Five bills referred to FOIA Council
(scroll down for a chart of bills referred to the FOIA Council)
Five bills will be considered by the FOI Advisory Council this summer. The fate of bills referred to the council for study can range from a decision not to act at all, to a full-fledged examination by all interested stakeholders and proposed legislation for 2010.
Prompted by a judge’s ruling last year that a public official’s personal correspondence was subject to release under FOIA, Del. Joe May, R-Leesburg, submitted a bill that would add an explicit statement to the definition of "public record" that "personal correspondence" is not included.
VCOG argued the phrase was unnecessary because the definition of public record only applies to records owned or created "in the transaction of public business." Before the House General Laws subcommittee voted to recommend sending the bill to the council, VCOG also pointed out that, despite discussion about how the definition would apply to e-mail sent and received through private, commercial or government servers, the definitional change would apply to all public records.
Del. Tim Hugo, R-Centreville, voluntarily sent his bill to the council. His bill would exempt teachers from FOIA’s requirement that the names and salaries of all public employees making over $10,000 be released. Discussion in the council may be about whether the $10,000 threshold, which has been around since the mid-1970s, should be adjusted.
For the second year in a row, the Department of Game & Inland Fisheries asked for an exemption for the "personal information" of applicants for hunting, fishing and trapping licenses, as well as boat titling registrations.
This year, in a bill sponsored by Sen. Roscoe Reynolds, D-Martinsville, the department wanted to amend another section of the Virginia Code to exempt Social Security numbers.
VCOG suggested the bill be referred to the council’s joint study with the Joint Commission on Science & Technology on access to personal information.
A bill by Sen. Ken Cuccinelli, R-Fairfax, would require a private entity contracting with the state to operate or manage part of the state highway system (for instance, a toll plaza or a limited-access highway) to turn over records related to that contract upon a FOIA request.
Finally, the Virginia Press Association was instrumental in getting a bill sent to the council that would allow law-enforcement personnel to ask that their personal information (e.g., name and address) not be disclosed in public records. The bill was sponsored by Del. Anne B. Crockett-Stark, R-Wytheville.
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