Monday, February 3, 2014
Call legislators to oppose Freedom of Information Act bill that increases burden on localities
VACo members, please contact members of the House General Laws to oppose HB 788 (LeMunyon), which requires localities to produce records for out-of-state requesters. The House General Laws Subcommittee #2 recommended reporting the bill by a 4-3 vote on Thursday.
Currently the law requires localities to only fulfill records requests from citizens of the Commonwealth and media. This has been the law in Virginia since the act’s inception. This “citizens only” provision was challenged by a California business seeking a large number of records from a Virginia County and the case went to the U.S. Supreme Court. In the case of McBurney v. Young, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the Virginia “citizens only” provision was constitutional.
HB 788 creates a huge policy change that would mandate localities to respond to any request from any entity no matter where they are located. Many of these out-of-state requests are from commercial data aggregators who then sell the data or use it for other commercial purposes. Countless hours are spent responding to in-state requests under the current code provisions and the full cost of search, collection, review and duplication is never fully recovered. The burden on local governments will be much greater in staff time if this bill passes.
• This bill increases workload to localities
• The full burden of responding to requests is not recoverable
• Virginia’s “citizen only” provision has been upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court
• This adds another mandate to already overburdened public entities
House General Laws: Gilbert (Chairman), Albo, Wright, Peace, Anderson, Greason, Knight, LeMunyon, Helsel, Rush, Robinson, Yost, Ramadan, Hodges, Yancey, Ward, Dance, Bulova, Carr, Torian, McQuinn, Kory
VACo Contact: Phyllis A. Errico, CAE