Virginia FOIA council looks to shore up public-records laws

Virginia’s public-records panel will explore changes to state law to address the ramifications from a recent state Supreme Court ruling that advocates have warned could have sweeping effects on government transparency.

At a meeting Wednesday, the co-chairman of the Virginia Freedom of Information Act Advisory Council said the body will look into concerns raised by Sen.-elect Scott A. Surovell, D-Fairfax, who took the Department of Corrections to court last year after being denied information about the state’s procedures for carrying out the death penalty.

In September, the Supreme Court ruled that the prisons agency could keep its execution manual secret. The court ruled that the department could withhold the entire document rather than redacting sensitive portions that officials argued could jeopardize security. Continue…