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Transparency Roundup

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General Assembly

Virginia’s General Assembly is still going strong. Crossover, the halfway point in the session and the date by which bills must have passed the house they originated in was last week. Here is a quick roundup of some bills that are still moving through the legislative process.

  • Manoli Loupassi (R-Richmond) sponsored a bill to ensure the the affidavit supporting a search warrant may only be publicly released after the warrant has been served. The bill has passed both the House and the Senate and is headed to Gov. McDonnell for his signature.
  • Bob Marshall’s (R-Manassas)  bill to allow allow state employees who willfully disregard the Freedom of Information Act to be terminated was amended to double the penalties for violating FOIA but not all for termination or suspension of an employee. It has passed the House and is waiting on action from the Senate.
  • Sal Iaquinto (R-Virginia Beach) proposed a bill to require all state agencies and regional bodies to put requests for proposals and invitations to bid online that has passed the House and is awaiting Senate action.
  • A Chap Petersen (D-Fairfax) sponsored bill which protects the speech or debate of local officials carrying out their duties has passed the Senate and is awaiting action from the House.
  • A Frank Ruff (R-Clarksville) sponsored bill to allow local officials to be notified of special meetings by email or fax instead of via hard copy has passed both the Senate and House and is heading to Gov. McDonnell.

However, some other notable bills have now failed.

  • Barbara Comstock’s (R-McLean) proposal to create a centralized website with appropriations and budget items, agency spending and procurement data, financial disclosure statements, audits and contact information for records requests passed out of the General Laws committee but was left in Appropriations.
  • Jim LeMunyon (R-Oak Hill) and Mark Keam’s (D-Vienna) bill to post member’s voting records on the LIS website was left in the House Rules committee.
    • Correction-As Del. LeMunyon generously pointed out in the comments H.R.64 did pass the House, which provides for putting House members voting records online.
  • Separate bills sponsored by Steve Landes (R-Weyers Cave) and Onzlee Ware (D-Roanoke) that would have given localities options to meet FOIA notice requirements via methods other than general circulation newspaper notices failed in the House.
  • A Dave Toscano (D-Charlottesville) sponsored bill to require the Chairmen of the House Appropriations and Senate Finance committees to issue reports concurrently with the budget conference report that would identify any nonstate appropriations, items in the final report that were not included in either House’s version of the budget and whether any items included in the final report were defeated in either house during the session failed.

Lastly, Virginia Statehouse News takes a look at some of the FOIA bills from the session.

Elsewhere Around Virginia


Odds and Ends

The report varied in focus from bone-dry discussion of how to improve enterprise IT infrastructure to the creation of a central “data warehouse” for city agencies and a data portal for citizens and third-party developers, but a recurring theme was creating room for citizens to track what their government was doing and make more informed decisions based on data that government has.

The report also recommended that police officers interact with citizens on Facebook and community listservs, as a “part of a larger plan addressing public safety that had more to do with collecting, analyzing and disseminating real-time crime data to police on their handheld devices than it did with social media.”

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