The bill would not cover documents recently under public scrutiny, Armstead added.
Earlier this month Department of Commerce Secretary Keith Burdette declined to provide documents the Charleston Gazette requested. He said the documents were "embarrassing," according to the newspaper, but also cited case law that said any communication received during the decision-making process that helps in making a decision was exempt.
The case he referred to was the state Supreme Court's ruling in "Daily Gazette Co., Inc. v. West Virginia Development Office." The court states advice, opinions or recommendations from outside consultants or experts fall under FOIA exemptions.
The governor's office eventually released the report and said it did not withhold it because of any embarrassment but maintained it had the right to keep the document because of the current exemption.
The bill also calls for an electronic database of all FOIA requests and responses to those requests by public bodies.
The Secretary of State's office would maintain the database online. Agencies would be required to report how they acted on a request and justify the action in the information included in the database. The agency would need to provide that information within 30 days of making a final decision on the request, according to the bill.
The database would show the types of exemptions agencies are using and hold their feet to the fire if they don't want to release information, Armstead said.
"We feel like we're hearing a lot of anecdotal evidence about people having documents they've requested being withheld," Armstead said.
"If they have to justify why they're withholding it, maybe they'll be more reluctant to withhold it," Armstead said.
The bill was slated to come before the House Judiciary Committee Tuesday. Before its meeting, Chairman Tim Miley, D-Harrison, said it had been removed from the agenda.
Now it's expected to come before the committee when it meets Thursday.