Attorney General's Opinion 1972-73 #488
January 3, 1973
THE HONORABLE PETER K. BABALAS
Member, Senate of Virginia
This will acknowledge receipt of your recent letter in which you
set forth the following questions in regard to the Virginia Freedom
of Information Act:
"If local official bodies meet in private, can they
discuss any subject other than the ones covered by the law?
"When such closed meetings are held, must the body vote in
public to hold each individual meeting, or can they pass a blanket
resolution declaring that it will hold secret meetings or closed
meetings on a specific day and at a specific time
In response to your first inquiry, the Virginia Freedom of
Information Act clearly states that except where specifically
authorized by law or exempted by §2.1-345 of the Code of
Virginia (1950), as amended, closed meetings may be held only for the
purposes set forth in Code §2.1-344. I am of the opinion,
therefore, that when a unit of government meets in closed session for
one of the specific purposes enumerated in the Act, it would be
impermissible for that body to consider subjects during the course of
the closed session that would not be included in Code
The answer to your second question must be stated in the negative.
The purpose of the Virginia Freedom of Information Act is to ensure
that all meetings of state and local governmental bodies shall be
open to the public except where specific provisions to the contrary
are provided. In availing itself of the provisions set forth in
§2.1-344(a) of the Code with respect to closed meetings, the
unit of government is required by §2.1-344(b) to vote in public
prior to each such closed session and thereafter comply with the
requirements of §2.1-344(c).
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