HB 1569 (Walker) Virginia Freedom of Information Act; disclosure of personnel records. Clarifies that personnel records excluded from disclosure under the Virginia Freedom of Information Act include those of persons employed by (i) a public body engaged in emergency medical services or fire protection services, (ii) a law-enforcement agency, or (iii) an emergency 911 system or any other equivalent reporting system. This bill was passed by both houses and will be on its way to the Governor’s desk.
HB 2006 (Roem) Virginia Freedom of Information Act; public records charges; electronic payment method. Provides that any local public body that charges to produce public records pursuant to the Virginia Freedom of Information Act may provide an electronic method of payment through which all payments to produce such records to such locality may be made. This bill was originally a mandate, but VACo expressed concerns and it was amended to be optional. This bill has passed both houses.
HB 2007 (Roem) Virginia Freedom of Information Act; posting of fee policy. Requires a public body to make available upon request and post on its website or otherwise publish a written policy (i) explaining how the public body assesses charges for accessing or searching for requested records and (ii) noting the current fee charged, if any, by the public body for accessing and searching for the requested records. This bill has passed both chambers.
HB 2498 (Kory) Virginia Freedom of Information Act; training for local officials; members of park authorities’ boards. Adds members of any boards governing any authority established pursuant to the Park Authorities Act to the list of persons to whom the Virginia Freedom of Information Advisory Council or the local government attorney is required to provide training. The bill requires such members to complete such training sessions within two months after assuming the local elected office and requires the clerk of each governing body or school board to maintain records indicating the names of such members and the dates of training completion. This bill has passed both chambers.
Failed Freedom of Information Act Bills
HB 1878 (Williams-Graves) Virginia Freedom of Information Act; exclusions to application of chapter; local administrative investigations; disclosure. Clarifies that personal contact information, to include a home or business (i) address, (ii) email address, or (iii) telephone number or comparable number assigned to any other electronic communication device, when furnished in confidence to a local governing body with respect to complainants in local investigations, is exempt from disclosure under the Virginia Freedom of Information Act. The bill expands the applicability of the exemption to zoning enforcement complaints to all such complaints, not just individual enforcement complaints. The bill also provides that information in completed investigations shall be disclosed in a form that does not reveal the identity of the complainants or persons supplying information to investigators. This bill was left in House General Laws meaning it is dead for this session. VACo supported this bill which modernizes and existing provision of the law.
HB 1965 (Mullin) Virginia Freedom of Information Act; required release of law-enforcement disciplinary records; exceptions. Requires the release of law-enforcement disciplinary records related to completed disciplinary investigations. The bill defines “law-enforcement disciplinary records” as any record created in furtherance of a law-enforcement disciplinary proceeding or any other administrative or judicial proceeding arising from the law-enforcement officer’s conduct, whether such proceeding takes place in the Commonwealth or in another jurisdiction. The bill requires the redaction of (i) certain personal contact information of the law-enforcement officer, complainant, and witness and of their families; (ii) social security numbers; (iii) certain medical and identifying information of the law-enforcement officer and complainant; and (iv) any technical infraction, as defined in the bill, by the law-enforcement officer. This bill was left in House General laws meaning it is dead.
HB 2050 (Bennett-Parker) Virginia Freedom of Information Act; electronic meetings; local and regional public bodies. Allows, with certain exceptions, local and regional public bodies to convene as many all-virtual public meetings as each such public body deems acceptable in its individual remote participation meeting policy, to be adopted at least once annually by recorded vote at a public meeting. Current law limits all-virtual public meetings to no more than two times per calendar year or 25 percent of the meetings held per calendar year rounded up to the next whole number, whichever is greater, and prohibits any such meeting from being held consecutively with another all-virtual public meeting. This Bill was left in House General Laws .
SB 813 (Surovell) Virginia Freedom of Information Act; record exclusions; State Comptroller records. Provides that the exclusions of the Virginia Freedom of Information Act related to the internal controls of the State Comptroller do not authorize the withholding of the name of any officer, official, or employee of a public body as it appears on a purchase card statement or other payment record or the description of an individual purchase appearing on any such purchase card statement or payment record. This bill was passed by indefinitely by House General Laws.
SB 1309 (Deeds) Virginia Freedom of Information Act; allow local public bodies to hold virtual meetings. Allows local public bodies, except for boards with the authority to deny, revoke, or suspend a professional or occupational license, to hold all-virtual public meetings in accordance with the other provisions of the Virginia Freedom of Information Act. The bill limits the requirement that public bodies do not convene all-virtual public meetings consecutively or more than twice per year to state public bodies. This bill would give local public bodies such as Boards of Supervisors similar authority to operate virtually as allowed for other public bodies. The bill failed in Senate General Laws.
VACo Contact: Phyllis Errico, Esq., CAE