Virginian-Pilot editorial: Be a force for openness in government

It’s optimistic to believe that this (or really any) legislative session in Virginia will make a turn toward openness and away from punching holes in the law that ensures public access to documents and meetings.

But maybe, just maybe, this could be a session where lawmakers choose to hold the line on those principles and act with deference toward the people’s right to know.

The most significant bills on the subject offered in this year’s session are the omnibus packages produced by the Virginia Freedom of Information Advisory Council’s three-year study of the commonwealth’s open government law.

As has been outlined repeatedly on these pages and elsewhere around the state, the changes sought in an effort to modernize the Freedom of Information Act fall far short of the ideal.

Virginia’s FOIA includes more than 170 exemptions that have, over time, eroded its effectiveness as a crowbar to pry loose documents that should be public and to pry open the doors of meeting rooms that should not be closed. Continue…