Washington Legislature passes Attorney General’s open government training bill

Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s bill to strengthen Washington state’s open government laws by requiring training for most public officials has passed the Legislature and is on its way to the Governor’s desk.

Ferguson worked with Sen. Joe Fain, R-Auburn, and Rep. Gerry Pollet, D-Seattle, to secure approval of the “Open Government Trainings Act,” Engrossed Senate Bill 5964.

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Bill moves to study FOIA exemptions

Want to know what your government is really up to?

The Virginia Freedom of Information Act allows citizens of the commonwealth (and representatives of the media) to gain access to numerous records held by state and local agencies, government officials and other public authorities, along with providing the right to attend public meetings.

The presumption of the FOIA is that all records and all meetings are to be open to the public — unless there is a special exemption specifying secrecy.

Sounds good, right?

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Editorial: Washington State House of Reps take strong action for open access

The state House of Representatives took strong, progressive action last week on two bills that improve citizen access to public information. Now they’re on to the Senate, where they deserve passage and enactment.

House Bill 2015 would require that meeting agendas be posted online by public agencies at least 24 hours before a meeting. It passed the House by a vote of 85-13. Rep. Brad Hawkins (R-Wenatchee) voted in favor of the bill; Rep. Cary Condotta (R-East Wenatchee) voted no. Both represent the 12th District, including the Methow Valley.

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Time for Legislature to live by open government rules

With policy cutoff behind us, the list of living and walking dead bills (nothing is really dead till sine die) is being compiled. Among the proposals that didn’t even receive a hearing, however, is a bill based on WPC’s recommendation for the Legislature to truly provide Washingtonians the opportunity to participate in the legislative debate while also ensuring lawmakers live by the same open government rules the rest of the state’s public officials operate under.

As noted by Peter Callaghan of The Tacoma News Tribune:

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Hawaii launches “WHO’S YOUR LEGISLATOR?” apps

The State of Hawaii has launched two applications, “Your 2014 Hawaii State Senate” and “Your 2014 Hawaii State House”, as a response to requests from the members of the public during an Open Government workshop at the Hawaii Digital Government Summit last year.

Sen. Jill Tokuda, who led the breakout group on legislative information, said workshop participants were very interested in an app to help citizens find their legislative representatives.

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Nicholas Co. (W VA) Commission gets lesson in ethics & open meetings law

Public business must be carried out in the open. That’s self-evident, but it still does not always happen.

The latest example of the failure of a local government in West Virginia to be open about the public’s business comes from the Nicholas County Commission.

Last August, the Commission hired Roger Beverage as the county administrator at a salary of $60,000 a year. A local citizen, Tim Clifford, challenged the hiring, claiming the Commission acted illegally.

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ED: Lining Up To Keep More Things Secret From The Public

Well, no surprise here. Now that the General Assembly has needlessly weakened the state's Freedom of Information Act, a variety of interest groups want to carve out exemptions to the law for themselves.

In a word, no. Bad idea. The public ought to be able to copy public records and attend public meetings and know what public officials are doing. Residents of Connecticut have given lawmakers no reason to weaken the FOI. The solons shouldn't have done it last year, and they shouldn't do it again.

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