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W.Va. Freedom of Information Act changes in effect

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A new era of transparency in West Virginia begins today, as revisions to the state’s Freedom of Information Act officially become enacted.

“All West Virginians benefit from these changes to the state’s Freedom of Information Act,” said Don Smith, executive director of the West Virginia Press Association

The new law, which Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin signed in April, makes significant changes to the state’s Freedom of Information Act.

The act allows media and the general public to request documents, such as emails and government contracts, from state officials and agencies.

Such changes include mandating the creation of a FOIA database, removing language that previously allowed journalists to request identifying information pertaining to concealed gun permits and eliminating the ability for government officials to charge unwieldy fees for fulfilling requests.

The update to the FOIA law only allows public bodies to now charge the true cost of producing the material, which is a significant departure from previous practices.

Some agencies in West Virginia were charging a variety of hourly costs, including some that called for fees as high as $200 an hour…

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