Reviewing Open Goverment Laws

Mar 18, 2013

Just after marking Virginia’s “Freedom of Information Day,” the state Council that advises the General Assembly on open-government laws met to review its previous legislation and plan for the upcoming year. 

A number of bills related to the Freedom of Information Act passed during the recent legislative session—but not all were Council recommendations.

State advisory bodies are sometimes unable to meet the quorum they need to make decisions, so the Freedom of Information Advisory Council recommended greater use of technology. The Council’s Executive Director, Maria Everett, said the bill allows members and the public to bridge the often vast distances where they live.

“There has to be a main meeting location so people can come to one place.  And the meeting can never be telephonic.  It has to be full audio-visual.  And so then everybody can participate remotely from places that are also open—we’ve retained that portion.  So you sort of have a disembodied group, but part of the requirements is that they get to hear and see each other, any presentations are visible.”

The Council had not recommended a bill to prohibit court clerks from releasing concealed-weapon permit information.

“None of the information that’s been historically available for people who apply for and receive concealed-carry permits—none of that information can be publicly accessible.”

Lawmakers also have made a request of the Council to study whether school boards should be able to meet electronically.