No recognition for legislator this year.

No Recognition for Legislator This Year

 

The WCOG board of directors decided to not present a 2016 Ballard/Thompson Award, which typically recognizes a member or members of the state legislature who demonstrated outstanding dedication to the cause of open government during the previous legislative session.

The award is named in honor of former Speaker of the House Clyde Ballard, a Republican; and former Chief Clerk of the House, Representative, and Senator Alan Thompson, a Democrat. Both were founding members of WCOG.

Since its inception in 2011, the award has been presented on an annual basis when the board recognizes a recipient who meets the criteria set by WCOG.

“Advocates for open government were focused on playing defense during the 2016 legislative session – just keeping bad things from happening,” said Toby Nixon, president of the Coalition. “And while there were a few legislators who contributed well to that defense, none stood out as one to recognize – and so we don’t have a Ballard-Thompson award recipient this year. But there will be many opportunities to shine in 2017, and we hope to have some legislative champions who really make good things happen or stop bad things from happening.”

The board acknowledged the ongoing efforts of Speaker of the House Frank Chopp (D-Seattle), who has resisted efforts to weaken public records and public meetings laws. Chopp, however, already received the Ballard/Thompson Award in 2013 for quashing legislation that would have weakened the Public Records Act, in part by allowing agencies to sue citizens in order to avoid public records disclosures.

Previous winners have included Sen. Reuven Carlyle (D-Seattle) in 2015, in recognition of his longstanding work promoting access to tax records, especially in regard to tax breaks given to corporations. The 2014 recipient was Sen. Joe Fain (R-Auburn), who was the prime sponsor of legislation mandating training about access laws for most elected officials and public records officers. The first recipient was former state Sen. Bob Morton (R-Kettle Falls), for his efforts through 21 years in the legislature to strengthen and improve the state Open Public Meetings Act.

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