ACLU sues WV House of Delegates over open meetings law violation, on behalf of Morgantown businessman

West Virginia

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The American Civil Liberties Union of West Virginia (ACLU-WV) and
Huntington attorney Hoyt Glazer filed a lawsuit Wednesday against the West Virginia House of Delegates and the House Government Organization Committee for knowingly violating the Open
Governmental Proceedings Act during the 2021 Legislative Session.

Citing the COVID-19 pandemic, officials restricted public access to the state Capitol building during
the session. For most West Virginians, an online audio feed was the only way to remain informed of
the Legislature’s actions. However, on March 23, members of the House Government Organization
Committee continued to conduct official business despite knowing the live feed was malfunctioning, ACLU-WV officials said.

“Open meetings laws are at the very foundation of our democracy,” ACLU-WV Legal Director
Loree Stark said. “Without basic transparency and the opportunity of the public to observe
government business, we cease to be a government for and by the people.”

During the session, the committee advanced four pieces of legislation that were later passed and signed into law. All four laws must be voided, Stark said. ACLU-WV takes no position on the substance of the legislation itself.

The incident was not the only time state lawmakers met despite knowing the public could not hear
discussion, ACLU-WV officials said. During a Wednesday, March 24 meeting of the House Technology and Infrastructure Committee, the audio feed again malfunctioned and committee members again continued to meet, officials allege.

The committee later reconvened and reconsidered the bills passed during the March 24 session,
following a legal threat from ACLU-WV.

The lawsuit is brought on behalf of Robert King, who is the sole proprietor of R&R Transit, a
Morgantown-based limousine company
. King had a business interest in one of the bills advanced
during the unlawful March 23 meeting.

King said, “As a business owner and resident in West Virginia, I follow the Legislature closely. I
have a right to know what politicians are doing in Charleston, but the House of Delegates and the
Government Organization Committee denied me my rights by denying me the ability to observe
meetings that must be publicly open about matters that directly affect me.”

You can read the full lawsuit here.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Link to 12 things you need to know page

WBOY 12 News Facebook Page

Trending Stories