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Introduced Version House Concurrent Resolution 154 History

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HOUSE CONCURRENT RESOLUTION NO. 154

    (By Delegates Armstead, Ambler, Arvon, Ashley, Azinger,

    Butler, Cadle, Cooper, Ellem, Ellington, Espinosa,

    A. Evans, D. Evans, Faircloth, Ferns, Fleischauer,

    Folk, Frich, Gearheart, Guthrie, Hamilton, Hamrick,

    Howell, Ireland, Kump, McCuskey, Miley, Miller,

    E. Nelson, Overington, Pasdon, Raines, Romine, Rowan,

    Shott, R. Smith, Sobonya, Storch, Walker, Walters,

         Wells and Westfall)

Requesting the Joint Committee on Government and Finance to study the possible revision of the current law of the state relating to the disclosure of public records, including the definition of public records, exemptions to disclosure of public records and the impact of the current exemptions on the right of the public and the media to gain access to the actions of public bodies.

    Whereas, All persons are entitled to full and complete information regarding the affairs of government and the official acts of those who represent them as public officials and employees; and

    Whereas, The people, in delegating authority, do not give their public servants the right to decide what is good for the people to know and what is not good for them to know; and

    Whereas, The right of the public and the media to access information relating to the operation of state government and the expenditure of public funds is crucial to the public oversight of its government and assists in preventing inappropriate conduct, malfeasance and corruption, and revealing wasteful and inefficient spending; and

    Whereas, West Virginia law provides that “every person has a right to inspect or copy any public record of a public body in this State,...” subject to enumerated exemptions of certain categories of information to protect certain information of a confidential, personal or proprietary nature, or for the protection of the public; and

    Whereas, Some of the enunciated exemptions, through practice or by judicial interpretation, have been applied in an overly broad manner resulting in the denial of requests for disclosure of certain information in a manner that is contrary to the expressed public policy of the state; and

    Whereas, Certain exemptions limiting the right of access to public records may result in the denial of requests for the disclosure of public records which should be disclosed to the public or the media; and

    Whereas, The exemption to the Freedom of Information Act permitting governmental agencies to withhold correspondence and internal memoranda has resulted in the public and the media being denied information that should be disclosed; therefore, be it

    Resolved by the Legislature of West Virginia:

    That the Joint Committee on Government and Finance is hereby requested to study needed revision of the current law of the state relating to the disclosure of public records, including the definition of public records, exemptions to disclosure of public records and the impact of the current exemptions on the right of the public and the media to gain access to records related to the actions of public bodies; and, be it

    Further Resolved, That the Joint Committee on Government and Finance report to the regular session of the Legislature, 2014, on its findings, conclusions and recommendations, together with drafts of any legislation necessary to effectuate its recommendations; and, be it

    Further Resolved, That the expenses necessary to conduct this study, to prepare a report and to draft necessary legislation be paid from legislative appropriations to the Joint Committee on Government and Finance.

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