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1998 SESSION

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SB 155 Freedom of Information Act; notice, electronic communication meetings.

Introduced by: Stephen D. Newman | all patrons    ...    notes | add to my profiles

SUMMARY:

Virginia Freedom of Information Act (FOIA); definitions; notice; electronic communication meetings. Amends FOIA to: (i) add a definition of "electronic communication means" by which meetings may be held; (ii) move the definition of "emergency" currently found in the electronic communication meeting section to FOIA's general definition section; (iii) require that, except in an emergency, notice of a meeting must be provided no less than three working days before the meeting in a manner reasonably calculated under the circumstances to apprise the public of the meeting information; (iv) maintain the current requirement that notice for emergency meetings be given contemporaneously with notice provided to members of the public body, but add that such notice be provided in a manner reasonably calculated under the circumstances to apprise the public of the meeting information; (v) maintain the current requirement that a quorum of the public body must be present to conduct a meeting, but delete the current requirement that the quorum must be physically present in one location in favor of requiring that, for purposes of establishing a quorum, every location where a member of the public body is physically present must be in Virginia and open and accessible to the public; (vi) after a quorum is established, permit members of the public body who are not physically present in Virginia or at a location open and accessible to the public to participate in the meeting, but prohibit such members from voting; (vii) delete the current requirement that a 30 days' notice of the electronic communication meeting be provided in favor of requiring the same notice as for all other public meetings (three days under the bill); (viii) require public bodies that hold electronic communication meetings to report annually thereon; (ix) remove the cap on electronic communication meetings (currently set at no more than 25 percent of all annual meetings); and (x) clearly state that it is a violation of FOIA for any public body or any member thereof to use electronic communications means to circumvent FOIA's spirit or letter. The bill retains the current prohibition on local public bodies' use of electronic communication means to hold meetings. The bill is a recommendation of the Joint Commission on Technology and Science.


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