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Monday, February 24, 2014

Virginia Bill to Study 172 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Exemptions

 
This is an issue I have run into many times over the last 5 years and I posted about my most recent encounter back on October 26, 2013 The Virginia State Police will give the data to Victims Groups, National Missing and Abused Children’s Organizations and College Researchers, but not to me.

I look forward to seeing what happens with this bill, HJ96. 

Mary
 

OpEd: Bill moves to study FOIA exemptions, February 23, 2014

Want to know what your government is really up to? 

The Virginia Freedom of Information Act allows citizens of the commonwealth (and representatives of the media) to gain access to numerous records held by state and local agencies, government officials and other public authorities, along with providing the right to attend public meetings. The presumption of the FOIA is that all records and all meetings are to be open to the public — unless there is a special exemption specifying secrecy.

Sounds good, right? 

Maybe — until you begin counting up those exemptions. All in all, Virginia has peppered the Freedom of Information Act with 172 different exemptions under which transparency is prevented. Many of these exemptions are understandable: closed meetings for personnel issues such as hiring or firing, protected documents that show security plans. But many might not, in fact, be necessary. Circumstances might have changed since their enaction, rendering them unwarranted. They might be the result of “mission creep” — the slow, steady, cumulative advance of changes that might have once seemed justifiable in isolation, but have now proved to be over burdensome in aggregate. 
 

HB326: Making Revenge Porn a Criminal Misdemeanor has Passed the Virginia Senate Courts of Justice Committee

 
HB326- proposes dissemination of images of totally nude, in a state of undress, or engaged in sexual conduct of adults to become a criminal offense passed the Senate Courts of Justice Committee today. 

YEAS--Marsh, McEachin, Saslaw, Norment, Howell, Lucas, Edwards, Puller, Obenshain, McDougle, Stuart, Vogel, Wexton--13.
NAYS--Petersen--1.
ABSTENTIONS--Stanley--1. 

Past Posts on this issue/proposal:
There were some very good comments made during the discussion and I want to share a few of them here with you. 
 
The patron stated that he lifted much of the language (where they could) from other statutes including the obscene phone call statute. 

HB403: Allowing a Prior Sexual Conviction as Admissible Evidence in a New Case Passed the Virginia Senate Courts of Justice Committee

 
HB403 which proposes allowing a prior sexual conviction as evidence in a case of a new sexual charge passed the Senate Courts of Justice Committee today. 

YEAS--Marsh, McEachin, Saslaw, Norment, Howell, Lucas, Edwards, Puller, Obenshain, McDougle, Petersen, Stuart, Vogel, Stanley, Wexton--15.
NAYS--0.
ABSTENTIONS--0 

Past Posts on this issue/proposal:
The patron of HB403 reminded the Senate Committee they passed this proposal last year but then it was sent to the Virginia Crime Commission to be studied in 2013 and they made some changes and now this is the new version. 

Delegate Bell then told the Committee that this proposal is more specific than the Federal Rule 414 which allows for previous claims and charges of sexual crimes to be entered as evidence. Whereas Delegate Bell’s proposal only allows for previous convictions of § 18.2-61. Rape , § 18.2-370. Taking Indecent Liberties w/ Child , § 18.2-370.01. Indecent Liberties by Child  and § 18.2-370.1. Taking Indecent Liberties w/ Child by Person in Custodial or Supervisory Relationship . 

There were some very good comments made during the discussion and I want to share a few of them here with you.