Current Headlines

Read my lips: no taxes

In response to a request from a California records requester, the director of appeals and rulings at Virginia's Department of Taxation said public bodies cannot add sales tax to the cost of providing the records under FOIA. "The sales tax does not apply to copies of public records furnished in response to a FOIA request," Michael Melson wrote on May 12. Read the full text of the letter here.

Fee samples

Sampling of actual cost charges in other states

Florida: Up to 15 cents for one-sided pages and additional 5 cents for two-sided.

Illinois: No charge for first 50 pages of a document; per page charge is 15 cents.

Indiana: 10 cents per page. Search costs, labor or overhead considered part of direct costs and can't be added on.

Kentucky: Charge cannot exceed 10 cents per page.

Ohio: 5 cents for one-sided pages and 9 cents for two-sided.

Fees: did you know?

According to the Mississippi Center for Freedom of Information at the University of Mississippi, the Magnolia state's open records law says public bodies can charge the "actual cost" for providing the records. "Who knew those two words could be interpreted in so many ways?" the center asks in its spring newsletter. Here's a sampling of how other states charge for public records requests.


A Glade Spring group is looking to help residents fight city hall – or town hall, or county hall or any government agency not responding to requests for open government. Patti Woolard, a member of the Glade Spring Civic Club told the Washington County News that her group is offering to front folks the court costs associated with taking action against a public body denying access to records or being nonresponsive about access.

Citizens organizing for accountability

A group of citizens in Northern Virginia is starting to make its presence known: The Virginia Citizens Coalition for Police Accountability has a website up and running, and a new e-mail address. The group recently received a letter from Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chair Sharon Bulova saying that the Fairfax BOS "will be pursuing" the CCPA's suggestion to create a citizens review board.

FOIA workshop videos

The first of 13 videos taken of VCOG's presentation of Access Across America. All 13 parts can be found on VCOG's YouTube channel, and links to the videos, plus PDFs of the handouts will soon be available on VCOG's own website.

Group urges ETA support

The Sunlight Foundation is circulating a sign-on letter in support of the Earmark Transparency Act. To add your name/organization, send inquiry to Lisa Rosenberg.

Earmark Transparency Act - sign-on letter

Dear Senator[Representative]:

The undersigned organizations urge you to cosponsor S. 3335 [H.R. 5258] the Earmark Transparency Act introduced by Senators Coburn, Feingold, Gillibrand and McCain [Representatives Cassidy and Speier].  This landmark piece of legislation would require Congress to create an online, searchable database for all earmark requests.  By centralizing all earmark requests in a single database, the bill vastly improves the way in which information about earmarks is disclosed.

Story owes thanks to FOIA

Thanks to the Freedom of Information Act and yeoman efforts by this newspaper -- efforts that only a newspaper has the resources to undertake; you won't read a similar in-depth report, the result of months of exhaustive effort, on a blog -- Central Virginians know GRTC has some work to do improving its safety measures. They also know GRTC is taking steps in the right direction.


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