Washington: High court ruling welcome on state Public Records Act

It seems reasonable to assume all public officials — from local school board and city council members to state legislators — are subject to the voter-approved Washington state Public Records Act. Yet, that’s not necessarily the case. Lawmakers have, over time, created exclusions for themselves, and thus have been able to withhold documents and information…


Oregon: Portland Wants Washington Court To Block Defense Attorney’s Public Record Request

Attorneys with the city of Portland are preparing to go to court in Washington state to try to stop a defense attorney from obtaining a 26-year-old police report in a child sex abuse case. It’s an unusual case because the record Portland leaders want to withhold belongs to another jurisdiction: the Clark County Sheriff’s Department. The record in…


Washington Attorney General’s Office updates Public Records Act Model Rules

OLYMPIA — Attorney General Bob Ferguson filed updates to the Public Records Act (PRA) Model Rules, reflecting changes in state law and helping the public and agencies navigate changing technology. The amended model rules are effective April 2, 2018. The model rules provide information about the PRA and some suggested best practices. They are advisory…


Washington Governor Vetoes Legislative Exemption Bill

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — Following a public outcry, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee vetoed a bill Thursday that sought to exempt Washington lawmakers from the state’s Public Records Act and legislators agreed to not take another vote to override his action. The agreement came hours before the measure — contested by media groups and open government…


Bill in Washington House would make lawmakers’ records public

Freshman state lawmaker Rep. Paul Graves has introduced a bill ahead of the 2018 legislative session that would remove language that exempts state legislators from the Public Records Act. The Fall City Republican said his Legislative Transparency Act would remove language that exempts state legislators from making their records accessible to the public, according to…


Jefferson County, WA commissioners approve $150,000 lawsuit settlement over open records

The Jefferson County Commissioners have approved a $150,000 settlement after a roughly four-year legal battle over the county’s internet access logs.

According to a statement from County Administrator Philip Morley, the settlement was negotiated between Jefferson County officials and Michael Belenski, who sued the county in 2012 after he was denied two public records requests.


Tacoma, Wa. to pay $50,000 for violating public records act

The city of Tacoma will pay a $50,000 fine and legal fees for violating the Public Records Act by withholding most of a nondisclosure agreement it signed to obtain cellphone surveillance equipment known as Stingray.

The News Tribune reports The Center for Open Policing sued the city for blacking out large portions of the document after the organization requested it in 2014.


Wa.: A matter of records: Governments look to change ways public gets information

Last year Yakima County responded to 2,453 requests for public documents. Many of those had multiple parts, each requiring research of thousands of documents.

For example, one recent request in the county’s planning department contained 10 boxes of documents.

Answering requests isn’t always simple. Documents must be reviewed to redact confidential information, a process that could take weeks or months depending on the size and scope of the request, said the county’s public records officer, Stormy Miller.


Wa.: Lawmakers seek to discourage serial public records requesters

A bipartisan pair of state lawmakers working on public disclosure legislation say they are trying to strike a balance between keeping the public informed and managing the costs of responding to records requests.

Rep. Terry Nealey, R-Dayton, and Rep. Joan McBride, D-Kirkland, are working on proposals to help government officials recoup more of their expenses while also discouraging massive requests that can cripple a city’s or county’s ability to respond.