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Tennant backs off on document access fees

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Days before new fees for access to public records were to take effect, Secretary of State Natalie Tennant said her office will instead continue providing the documents for free.

The announcement came one day after a Daily Mail story on the fees.

“I answer to the people of West Virginia, and I’ve taken action to address their concerns,” Tennant said in a news release. “We will not be charging the additional fees.”

The fees were to take effect Sept. 4, according to a notice on the Secretary of State website. It appeared Thursday afternoon the notice had been removed.

The documents in question relate to West Virginia businesses and provide information on articles of incorporation, certificates of dissolution, and statements of mergers and changes of officers.

The documents used to be available online, but that changed in June when a local insurance agent noticed her Social Security number was left on a document.

 That led the office to take certain kinds of documents off the website. Jake Glance, spokesman for Tennant’s office, told the Daily Mail Wednesday that the office was inundated with records requests after the documents were pulled from the website.

Staff members had to go through documents manually for each request, in addition to making sure personal information had been redacted.

A press release Glance emailed to reporters Thursday said the statement about fees beginning Sept. 4 was an advance notice “to gather feedback…

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