Majority Leader Todd Gilbert introduces bill to promote transparency and increase access to past gubernatorial correspondence

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House Majority Leader Todd Gilbert on Thursday filed legislation aimed at expediting the process in which official correspondence of the Governor must be made available to the public. Currently state law does not provide a time frame in which this correspondence must be released, but House Bill 1702 would require all records be made available to the public one year after delivery to the Library of Virginia. As a recent Richmond-Times Dispatch article notes, a Freedom of Information Act request for these records currently could take more than a decade to fulfill.

“In the era of the internet and with technology being as advanced as it is today, Virginians are still being forced to wait 10 years to have access to official correspondence from past Governor’s administrations,” said Majority Leader Todd Gilbert (R-Shenandoah), the bill’s patron. “When the Library of Virginia receives the correspondence, it should be put online and available without delay.”

The Library of Virginia is three administrations behind, currently in the process of releasing records for Governor Tim Kaine. House Bill 1702, if passed and signed by the governor, will require all correspondence from the Kaine, McDonnell, and McAuliffe administration to be made available online immediately. The budget passed earlier this year included $600,000 for the library to upgrade the technology that make digital catalogs available to the public.

“We owe it to taxpayers to operate a government as transparent as possible,” said Virginia House of Delegates Speaker  Kirk Cox (R-Colonial Heights). “Last year, House Republicans pushed for all committee meetings to be live streamed and required recorded votes in subcommittees; we are preparing for all subcommittees to be live streamed once we move into the new General Assembly Building. This bill goes one step further to ensuring a fair and open government.”