State employees shoot down VA open records access bill

From A subcommittee mostly comprised of state employees dropped a bill Tuesday that would have expanded rights to public records to non-Virginians.

And local government lobbyists were there to back them up.


Virginia is one of a handful of states in which public bodies aren’t required to respond to open records requests from out-of-state residents. The U.S. Supreme Court determined in a monumental decision this spring that it has every right to do so, backing those who support the status quo.


The only observer who stepped up to call for more transparency was Megan Rhyne, one of the state’s top advocates for transparency and executive director and lobbyist for the Virginia Coalition for Open Government. Rhyne said she was disappointed with the outcome, but had a theory on why the state representatives didn’t support changing the status quo.

“They’re on this board because FOIA is important to them,” Rhyne said. “They may not see the denials or the misinterpretations that other agencies or other localities do, because they do it the right way.”

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Virginia Coalition for Open Government is a member of NFOIC. –eds.