa Clift is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 412-380-5669 or tclift@tribweb.com. Follow her on Twitter via @tclift.

This story has been updated to identify the government agency considering the proposal.

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