29B-1-1: Declaration of Policy
Pursuant to the fundamental philosophy of the American constitution form of representative government which holds to the principle that government is the servant of the people, and not the master of them, it is hereby declared to be the public policy of the state of West Virginia that all persons are, unless otherwise expressly provided by law, entitled to full and complete information regarding the affairs of government and the official acts of those who represent them as public officials and employees. The people, in delegating authority, do not give their public servants the right to decide what is good for the people to know and what is not good for them to know. The people insist on remaining informed so that they may retain control over the instruments of government they have created. To that end, the provisions of this article shall be liberally construed with the view of carrying out the above declaration of public policy. (1977,c147.)
29B-1-3: Inspection and copying
- Every person has a right to inspect or copy any public record of a public body in this state, except as otherwise expressly provided by section four of this article(29B-1-4).
- A request to inspect or copy any public record of a public body shall be made directly to the custodian of such public record.
- The custodian of any public records, unless otherwise expressly provided by statute, shall furnish proper and reasonable opportunities for isnpection and examination of the records in his or her office and reasonable facilities for making memoranda or abstracts therefrom, during the usual business hours, to all persons having occasion to make examination of them. The custodian of the records may make reasonable rules and regulations necessary for the protection of the records and to prevent interference with the regular discharge of his or her duties. If the records requested exist in magnetic, electronic or computer form, the custodian of the records shall make such copies available on magnetic or electronic media, if so requested.
All requests for information must state with reasonable specificity the information sought. The custodian, upon demand for records made under this statute, shall as soon as is practicable but within a maximum of five days not including Saturdays, Sundays or legal holidays:
- Furnish copies of the requested information;
- Advise the person making the request of the time and place at which he or she may inspect and copy the materials; or
Deny the request stating in writing the reasons for such denial.
Such a denial shall indicate that the responsibility of the custodian of any public records or public body to produce the requested records or documents is at an end, and shall afford the person requesting them the opportunity to institute proceedings for injunctive or declaratory relief in the circuit court in the county where the public record is kept.
- The public body may establish fees reasonably calculated to reimburse it for its actual cost in making reproductions of such records. (1977,c147;l992,c.85.)