A. The Council shall receive and review a request for the approval of travel submitted by a person required to file the disclosure form prescribed in § 2.2-3117 or 30-111 to accept any travel-related transportation, lodging, hospitality, food or beverage, or other thing of value that has a value exceeding $100 where such approval is required pursuant to subsection G of § 2.2-3103.1 or subsection F of § 30-103.1. A request for the approval of travel shall not be required for the following, but such travel shall be disclosed as may be required by the Acts:
1. Travel disclosed pursuant to the Campaign Finance Disclosure Act (§ 24.2-945 et seq.);
2. Travel paid for or provided by the government of the United States, any of its territories, or any state or any political subdivision of such state;
3. Travel provided to facilitate attendance by a legislator at a regular or special session of the General Assembly, a meeting of a legislative committee or commission, or a national conference where attendance is approved by the House Committee on Rules or its Chairman or the Senate Committee on Rules or its Chairman; or
4. Travel related to an official meeting of the Commonwealth, its political subdivisions, or any board, commission, authority, or other entity, or any charitable organization established pursuant to § 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code affiliated with such entity, to which such person has been appointed or elected or is a member by virtue of his office or employment.
B. When reviewing a request for the approval of travel, the Council shall consider the purpose of the travel as it relates to the official duties of the requester. The Council shall approve any request for travel that bears a reasonable relationship between the purpose of the travel and the official duties of the requester. Such travel shall include any meeting, conference, or other event (i) composed primarily of public officials, (ii) at which public policy related to the duties of the requester will be discussed in a substantial manner, (iii) reasonably expected to educate the requester on issues relevant to his official duties or to enhance the requester's knowledge and skills relative to his official duties, or (iv) at which the requester has been invited to speak regarding matters reasonably related to the requester's official duties.
C. The Council shall not approve any travel requests that bear no reasonable relationship between the purpose of the proposed travel and the official duties of the requester. In making such determination, the Council shall consider the duration of travel, the destination of travel, the estimated value of travel, and any previous or recurring travel.
D. Within five business days of receipt of a request for the approval of travel, the Council shall grant or deny the request, unless additional information has been requested. If additional information has been requested, the Council shall grant or deny the request for the approval within five business days of receipt of such information. If the Council has not granted or denied the request for approval of travel or requested additional information within such five-day period, such travel shall be deemed to have been approved by the Council. Nothing in this subsection shall preclude a person from amending or resubmitting a request for the approval of travel. The Council may authorize a designee to review and grant or deny requests for the approval of travel.
E. A request for the approval of travel shall be on a form prescribed by the Council and made available on its website. Such form may be submitted by electronic means, facsimile, in-person submission, or mail or commercial mail delivery.
F. No person shall be prosecuted, assessed a civil penalty, or otherwise disciplined for acceptance of a travel-related thing of value if he accepted the travel-related thing of value after receiving approval under this section, regardless of whether such approval is later withdrawn, provided the travel occurred prior to the withdrawal of the approval.
2015, cc. 763, 777; 2016, cc. 773, 774.