Transparency News 1/10/19



January 10, 2019


Follow the bills that VCOG follows on our annual legislative bill chart.


state & local news stories




Among the bills added yesterday:

  • HB 2386 would require university fundraisers to disclose some of the details of their donor agreements.
  • HB 2507 would create a FOIA ombudsman in the AG's office to mediate disputes between requesters and state agencies.
  • HJ 628 would direct the FOIA Council to study "the threat of phishing attacks" on people whose information was obtained by FOIA.
  • SB 1431 would require biannual FOIA training for elected officials.
  • SB 1566 would require a more robust, searchable database of full-time employee salaries.

And several new bills propose records and meetings exemptions for application materials for newly proposed grant funds.

Read about these and other bills on VCOG's website.

Also, a House General Laws subcommittee will hear the two House bills TODAY that would (in different ways) shield the names of lottery winners from disclosure. The meeting will take place after the adjournment of two other subcommittees, the first of which begins 1/2-hour after adjournment of the House. Confused? Me too!


Louisa Town Council members on Dec. 17 unanimously agreed to lift Town Manager Tom Filer’s probation seven months early. The decision was made in open session following a closed meeting called by Councilman John J. Purcell IV to discuss the matter. “I wanted to have discussion and action on this because I felt, since the initial vote to put him on probation, he’s done a very good job professionally,” Purcell said. “And I thought that should be rewarded.” The disciplinary measures were initiated in July after Filer was insubordinate to Mayor Garland Nuckols on June 27, 2018 when the town was contacted to repair a water line break on West Street.
The Central Virginian

Smithfield Town Council member Randy Pack wasn’t alone in publicly expressing anger and frustration over closed session information being made public. Alan Gernhardt with the Virginia Freedom of Information Advisory Council ticked off several stories of elected officials threatening others, getting into screaming fights and trying to punish fellow officials over closed sessions — and one case where a male official, frustrated with a fellow female official, instead hit her husband and got arrested.  However, there is no law prohibiting an elected official from telling the public the contents of a closed session as that falls under the free speech provision of the First Amendment in the U.S. Constitution, said Gernhardt. 
The Smithfield Times