Virginia lawmaker wants to make FOIA requests cheaper or free | Govt. & Politics
John Jones, executive director of the Virginia Sheriffs’ Association, said he was aware of sheriffs who receive multiple registration requests per day.
“And a lot of these sheriff’s offices are very understaffed,” Jones said. “And maybe the cost was the only thing that deterred some of them.
Phyllis Errico, an attorney representing the Virginia Counties Association, said the group would not approve Roem’s proposal, although he admits that the FOIA fees could use a study, adding that it may take ” hours and hours ”for governments to find documents responding to a given FOIA request.
Martin Crim, a Northern Virginia lawyer who represents several local governments, said he was aware of an applicant who requested all documents dealing with Lake Manassas, which led to an estimate of the costs of about $ 20,000.
“The idea is that if you give people carte blanche to have the local government hand over documents, they are going to use this tool inappropriately,” Crim said, adding that he saw many FOIA requests stemming from personal blood feuds. not matters of public interest.
Virginia State Police Lt. David Ostwinkle said his agency received nearly 5,000 FOIA requests in 2020, most taking less than two hours.
“Under this proposal, almost the entire cost of our operation would be absorbed without charge for the materials requested,” Ostwinkle said.