What Comes Next for Legislative Transparency?.

What Comes Next for Legislative Transparency?

The 2018 Legislature has adjourned, and the work for open government continues.

When Gov. Jay Inslee vetoed SB6617, which would have exempted the state legislature from the Public Records Act, it was with a promise that legislators would meet with stakeholders to craft a new bill for the 2019 session. The budget approved this session includes a provision for a task force to “examine establishing standards for maintaining and disclosing public records for the legislative branch.”

WCOG expects to be involved, although no task force has yet convened.

“Our plan will be to be actively engaged in the task force,” said WCOG President Toby Nixon. “But fundamentally we want the legislature to be subject to the PRA like every other state and local agency as was the original intent of the people who adopted I-276.” The Public Records Act was adopted by an initiative of the people in 1972.

WCOG has also honored three Washingtonians who were among the few citizen voices to address legislators during the 48-hour adoption, without public hearings and with little legislative debate, of SB 6617. Former Whidbey Examiner Owner Kasia Pierzga of Olympia, Navy retiree Gordon Paget of Vancouver and The News Tribune Publisher and President David Zeeck have been presented with Key Awards for their effort to keep access to government unlocked by addressing the legislature on this bill.

Also, at least 13 Washington newspapers helped rally citizens to lobby against the legislation and convince Gov. Inslee to veto SB 6617 by running rare front-page editorials describing the rushed process during which is was adopted, and the potential harm to transparency in state government.

Signatures are being gathered for at least two open government initiatives.

For more details about 2018 legislative action involving open government, here’s the KBTC Northwest Now Sunshine Week program.