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The FOI Advocate is a compendium of ideas, edited story excerpts and other materials from a variety of Web sites, as well as original concepts and analysis. When the information comes directly from another source, it will be attributed and a link will be provided whenever possible. The blog relies on the accuracy and integrity of the original sources cited. We will correct errors and inaccuracies when we become aware of them.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Virginia Bill to Curtail FOIA Harassment is Threat to Transparency

Legislation proposed by former newspaper editor and Virginia state delegate R. Lee Ware Jr. (R-Powhatan) to protect public bodies from FOIA harassment is headed nowhere fast. The proposed bill would allow any public body in the state to petition a court for relief from a person deemed to be abusing rights granted under FOIA.

Powhatan County's attorney and the county board of supervisors urged the bill after being receiving 25 FOIA requests from one individual last year relating to utility projects in the county.

The bill has now been sent to the Virginia Freedom of Information Advisory Council for review, which means it will be at least a year before the legislature considers the measure again.

Open records advocates say the proposed law would crush the spirit of FOIA because it could allow the government to stymie requests with threats of litigation.

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