RIGHT TO KNOW

Virginia General Assembly members would have to disclose who's giving them big checks right before they vote on new laws under a bill that passed out of a state Senate committee Tuesday.The bill, sponsored by Sen. David Suetterlein, R-Salem, would require lawmakers to disclose donations over $1,000 during the...
The Virginia Supreme Court sided with administrators at George Mason University in a closely-watched lawsuit challenging whether private fundraising foundations established by public universities can keep donor records secret.The justices wrote in an opinion issued Thursday that private foundations, no matter how closely intertwined with the university they serve,...
Every year, Virginia’s state-run liquor monopoly puts out a roster of its best-selling products. And this year, just like the year before, Tito’s Handmade Vodka took the top spot.But those overall sales figures conceal a rich and varied tapestry of local liquor preference.Courtesy of freshly compiled data by the...
The Virginia Supreme Court heard oral arguments Wednesday in a closely-watched dispute over fundraising foundations established by public universities and whether they should be subject to freedom of information laws that govern the schools themselves.The case hails from George Mason University, where a student group called Transparent GMU sued...
Virginia’s court system made it a lot easier to find online court records last week, quietly rolling out a statewide search function on its website that allows users to search by a defendant’s name to find docket information about criminal and traffic charges back to 1990 or earlier in...
Twenty years ago, open government advocates across the country were urging legislatures to modernize public records laws by moving past antiquated definitions of public records.Not only were they trying to drop the cumbersome lists of every type of record that could be used in the transaction of public business,...
Susan Gray Eakin Page, a digital archives coordinator at the Library of Virginia, considers the painstaking process of making former Gov. Tim Kaine’s records accessible online “one of her babies.”Kaine turned over more than 900 boxes of paper records and almost two million electronic records when he left office...
The Freedom of Information Act Advisory Council will study a bill that would require universities to share the terms and conditions of donations from private entities.Del. David Bulova, D-Fairfax, introduced House Bill 2386 to create firm rules on when donors to public colleges and universities can be anonymous; what...
In late summer 2018, the West Virginia House of Delegates voted to impeach its Supreme Court's four sitting judges; the fifth one had resigned earlier.What started the whole ball rolling was a TV news report that found the justices had been throwing money around like newly signed professional athletes.Collectively,...
My first job at a daily newspaper, which I started 12 years ago this month in the swamps of south Louisiana, may have spoiled me as far as what to expect from public records laws.Louisiana, where I worked for five years and a place I dearly love, might not...