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HB 1539 Virginia Freedom of Information Act; public access to records of public bodies.
SUMMARY AS ENACTED WITH GOVERNOR'S RECOMMENDATION: (all summaries)
Virginia Freedom of Information Act (FOIA); public access to records of public bodies. Clarifies the definition of public record. The bill also (i) defines "personal contact information" that is excluded from FOIA's mandatory disclosure provisions in certain cases; (ii) clarifies that a requester has the right to inspect records or receive copies at his option; (iii) clarifies language in certain record exclusions under FOIA that certain records may be disclosed at the discretion of the custodian; (iv) consolidates the personnel record exclusion with the limitation on the application of that exclusion, and specifically clarifies that the name, in addition to position, job classification, and salary, of a public employee is public information as per opinions of the Attorney General and the FOIA Council; (v) eliminates, effective July 1, 2018, the exclusion for the Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority relating to operating and marketing strategies; (vi) eliminates the exclusion for correspondence of local officials as unnecessary; (vii) consolidates various public safety exclusions relating to building plans and drawings and critical infrastructure into a single exclusion; (viii) eliminates the exclusion for administrative investigations of the Department of Human Resource Management, as the exclusion is already covered under the personnel records exclusion; (ix) expands the exclusion for personal information provided to the Virginia College Savings Plan to cover qualified beneficiaries, designated survivors, and authorized individuals, which terms are defined in the bill; (x) consolidates the various record exclusions for the Department of Health Professions and the Department of Health into single exclusions for each Department; (xi) clarifies certain Department of Social Services exclusions; (xii) provides an exclusion for local finance boards that provide postemployment benefits other than pensions; and (xiii) eliminates the record exclusion for Virginia Wildlife Magazine. The bill also limits the application of the working papers exemption by stating that information publicly available or not otherwise subject to an exclusion under FOIA or other provision of law that has been aggregated, combined, or changed in format without substantive analysis or revision shall not be deemed working papers. The bill contains numerous technical amendments. This bill is a recommendation of the Freedom of Information Advisory Council pursuant to the HJR 96 FOIA study (2014-2016).