Transparency News, 2/17/21


 February 17, 2021
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state & local news stories
The Senate General Laws Committee will meet this afternoon. Three FOIA bills are on the agenda. It's not too late to give your opinion on them to the members of the committee.

Here are VCOG's positions:

This is a bill to require some measure of access to closed/inactive criminal investigative files. For too long the files have been routinely withheld without actually looking through them to see what could be released without causing any harm. This bill still lets some material to be withheld, but it says the rest must be released.
This bill expands an exemption for contact information when people sign up for one-way communication from a public body to include its elected officials. We're OK with that. What we're NOT OK with is that it also includes a flip of the FOIA presumption that all records are presumed open. The bill says now that the records are presumed CLOSED unless permission is granted. We have asked this section to be removed, and we can't support the bill with it in.
HB2313 -- OPPOSE
This bill wants to add the Chief Workforce Development Officer and the Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion to the group of people who can claim the exemption for working papers and correspondence. These positions are not cabinet secretaries (which are covered under the law) and oversee far too many programs and are involved in too many initiatives to keep their work off limits.

WATCH HERE, one-half hour after adjourment, so probably no sooner than 2:00.

This local government reporter tweets the problems that can befall an all virtual-meeting.

Virginia releases time-lapse update on new General Assembly Building

The University of Virginia Board of Visitors will hold an educational workshop followed by a public comment period at 12 p.m. on Wednesday to discuss its proposed increase of undergraduate tuition for the 2021-2022 school year.  In accordance with BOV-019, the Board of Visitors is required to hold a public comment period before approving any increase in undergraduate tuition or mandatory fees. As stated by the policy, the Board of Visitors must provide students and the public with a projected range of the planned increase and an explanation for the need of the increase. The public comment period is open to the public and can be accessed through If an individual wishes to speak at the meeting, they must email
Cavalier Daily
stories from around the country
Along with Southern California Assemblymember Cristina Garcia, Lee has introduced a bill, AB 339, that he hopes will level the playing field for all citizens who want to be part of the process. It would require all meetings to have internet-based attendance and participation options that include closed captioning, as well as a call-in option. "Prior to the pandemic, you had to show up at San Jose City Hall at 7:15 p.m. and wait hours and hours to make a public comment. And that is obviously not sustainable for people who have children, who need to work, who don't have transportation, so you really were limited in who could participate," Lee said in an interview last week. "When we hopefully return to in-person meetings and people can still come and have a jolly old fun meeting, people who traditionally have been barred out of this process can call in, they can make a public comment that way. That's why it's so important," the 25th District assemblyman said.