FREEDOM OF INFORMATION
COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA
Meetings and Notice Subcommittee held its second meeting on
Wednesday, July 7, 2004 at 2:00 p.m. The meeting was held
pursuant to the audio/visual meeting provisions of Chapter
704 of the Acts of Assembly of 1997 (as amended) ("the
Pilot Project"). Subcommittee member David Hallock attended
the meeting at the Richmond location, and subcommittee member
Wat Hopkins participated in the meeting remotely from Virginia
Tech via an audio/visual connection.1 Nine members of the
public attended the meeting at the Richmond location, and
one member of the public attended the meeting at the remote
reviewed a draft legislative proposal that included electronic
meeting and notice changes discussed at the first meeting.
The draft would amend § 2.2-3707 of the Code of Virginia
so as to require state public bodies in the executive branch
of government to post notice of their meetings on the Internet.
The subcommittee discussed whether it might be better to require
all state public bodies, which would include public bodies
in the legislative and judicial branch of government, to post
notice on the Internet. Both subcommittee members present
voted to recommend that the Internet notice be required of
all public bodies, but directed staff to research whether
such a requirement would have unintended consequences for
the judicial branch.
next addressed proposed changes to § 2.2-3708 relating
to electronic meetings. The draft would have shortened the
notice required for electronic meetings from 30 days to seven
days, to parallel the notice required by the Pilot Project.
A representative of Senate Clerk's office stated that seven
days was a good compromise, while representatives of the press
and access groups expressed concern that seven days was not
enough notice for electronic meetings. Both subcommittee members
present voted to recommend that the notice for electronic
meetings be changed to seven working days, as opposed to the
calendar days presented in the draft.
issues were also addressed in the draft, such as eliminating
the limitation that a public body may only hold 25 percent
of its meetings each year via electronic means. This led to
a discussion amongst the subcommittee members and the members
of the public as to whether electronic meetings were a positive
thing for which access should be made easier or whether more
restrictive provisions concerning electronic meetings should
be retained. It was noted that the Pilot Program, which contains
less restrictive elements, was set to sunset in July, 2005
and must be addressed by the 2005 Session of the General Assembly
if it is to continue. It was also noted the Joint Commission
on Technology and Science (JCOTS) had indicated that it would
review the electronic meeting provisions and make recommendations
concerning the Pilot Project. In light of JCOTS' involvement,
the subcommittee decided that it would like to meet with representatives
of JCOTS before deciding what further changes it would recommend
concerning electronic meetings, so as to hopefully reach an
agreement with JCOTS and not present conflicting legislation
at the 2005 Session.
the issue of making electronic public access more widely available
through the use of public-access dial-in numbers to listen
to meetings was discussed at the first meeting. The subcommittee
requested that a representative from the House Clerks Office
report on the feasibility and costs of this idea at the next
full FOIA Council meeting on September 16, 2004.
was adjourned. The next meeting date was not set, and staff
will consult with JCOTS to arrange a meeting between the subcommittee
and JCOTS representatives.
member E.M. Miller was not present at the subcommittee meeting.