New Virginia law brings public meetings into digital age

 RICHMOND – Bringing government further into the digital age, the General Assembly has given final approval to two bills aimed at modernizing how members of city councils, school boards and other public bodies attend and hold meetings using electronic technologies.

HB 906 and HB 908 make it easier for public officials and citizens to attend meetings remotely and restrict public officials from texting each other during meetings. Del. Roxann Robinson, R-Chesterfield, introduced both bills.

The bills would amend Virginia’s Freedom of Information Act, which ensures that citizens have access to public records upon request and the right to attend public government meetings.

Thursday, the Senate joined the House in unanimously passing the two bills. They now go to Gov. Ralph Northam to be signed into law.

Virginia Freedom of Information Advisory Council, a state agency that resolves FOIA disputes, recommended the measures. The council consulted Virginia Coalition for Open Government, a nonpartisan and nonprofit organization that works to improve public access to government records and meetings. The coalition’s executive director, Megan Rhyne, said her group didn’t have any objections to the legislation. Read more…