2007 Legislative Roundup


VCOG's 2007 Legislative Roundup

This is a roundup of FOIA legislation in the 2007 session -- plus miscellany of interest.

New FOIA amendments and other key bills are underlined; please notify us of omissions or errors. (updated 02.24.2007)

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SB808
Sponsor: Sen. Henry Marsh, D-Richmond
States that records, reports, and documents related to hearings for outpatient treatment of mentally ill persons shall not be subject to FOIA, but would allow accessibility to the data for the purposes of medical treatment or for the purposes of investigating whether an individual is a candidate for assisted outpatient treatment.
Killed in committee, 10-4

SB810
Sponsor: Sen. Henry Marsh, D-Richmond
States that records and data containing personally identifiable information in reports from the House of Delegates and Senate clerks, and all other legislative agencies, are confidential and exempt from disclosure under FOIA.
Killed 13-3, in Senate Rules Committee

SB819
Sponsor: Sen. Ken Cuccinelli, R-Fairfax
Exempts from FOIA mandatory disclosure requirements those portions of records containing personal information concerning an identifiable individual, including date of birth, social security number, driver's license number, bank account numbers, credit or debit card numbers, personal identification numbers, electronic identification codes, automated or electronic signatures, biometric data, or fingerprints; except that access shall not be denied to the person who is the subject thereof. Any person who is the subject of any such record and who is 18 years of age or older may waive, in writing, these protections. If the protections are so waived, the public body shall open such records for inspection and copying.
Senate General Laws Committee voted to send the bill to the FOIA Council and JCOTS for year-long study.

SB823
Sponsor: Sen. Jeannemarie Devolites Davis, R-Vienna
Amends Personal Information Privacy Act and the Government Data Collection and Dissemination Practices Act to prohibit intentional communication to the general public of another's social security number regardless of whether the social security number was obtained from a public record or from a private source. The bill provides civil penalties of $1,000 per day, with each day being a separate violation. Companion to HB2060
Constitutional questions raised; struck by the patron

SB824
Sponsor: Sen. Jeannemarie Devolites Davis, R-Vienna
Exempts remote-access/subscriber-based land records from FOIA; authorizes clerks to reject new documents containing social security numbers and to redact social security numbers from existing records; enables clerks to charge 50 cents for each electronic "image"; requires removal of social security numbers from all land records by 2010 (last 4 digits still allowed for judgments); allows use of Technology Trust Fund to cover redaction costs.Approved by Senate, 40-0; approved by House, 99-0

SB883
Senator: Creigh Deeds, D-Highland
Creates a FOIA exemption for Game and Inland Fisheries licensing information, including home address, phone number and date of birth.
Senate General Laws Committee voted to send the bill to the FOIA Council

SB938
Sponsor: Sen. Patsy Ticer, D-Alexandria
Maintains confidentiality for home- and work-address of victims of domestic violence
Approved by the Senate; amended to provide for a one-year pilot project in Arlington County; Amended, approved in the House and Senate

SB1000
Sponsor: Sen. Edd Houck, D-Spotsylvania
Provides that financial data collected by local governing bodies shall be used only for consideration of rates or charges, or to determine financial responsibility, and shall be kept confidential by the governing body. The bill provides, however, that any certificate of insurance, bond, letter of credit, or other certification that the owner or operator has met the requirements of this chapter or of any local ordinance with regard to financial responsibility is not confidential.
Approved by the Senate and House

SB1001
Sponsor: Sen. Edd Houck, D-Spotsylvania
Establishes new electronic-meeting rules for regional public bodies; allows e-meeting participation in event of an emergency. Recommended by the FOIA Council
Approved by the Senate and House  

SB1002
Sponsor: Sen. Edd Houck, D-Spotsylvania
Allows governments to keep internal analyses confidential in public-private partnerships when disclosure would hurt their bargaining position. Recommended by the FOIA Council
Approved by the Senate, 40-0; approved by House

SB1003
Sponsor: Sen. Edd Houck, D-Spotsylvania
Clarifies that venue for the enforcement of FOIA rights and privileges against state public bodies, including state institutions of higher education, may be brought in general district court or the circuit court of the residence of the aggrieved party or of the City of Richmond.
Recommended by the FOIA Council
Approved by the Senate, 40-0; approved by House

SB1015
Sponsor: Sen. Tommy Norment, R-Williamsburg
Provides that the State Board of Elections shall develop and implement a centralized system to accept reports from local office candidates by July 1, 2007. Local office candidates who file electronically with the State Board will not be required to file locally, and the State Board shall make the filings available promptly to the local electoral board.
Approved by Senate and House  

SB1106
Sponsor: Sen. John Chichester / Speaker Bill Howell
Exempts name, address, telephone number, and e-mail address contained in correspondence from a constituent to his elected representative on a local governing body or school board and such information contained in correspondence responding to the constituent. However, no record, which is otherwise open to inspection under this chapter, shall be deemed exempt by virtue of the fact that it has been attached to or incorporated within any such correspondence. Results from Fredericksburg-area school flap.
Senate General Laws Committee sent the bill to the FOIA Council for year-long study.

SB1120
Sponsor: Sen. Ken Cuccinelli, R-Fairfax
Amends the criminal trespass statute to make it a crime for reporters to engage in some of the simplest and most common forms of newsgathering. Current law makes it a Class 1 misdemeanor to remain upon the property of another after having been forbidden to do so by the person lawfully in charge of the property. Reporters, like all citizens, are currently subject to this law. SB 1120 would amend the law to punish persons who have no actual knowledge that they are forbidden to enter upon property.
Died for lack of a second in Senate Courts of Justice Committee

SB1111
Sponsor: Sen. Edd Houck, D-Spotsylvania
Adds a closed meeting exemption for the discussion of exempt reports or exempt plans related to the security of any governmental facility, building or structure, or the safety of persons using such facility, building or structure.
Approved by the Senate, 40-0; approved by House

SB1224
Sponsor: Sen. Janet Howell
Requires public notice when a security breach occurs involving computerized data
Left in Courts of Justice Committee

SB1250
Sponsor: Sen. Mark Herring, R-Loudoun
Protects citizens' First Amendment free-speech rights by prohibiting Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPP suits). Speakers emphasized that SLAPP lawsuits, curbed in 25 other states, intimidate citizens from speaking out at public hearings of local government.
Approved by Senate, 39-0; amended, approved by House

SB 1271
Sponsor: Mary Margaret Whipple, D-Arlington
Eliminates requirement that a quorum of a state public body be physically assembled in one primary location in order for the public body to conduct an electronic meeting. Instead of the quorum, the bill provides that at least two members of the public body be physically assembled at one location. The remainder of the members may teleconference.
Senate General Laws voted unanimously to send the bill to the FOIA Council for study.

SB1282
Sponsor: Sen. Walter Stosch, R-Glen Allen
Upon written request of a law-enforcement officer, a court clerk shall remove any land records posted on the Internet that indicate the officer's place of residence or place of residence of a spouse or child.
Approved by the Senate; amended, approved in House Courts of Justice Committee

SB1295
Sponsor: Sen. Tommy Norment, R-Williamsburg
Provides that the identities of persons designated to carry out an execution are confidential and not subject to discovery or introduction as evidence in any proceeding.
Amended, approved by Senate; amended, approved by House (Companion to HB2418)

SB1369
Sponsor: Sen. Brandon Bell, R-Roanoke County
Broadens exemptions for Va. Retirement System, allowing the withholding of internal deliberations or decisions involving investment strategies, selection or termination of investment managers prior to execution of investment strategies and records relating to the acquisition, holding, or disposition of a security or other ownership interest in an entity not traded on a governmentally regulated securities exchange. Compromise language approved.
Approved by the Senate, 40-0; approved by House with emergency amendment

SB1404
Sponsor: Sen. Emmett Hanger, R-Mt. Solon
Broadens FOIA exemption (now limited to zoning complainants) to keep confidential the names, addresses and telephone numbers of complainants concerning a violation of any local ordinance.
Senate General Laws voted unanimously to send the bill to FOIA Council for study.

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HB1642
Sponsor: Del. Ken Alexander, D-Norfolk
As amended, maintains access to voter records showing registration denials; compromise language keeps original applications confidential
Approved by House, 98-0; approved by Senate 39-0

HB1643
Sponsor: Del. Steve Landes, R-Augusta
Requires state colleges to prove they are teaching conservative ideas as often as liberal ones.
Killed in Education subommittee

HB1727
Sponsor: Del. Matt Lohr, R-Harrisonburg
Local school boards shall require prior written permission of a parent or legal guardian before any student may be a member of or attend the meeting of a non-curriculum-related student organization.
Education Committee (Killed, 9-9)

HB1769
Sponsor: Del. Bob Brink, D-Arlington
Provides that prohibitions on exhibiting campaign materials in or near polling places shall not be construed to apply to voters wearing a shirt, hat, or other apparel or a sticker or button attached to his apparel on which a candidate's name or a political slogan appears.
Killed in Privileges and Elections Committee

HB1774
Sponsor: Del. John Cosgrove, R-Chesapeake
Outlaws boisterous parties
Status -- killed in House Courts of Justice subcommittee

HB1790
Sponsor: Del. Morgan Griffith, R-Salem
Provides that the Freedom of Information Act does not afford any rights to persons civilly committed pursuant to the Sexually Violent Predators Act, except in exercising their constitutionally protected rights.
Approved in House, 99-0, approved in Senate

HB1791
Sponsor: Del. Morgan Griffith, R-Salem
Adds this required FOIA response where applicable: "Records could not be found or do not exist. However, if the public body that received the request knows that another public body has the requested records, the response shall include contact information for the other public body." Allows public bodies to petition courts for waiver of response deadlines when "an extraordinarily lengthy search is involved." Recommended by the FOI Advisory Council (Griffith is vice chair of the council).
Approved in House, 99-0, approved in Senate; conferees' language acccepted.

HB1977
Sponsor: Del. William Fralin, R-Roanoke
Provides that surplus inaugural committee funds shall be used only to make charitable contributions. Status: Approved by House; amended, approved in Senate, 34-6

HB1999
Sponsor: Del. Terrie Suit, R-Virginia Beach
Proposed Bay Bridge Tunnel Authority subject to FOIA
Left in Transportation Committee

HB2029
Sponsor: Del. Bev Sherwood, R-Winchester
Permits use of electronic systems to provide information to crime victims
Approved by House and Senate

HB2060
Sponsors: Michelle McQuigg, R-Occoquan; Terry Kilgore, R-Gate City
Constitutional questions raised; withdrawn by patron.

HB2062
Sponsor: Michelle McQuigg.
Clerks' remote access bill; Companion to SB824
Approved in House, 93-4, approved in Senate unanimously (combined with Devolites bill)

HB2076
Sponsor: Del. Ward Armstrong, D-Henry
Allows expungement of police and court records only when a judge issues a writ of actual innocence.
Passed by House, 99-0; amended in Senate

HB2141
Sponsor: Del. Bob Brink, D-Arlington
Allows sale of voting records to election officials in other states; requires removal of any part of a social security number.
Approved by House and Senate

HB2157
Sponsor: Del. O'Bannon, R-Richmond
Originally sought to exclude doctors' malpractice settlements amounting to $30,000. Amended in the House to set the threshold at $10,000; amended, approved in the Senate to continue disclosure of any settlement of less than $10,000 made within the last 12 months.

HB2202
Sponsor: Del. Leo Wardrup, R-Va. Beach
Combined with HB 1642

HB2259
Sponsor: Del. Tom Rust, R-Herndon
Amends FOIA exemption to permit local and regional park authorities to withhold the same personal information withheld by state and local park and recreation departments.
Approved in House, 100-0, approved in Senate  

HB2271
Sponsor: Del. Adam Ebbin, D-Arlington
Allows local school boards to withhold or limit review of security plans or vulnerability assessment plans.
Approved, sent to governor

HB2293
Sponsor: Del. Jennifer McClellan, D-Richmond
Allows a local governing body, school board, committee or subcommittee to meet electronically provided no purpose of the meeting is to take action on any matter before the governing body, school board, or subcommittee, or to otherwise transact any business of the governing body, school board, or subcommittee and the local governing body, school board, or subcommittee otherwise complies with the FOIA rules for electronic communication.
General Laws tossed this issue back to the FOIA Council

HB2306
Sponsor: Del. Vince Callahan, R-McLean
Emphasizes that universities are to follow FOIA rules in IT procurement matters
Left in Appropriations Committee

HB2386
Sponsor: Del. Joe May, R-Loudoun
Companion to Norment bill; provides set-up for e-filing of campaign finance reports in local elections
Approved unanimously in the House and Senate

HB2393
Sponsor: Del. Sam Nixon, R-Richmond
Clarifies rules for disclosure of medical examiner's autopsy reports, other findings
Approved in House and Senate

HB2418
Sponsor: Del. Terry Kilgore, R-Gate City
Provides that the identities of persons designated to carry out an execution are confidential, exempt from the Freedom of Information Act, and not subject to discovery or introduction as evidence in any civil proceeding. Companion to Norment bill in the Senate.
Approved in House, 95-4; amended, approved in Senate

HB2423
Sponsor: Del. Griffith, R-Salem
Provides that any personal information concerning a member of a jury in a criminal trial shall be sealed by the court at the conclusion of the trial and shall be released only upon motion for good cause shown, with restrictions upon its use and further dissemination as may be deemed appropriate by the court.


Approved by House, 99-0; sent to Crime Commission by Senate Courts of Justice Committee

HB2527
Sponsor: Del. Sal Iaquinto, R-Virginia Beach
Requires agencies covered by the Government Data Collection and Dissemination Practices Act to respond to a data subject for inspection of his record in five working days (similar to FOIA) after receiving the request or within a time period as may be mutually agreed upon by the agency and the data subject.Approved in House and Senate

HB2553
Sponsor: Del. Adam Ebbin, D-Arlington
Allows a local governing body to meet by electronic communication means when a local state of emergency has been declared in accordance with § 44-146.21 provided (i) the meeting is necessary to take action to address the emergency, (ii) notice, reasonable under the circumstances, of the emergency meeting shall be given contemporaneously with the notice provided members of the local governing body conducting the meeting, (iii) the local governing body makes arrangements for public participation, and (iv) the local governing body otherwise complies with the requirements for electronic communication meetings. (Already covered in Title 44)
Sent to FOIA Council by General Laws Committee

HB2558
Sponsor: Del. Bob Brink, D-Arlington
As amended, treasurers are to keep confidential breed information, other data found in rabies vaccination certificates; dog license information remains open to public inspection.
Amended, approved in House, 99-0; amended and approved in Senate (one-year sunset added in subcommittee)

HB2561
Sponsor: Del. Brink, R-Arlington
Curbs use of automated phone calls by telemarketers and politicians
Killed in House Commerce and Labor

HB2565
Sponsor: Del. Steve Shannon, D-Vienna
Clarifies that computer fraud can occur if a person copies the property of another without authorization.
Left in Courts of Justice Committee

HB2669
Sponsor: Del. Bev Sherwood, R-Winchester
Waives FOIA meeting rules when the Governor has declared a state of emergency in accordance with § 44-146.17
Approved unanimously in the House and Senate

HB2570
Sponsor: Del. Steve Shannon, D-Vienna
Permits confidentiality in court appeals, at victim's request, in crimes involving sexual assault or sexual abuse
Approved in House, 99-0; amended, approved in Senate

HB2758
Sponsor: Del. Robert Hurt, R-Chatham
Requires state public bodies to post notices of meetings and proposed regulations on their own Web sites and the online Commonwealth Calendar
Approved in House and Senate   

HB2770
Sponsor: Del. Robert Hurt, R-Chatham
Eases rules for immediate destruction of records not covered by retention schedules in the Public Records Act
Killed in General Laws Committee

HB2821
Sponsor: Del. Mark Sickles, D-Alexandria
Exempts those portions of records containing an individual's social security number; except that access shall not be denied to the person who is the subject thereof. Any person who is the subject of any such record and who is 18 years of age or older may waive, in writing, the protections afforded by this subdivision. If the protections are so waived, the public body shall open such records for inspection and copying.
General Laws Committee sent the measure to JCOTS and FOIAC for more study

HB2851
Sponsor: Del. Brian Moran, D-Alexandria
Allows confidentiality for individuals' records in proposed office of children's services ombudsman
Left in Education Committee

HB2858
Sponsor: Del. Brian Moran, D-Alexandria
Exempts pre-trial investigative reports related to community probation services
Approved by House, 95-3; approved unanimously in Senate

HB2867
Sponsor: Del. Don McEachin
Exempts personally identifiable information from legislative agency reports that track hiring by race, general and national origin.
Killed in Rules Committee

HB3097
Sponsor: Del. Mark Cole, R-Stafford
As amended, exempts name, address, telephone number, e-mail address, DoB, SSN and credit card or bank account numbers contained in correspondence between individuals and local governing body officials living in the same locality. Redaction could not occur in e-mails dealing with matters before the local body. Originally this was a companion to Sen. Chichester's bill. which was sent to the FOIA Council by unanimous vote.
Amended, approved unanimously in House; however, on an 11-3 vote the Senate General Laws Committee sent the bill to the FOIA Council for further study.

HB3113
Sponsor: Del. Steve Landes, R-Augusta
Combines three key environmental boards; public input threatened by original language. As amended, reenactment must be voted in 2008. Identical to SB1403. Approved in Senate 30-10; approved in House 73-23

HB3118
Sponsor: Del. Bill Carico, R-Independence
Provides opt-out exemption for "personal information" in applications for hunting, fishing, boating, and trapping licenses issued by the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, including home address, phone number, and date of birth.
Sent to FOIA Council by General Laws Committee

HB 3161
Sponsor: Del. Danny Marshall, R-Danville
Exempts names of people complaining about someone else violating a local ordinance
Sent to FOIA Council by General Laws Committee

HB3171
Sponsor: Del. Steve Landes, R-Augusta
As introduced, the bill provided a sweeping FOIA exemption for a proposed nonprofit corporation that conducts research and development for government agencies, commercial businesses, foundations, and other organizations and "commercializes technology". Amended in committee, limiting confidentiality to existing FOIA exemptions .
Approved in House, 98-0; amended in Senate

HB3194
Sponsor: Lee Ware, R-Powhatan
Anti-Slapp legislation, amended by House to give citizens immunity from statements "made in bad faith or with malicious intent." Companion to Sen. Herring's measure that passed both houses.
Approved in House, 97-0; left in Senate Courts of Justice Committee

HJ 45
Sponsor: Del. Steve Landes (co-sponsors: Armstrong, Moran, Toscano)
Provides for Web-casting and telecasting of House floor sessions, beginning with a 1-year pilot project in the 2008 session
Killed in Rules Committee

HJ47
Sponsor: Del. David Englin, D-Alexandria
Provides for Web-casting and telecasting of House floor sessions; notes that live proceedings of floor sessions are broadcast in 40 states and approximately three-fourths of the nation's 99 legislative chambers are available on the Internet
Killed in Rules Committee

HJ61
Sponsor: Del. Ward Armstrong, D-Henry
Creates nonpartisan redistricting commission; covered by FOIA
Killed in Privileges and Elections Committee

HJ620
Sponsor: Del. Kristin Amundson, R-Mount Vernon
Creates nonpartisan redistricting commission; covered by FOIA
Killed in House Privileges and Elections Committee

HJR757
Sponsor: Del. Chuck Caputo, D-Chantilli
Provides for Web-casting and telecasting of House floor sessions
Killed in Rules Committee

Also, check out the Virginia Press Association's table of access-related legislation.
http://www.vpa.net/legislative/07_legislation/access.htm