Editors asked to provide update
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The West Virginia Press Association Convention 2015 will include a special panel discussion on West Virginia’s newly revised Freedom of Information Act (3 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 15).
To prepare, the WVPA is asking for editors and reporters to provide input on FOIA-related developments involving media organizations and/or the communities you cover.
The past 15 months have seen significant swings in West Virginians’ access to government records. In April 2014, the state Supreme Court of Appeals ruled (in Nitro v.Nease) that agencies could charge requesters not just for the cost of making copies but also for the time it took to find and gather those records. (The ruling can be read athttp://www.courtswv.gov/supreme-court/docs/spring2014/13-0603.pdf) That decision prompted a number of agencies to charge new or increased fees for answering FOIA requests.
This year, in part because of efforts by WVPA and its members, and Delegate Tim Armstead, speaker of the House of Delegates, the Legislature revised the statute to specifically rule out search fees. The revision also expanded the definition of documents subject to FOIA requests, and made other important changes.
Here’s a Charleston Daily Mail article on the legislation: http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150401/DM01/150409975/1276).
The WVPA would like to hear from you by July 24 on FOIA, including any or all of the following:
- New or increased fees, or other effects, after the Nitro ruling
- Fee eliminations or reductions in response to the statute’s revision this year
- FOIA-related news reports or editorials in the past 18 months (include hyperlinks or copies if possible)
- Your FOIA-related comments or concerns
- Your ideas for further changes in these areas
Professor Tom Stewart of WVU’s Reed College of Media is collecting this information and will participate in the panel discussion. Please email your information and ideas to him at [email protected]. If you have any questions, call Stewart at 412-559-9269.
Remember to reserve your room at The Embassy Suites: 304-347-8700 and use WVPA Room Block code PSS