Despite lacking legal authority to do so, localities and agencies around the United States are still pointing to the COVID-19 pandemic as a reason for delaying responses to public records requests, sometimes indefinitely.
From restrictive laws contributing to prolonged response times, and high fees stopping the release of records, the State of State Public Records Laws is on a bumpy ride. To get a better sense of what’s going on at the state and local level, we’ve been analyzing our MuckRock data and finding the trends in records requesting.
Richmond School Board offers a special lesson in how the Virginia Freedom of Information Act is not supposed to work.
The Virginia Department of Corrections came under national scrutiny in September when visitors learned they would not be allowed to wear tampons or menstrual cups, citing them as an apparent contraband risk. A FOIA request for a more thorough explanation of the tampon ban - through policy documents and a log of contraband incidents alluded to in the Times - revealed a two-month wait of rejection, denial and, finally, the single-page document behind the ban.
Back in 2016, we wrote about how Shawn Musgrave’s FOIA request to the State Department about how long it takes to process FOIA requests was stuck in the department’s infamous bureaucratic limbo. We are happy to report that earlier this year, over four years later than the original estimated completion date, Musgrave had finally been given the fruit of his labors: Two whole pages, released in full.