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W.Va. Court Allows Fee for FOIA Records Searches

Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia

The state Supreme Court has ruled that government agencies can charge an hourly fee for locating public documents requested under the West Virginia Freedom of Information Act.
The court ruled 4-1 in a decision released Thursday.
The justices overturned a Kanawha County circuit judge's ruling that said the city of Nitro didn't have the authority to enact an ordinance to establish an hourly search fee for documents.

The circuit judge had concluded the city could only charge for the cost of copying the documents, but the Supreme Court disagreed.
The justices said the Legislature has previously approved rules that allow various state agencies to charge search fees in FOIA document requests.
In a dissenting opinion, Justice Brent Benjamin said the fees should only apply to copying costs, not searches.

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