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 advocates — would have become law.

In turn, a media coalition that sued over legislative records last year agreed to seek a stay of proceedings in the trial court during an appeal from last month’s court ruling that found state lawmakers are fully subject to the same broad public disclosure requirements that cover other local and state elected officials and employees at state agencies. The Legislature is in the process of appealing that ruling, and while a stay was likely to be granted in the case regardless, the media groups agreed to officially request the stay with the defendants and to not seek enforcement of the order while the case is on appeal.

“The public’s right to government information is one we hold dearly in Washington,” Inslee said in a written statement issued after the veto.

The media groups also agreed to not launch an initiative effort while the stay was in place, and to work on a task force with lawmakers and others to try and resolve some of the issues surrounding legislative records while the court case continues. Read more…