Gov. Inslee vetoes public records bill passed by state legislators

    Gov. Jay Inslee

    Gov. Jay Inslee Thursday night vetoed the controversial public records bill passed by state legislators last week.

    In a news release by the governor’s office, lawmakers and media plaintiffs said they would work together on a more deliberate approach to crafting transparency laws for the Legislature.

    Inslee vetoed ESB 6617, a bill related to public disclosure obligations of the Legislature. According to the governor’s office news release, Inslee received a request Thursday evening from a number of legislators to veto the bill after they reached an agreement with media organizations about a process for working together on the issue.

    All legislators in Edmonds, Lynnwood and Mountlake Terrace had voted for the bill.

    Plaintiffs from the media lawsuit have agreed to join defendants in seeking a stay of proceedings in the trial court during the appeal, and further agree they will not try to enforce the trial court’s order during the appeal.

    “The public’s right to government information is one we hold dearly in Washington,” Inslee said. “Transparency is a cornerstone of a democratic government, and I’m very proud of my administration’s record on public disclosure. I believe legislators will find they can fulfill their duties while being fully transparent, just like state and local governments all across Washington.”

    Our online news partner The Seattle Times — one of the media organizations challenging the bill — said the move marks a stunning turnaround since last Friday, when legislators voted overwhelmingly to pass the bill exempting the Legislature from Washington’s voter-approved Public Records Act.

    Lawmakers approved the legislation 48 hours after announcing it, and without public hearings or floor debate, The Times said.

    But the swift action and lack of public input drew fierce blowback from state residents, open-government advocates and news organizations. According to The Times, by late Thursday afternoon, about 19,000 phone calls, emails and letters had poured into the governor’s office — almost of them urging Inslee oppose the bill

    You can read the complete Times story here.




    1. So what have we learned about all this? When enough people step up and make their voices known government sometimes responds. It took 10,000 voices here and 10,000 voices there and something got done, or in this case undone. These voices were from a broad base of folks not associated it a special cause or movement. Lets not forget how the people made their voices known and maybe we can do it again for the next issue that comes to the table.

      It appears we are going to take a breath and sort out what needs to be private and what needs to be public. If government works carefully here we can craft some good legislation that will make government better, more open and less fearful of public inquiries.

      Once we decide what is private and what is public then we should do some careful thinking about what and how people can get information they desire for free. It is one thing to say “do a public records request for what you want” as opposed to “lets make it available through with the technologies we already have like the internet” We should create ideas and methods to drastically reduce the need for a public records request. The Helen Hunt methods are so outdated and not in keeping with helping the public stay engaged with their government. The HH method has been named that because in some cases government as has said, “Go to Hell and Hunt for it.”

      The foundation of our whole system is a well educated and informed public who stay engaged with their government. It would be helpful if government would think about ideas to advance the knowledge and engagement of the public.

      The will of the people seemed to work this time, so lets stay engaged and do something else for the common good.


      • Yes, stay engaged; also lets remember “who” voted for ESB 6617, these legislators need to be reminded that we, the people, are watching them and they need to answer to us.


    2. Remember he WAS going to vote for it per his own statement until people started to call and get very vocal. Tells you that maybe we can stop all his taxes. He passed two new taxes last weekend. Did you even hear that? Thirty cents per gallon and 10 percent increase on your utilities.




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