-- March 16 is National FOIA Day—
-- Day celebrates the Freedom Of Information Act --
CENTRAL VA – The Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA) was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson in September of 1966 and has been amended a number of times since. This act allows for the full or partial disclosure of previously unreleased information and documents controlled by the U.S. Government. The Act defines agency records subject to disclosure, outlines mandatory disclosure procedures and grants nine exemptions to the statute.
To celebrate Sunshine Week, Delegate Christopher K. Peace (R-Mechanicsville) attended an event hosted by the VA FOIA Council, the VA Coalition for Open Government, the VA Press Association and the VA Association of Broadcasters.
As a supporter of open government and greater transparency, Peace introduced House Bill 140 during the 2008 General Assembly session. HB 140 is a measure to require local governing bodies and school boards to publish their budgets on the Internet or make them available in hardcopy. The bill passed with unanimous support.
“Virginians should expect more accountability in government. Open government laws enable citizens to be more informed about how their money is being spent. I am pleased this measure for more government transparency was successful,” Peace said.
Previously there was no requirement for local governments to post their budgets online or in hard copy for citizens and residents. HB 140 created such a requirement for all elected bodies of local governments. This bill mirrors the public release of the state budget online. To view the state budget visit the following web site: http://leg2.state.va.us/MoneyWeb.NSF/sb2010
To provide FOIA services in Virginia, the Virginia Freedom of Information Advisory Council was established by the 2000 Session of the General Assembly. The Council was created as an advisory council in the legislative branch of state government to encourage and facilitate compliance with FOIA. As directed by statute, the Council is tasked with furnishing advisory opinions concerning FOIA upon the request of any person or agency of state or local government; conducting training seminars and educational programs for the members and staff of public bodies and other interested persons on the requirements of FOIA; and publishing educational materials on the provisions of FOIA. The Council is also required to file an annual report on its activities and findings regarding FOIA, including recommendations for changes in the law, to the Governor and the General Assembly.
National FOIA Day is an annual, daylong program of speaking and discussion by specialists in various aspects of freedom of information, updating developments in FOIA over the preceding year. This year the day is being celebrated March 16.
Delegate Christopher K. Peace was elected to his third term representing the 97th District of the Virginia House of Delegates. The District includes parts of Hanover, Caroline, King William, King and Queen, Henrico, Spotsylvania Counties and all of New Kent County.