Friday, November 20, 2009
West Virginia Lawmakers Suggest Revising State FOIA Statute
West Virginia state representative and House Judiciary Chairwoman Carrie Webster says the legislature should revisit the many exemptions and exceptions made to the state's Freedom of Information Act.
Webster's statement comes on the heels of a West Virgnia Supreme Court decision in which 13 emails between former Chief Justice Elliott "Spike" Maynard and Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship are not public records. In her dissenting opinion, Justice Margaret Workman wrote that the West Virginia Freedom of Information Act should be changed to allow consideration of the the context in which the records are produced when deciding if they qualify as public records.
As originally enacted in 1977, the West Virginia Freedom of Information Act contained eight reasons to withhold information from the public. Since then, more than 75 exemptions have been added to the FOIA statute, according to a 2007 review by The Associated Press.
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