Bills mandating Freedom of Information Act training for local elected officials receives helpful amendments in subcommittee

February 14, 2019

SB 1431 (Obenshain) as introduced mandates FOIA training for local elected officials by December 31, 2019, and thereafter biennially. The training would be given by the FOIA Council Staff and records of the training must be maintained by the clerk for five years. Currently, local government records officers are the only local government folks required to complete training.

In addition, to the new training requirements, the bill eliminates a three-day notice period for a hearing on a petition for mandamus or injunction for a violation of the law involving open meetings.

A substitute was offered that moves the initial training deadline to be completed by December 31, 2020, and eliminates the three-day notice only when the alleged violation involves the open meeting provisions of the act. SB 1431 passed the Senate and was heard in a House General Laws subcommittee where the bill was amended by the patron at the request of VACo and VML.  The bill as recommended for reporting by the General Laws subcommittee now allows the training to be also done by the local government attorney as well as the FOIA council and provides that no penalty shall be imposed for missing the training. SB 1431 will be heard by the House General Laws Committee on February 14.

VACo Contact: Phyllis Errico, Esq., CAE

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