- Associated Press - Thursday, August 28, 2014

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - The Secretary of State’s Office has scrubbed plans to charge fees to obtain public filings for businesses and organizations.

The Charleston Gazette (http://bit.ly/1u1UGJK) reported the change scheduled to begin Sept. 4 was rescinded by Secretary of State Natalie Tennant’s office Thursday.

“I answer to the people of West Virginia, and I’ve taken action to address their concerns,” Tennant said. “We will not be charging additional fees.”

Secretary of State spokesman Jake Glance said Tennant has directed her office to develop other solutions to ensure the public can secure business licensing records, while allowing employees to serve businesses.

The new fees had called for a $5 charge to have a document sent by email and $10 to have a document faxed. For printed versions obtained by mail or picked up in person, it would have been $1 for the first page and 50 cents for each page thereafter.

The fee proposal came after some entities requested a large amount of documents at one time after online records were removed from the Secretary of State’s website in June after one displayed an individual’s Social Security number. Glance said researching the documents took up staff members’ time and resources.

Glance said the office will post any alternative proposals before adopting them and might limit the number of requests it will respond to within a specific time period.

West Virginia Press Association executive director Don Smith praised the decision to rescind the fee proposal.

“We respect the need to look at all costs related to office operations,” Smith said. “However, we agree with Tennant’s statement that making ‘sure the public has access to the information they need’ is the greatest concern.”

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Information from: The Charleston Gazette, http://www.wvgazette.com