Updated FOIA law paves way for transparency

An editorial from the Charleston Daily Mail 

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia’s state government got a little more transparent last week when a bill updating the state’s Freedom of Information Act went into effect.

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin signed House Bill 2636 in April, updating the law that allows the media and public to request government documents such as emails and contracts from state and local government agencies.

The update calls for the creation of an electronic FOIA database, removes language that previously allowed reporters to request identifying information pertaining to concealed gun permits and eliminates the ability for government agencies to levy exorbitant fees for fulfilling requests, the Daily Mail’s Joel Ebert reported.

Although the bill exempts information about concealed weapons permits, it does hold governmental agencies more accountable. The secretary of state’s office will be responsible for creating and updating the database, which is expected to be ready in January.

“Transparency has been the focus of this office,” Secretary of State Natalie Tennant said. “This database that we are creating continues to show the commitment we have in providing information to the people of West Virginia.”

Once the database is live, public agencies will have to provide the name of the person or entity requesting a document, whether the request was granted or denied and any charges the requester had to pay. If the request is denied, the agency will have to explain why…

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