Editorial: Washington lawmakers make welcome hike in penalties for violating open meetings law

Washington state lawmakers took a positive step this spring toward making sure public business is conducted in the open.

The state’s Open Public Meetings Act sets strict standards for the governing bodies of public agencies. With only narrow exceptions, discussions and decisions by public agencies must be open to the public.

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D.C. Board of Medicine keeping the public in the dark

The D.C. Board of Medicine, which regulates doctors, nurses and other health professionals, has done just about everything possible that could violate the Open Meetings Act, failing to follow the statute in at least four distinct ways, according to the watchdog Open Government Office, an independent agency of D.C. government.

In a strongly worded opinion issued Thursday, the Office concluded the board misunderstood and misapplied the law and warned that the problems may have spread further in the parent agency, D.C. Department of Health.

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Higher fines OK’d for violating Washington’s open meetings law

The penalties will be pricier for public officials who knowingly attend meetings in violation of Washington state’s open-meetings law.

The state’s Open Public Meetings Act requires all meetings of governing bodies of public agencies to be open to the public.

The law covers agencies, commissions, departments, education institutions, local governments, special purpose districts and state boards. Continue…

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Colorado colleges seek exemption to open meetings law

A bill that would allow two Colorado colleges’ governing boards to make decisions outside of public meetings is working its way through the Colorado Legislature, but it may see pushback from one of those colleges.

House Bill 1259 would allow the boards of trustees for Aims Community College and Colorado Mountain College to “meet” electronically, opening the door for meetings via web portal, email or any other digital platform through which the public would essentially be unable to attend.

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Wisconsin board’s records action appears to have violated open meetings law

An obscure board overseeing state public records gave so little notice of a move to sharply limit electronic records that it appears to have violated the state's open meetings law, attorneys and open records advocates say.

The changes have already had an impact — they were used by Gov. Scott Walker's administration as a reason not to release records just one day after the action was quietly taken in August by the Public Records Board, which oversees the preservation and handling of government records.

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