Virginia lawmaker wants to cut FOIA fees, but some in government are pushing back

Danica Roem, a former journalist who serves in the Virginia House of Delegates, has introduced legislation requiring Virginia public bodies to fulfill records requests for free, unless the request takes more than two hours of staff time to fulfill. Critics of the bill said FOIA requests sometimes are used to “harass” public officials, and the…

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Editorial: Public has a right to see criminal records

Like every other human behavior, crime has consequences, and not only for victims and their families. Perpetrators eventually find out that a criminal record can be a major impediment to getting a job, housing or educational benefits. Efforts currently underway in the General Assembly to automatically expunge certain criminal records in Virginia are an attempt…

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Former Journalists Push Press Freedom in Virginia House of Delegates

The Virginia General Assembly now has two former journalists as members, and they are hoping to move forward with bills to increase press freedom. High school newspapers shouldn’t be bullied or told what to do by principals and administrators. That’s the idea behind a bill introduced by Delegate Chris Hurst, a Democrat from Blacksburg who…

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Judge rules Virginia’s judiciary not subject to FOIA

A retired circuit court judge has ruled the Virginia Freedom of Information Act does not apply to the state’s judiciary, a ruling that could potentially hinder access to records of the judicial branch of government, like expense reports or phone bills. The Oct. 15 ruling by retired Judge William Alexander II came in a dispute…

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Numerous phone-in Charlottesville council meetings held before policy instated

Charlottesville city councilors appear to have improperly phoned in to numerous meetings, including those dealing with hiring of an interim city manager. In August, the council passed a policy — apparently for the first time — allowing councilors to phone in to meetings in certain situations. Since 2014, state law has required local public bodies…

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FOIA emails show concern about Pittsylvania County (VA) DSS board

Email records obtained by the Star-Tribune through FOIA requests from Pittsylvania County Department of Social Services Director Sherry Flanagan from August 2017 indicated Flanagan was ‘fearful’ of county administrator David Smitherman and worried her board would be eliminated. On August 15, 2017, Brenda Robertson, Administrative Assistant/Legal Assistant for County Attorney Vaden Hunt emailed Flanagan to, “please forward…

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Editorial – Texts to student phone numbers obtained via FOI request not a violation

Students at several of the commonwealth’s public universities got a surprise on their cell phones last fall: A text message urged them to register to vote, and to support the local Democrat running for the House of Delegates. The students’ cell phone numbers were obtained through a Freedom of Information request made by NextGen Virginia,…

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Celebrate Sunshine Week, FOI Day and James Madison’s birthday with VCOG at Pop-Up Sunshine Day

On Thursday, March 16, join those in the know as they share short takes on FOIA, access, transparency and more. We'll also show the 2006 PBS profile of Virginia FOIA hero Lee Albright — always a classic — then we'll dim the lights and bring out the snacks to watch last year's best picture Oscar winner about investigative journalism, "Spotlight."

The event is free, but you must register and a donation to VCOG is strongly encouraged.

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Virginia Coalition for Open Government to host Access 2016

Join VCOG for a variety of panels, speakers and discussions on the most newsworthy topics of the day, including: government use of social media, legislative privilege, information in the age of Madison, proactive disclosure and more.

Further details:
ACCESS '16
James Madison's Montpelier
December 8, 2016
10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (exact schedule to be determined)

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