House of Delegates passes legislation to ensure transparency with official correspondence of the Governor

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House budget proposal includes $900,000 to aid in the implementation of this legislation

The Virginia House of Delegates on Tuesday passed HB1702, 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 HB 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.

“With technology being as advanced as it is today, we owe it to taxpayers to use all of the tools at our disposal to operate a government as transparent as possible,” said Virginia House of Delegates Speaker  Kirk Cox (R-Colonial Heights). “House Republicans have consistently advocated for ways to to promote transparency in state government, having last year 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.”

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.

“When the Library of Virginia receives correspondence from the Governor at the end of their term, they should be put online and available without delay,” said Majority Leader Todd Gilbert (R-Shenandoah), the bill’s patron. “The public should not have to wait a decade before being able to have access to Governor’s records from during their time in office.”

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