Why Did Some of our Local Politicians Vote to Keep Legislative Records Secret?

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    I am very surprised at this turn of events in Olympia and more surprised that some of our local West Seattle representatives were involved in voting for this rushed through bill. See this morning’s Seattle Times if you aren’t aware of what’s going on.

    Can anyone out there enlighten me on why those local reps voted to exempt themselves from the Public Records Act? I cannot find an explanation from any our of representatives for their approval vote and I’m trying to be a reasonable person here. I would like to hear an explanation of why they think their governmental communications should be exempt from Public Records. I’ve left phone messages with our local reps.



    Some? Both Joe Fitzgibbon and Eileen Cody voted for it.



    Sen. Sharon Nelson also voted for the bill, Senate Bill 6617, which would exempt state lawmakers from Washington’s Public Records Act.

    The hurried bill followed a lawsuit brought by many Washington media organizations last year, including The Seattle Times and The Associated Press, in which a Thurston County judge ruled last month that the legislature IS subject to the Public Records Act. The ruling is being appealed, but in breakneck speed, state legislators pushed through the bill (in 48 hours and without a public hearing or floor debate) to exempt themselves from the state law that the judge said they were obligated to follow. According to The Seattle Times this morning, Inslee’s office has been flooded with emails in recent days urging him to veto the bill. He has until the end of Thursday to allow it to become law or veto all or part of it.

    Below is a link to The Times’ Page One editorial today, the first time the newspaper has published an editorial on its front page in 110 years. The link also includes contact information for Inslee and legislators (including Fitzgibbon, Cody and Nelson).




    The intro to the bill actually gives a pretty good statement of their rationale for wanting to have a separate statute regarding legislative branch records, just as the judicial branch does. Protecting the privacy of constituents’ emails and other communications is the reason I’ve seen given most often. The biggest concern I see is the section that prohibits judicial review of denied requests.

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