Please Contact Your State Legislator Tomorrow

Update: well, the majority of our legislature voted for this bill to cover their asses.  Bravo for them.

Roll Call
ESB 6617
Legislative records
Final Passage
Yeas: 83 Nays: 14 Absent: 0 Excused: 1
Voting Yea: Representatives Appleton, Barkis, Bergquist, Blake, Buys, Chandler, Chapman, Clibborn, Cody, Condotta, DeBolt, Dent, Doglio, Dolan, Dye, Eslick, Fitzgibbon, Frame, Goodman, Gregerson, Griffey, Haler, Hansen, Hargrove, Harris, Hayes, Holy, Hudgins, Irwin, Jenkin, Jinkins, Johnson, Kagi, Kirby, Klippert, Kloba, Kretz, Kristiansen, Lovick, Lytton, MacEwen, Macri, Manweller, Maycumber, McBride, McCabe, McCaslin, McDonald, Morris, Nealey, Orcutt, Ormsby, Ortiz-Self, Peterson, Pettigrew, Pike, Pollet, Riccelli, Robinson, Rodne, Ryu, Santos, Schmick, Sells, Senn, Shea, Slatter, Springer, Stanford, Steele, Stokesbary, Stonier, Sullivan, Tarleton, Taylor, Tharinger, Valdez, Van Werven, Vick, Volz, Wilcox, Wylie, Chopp
Voting Nay: Representatives Caldier, Fey, Graves, Harmsworth, Kilduff, Kraft, Muri, Orwall, Pellicciotti, Reeves, Sawyer, Stambaugh, Walsh, Young
Here's what my one of my reps, Javier Valdez, said with my replies:

Let's take those concerns, one by one.

- Constituent privacy: Our first job is to work on behalf of our constituents. If they do not have confidence that their private correspondence will remain private, we cannot do our jobs.

So how is it that the Governor, city councils, school boards, etc. can get their work done with open public disclosure? You are not the only ones to work under these conditions.

- The open flow of ideas and advice is crucial to the legislative environment. Legislators and staff should feel free to share ideas, good or bad, without hesitation that this sharing might expose sensitive discussions.

So talk in person if you need to. But if you are using taxpayer items like email and phones, we should get to see what is said.

- Political fishing expeditions: The legislature is a political place by nature. There is a real concern about using disclosure laws as weapons, either legislatively or in an election.
Aren't you responsible for the actions you take as an elected official? If anything, it would protect you.

end of update

Most of you know, I'm a big believer in transparency in public entities.   The overwhelming majority of government entities are subject to public disclosure including the Governor.  But not our state legislature which stubbornly refuses to be transparent.

Please contact your state reps and tell them: Do NOT vote for SB 6617
Backstory via the News Tribune:
Washington state lawmakers who want to circumvent a recent ruling finding them fully subject to the state's public disclosure laws on Wednesday introduced a bill that seeks to make some of their records public but would retroactively prohibit the release of other records being sought by a coalition of news organizations.

Read more here:

The measure comes as lawmakers are in the midst of appealing the ruling of a superior court judge who sided with the media groups, led by the Associated Press, who argued lawmakers had illegally been withholding documents like daily calendars, emails and text messages. The bill would officially remove the legislative branch from the state's Public Records Act, but, starting on July 1, it would allow release of some correspondence, "specified information" from lawmaker calendars, and final disciplinary reports.

The move comes as the Legislature was trying to appeal directly to the state Supreme Court for direct review of Superior Court Judge Chris Lanese's Jan. 19 ruling that state representatives and senators and their offices are agencies subject to the Public Records Act.

Read more here:

It's too late in the legislative session for a public hearing on the bill, so it will be heard before a joint work session of the Senate and House State Government Committees at noon Thursday. Unlike normal work sessions though, Nelson said public testimony will be allowed. However there will no committee vote on the bill, which will instead be pulled directly to the Senate floor on Friday. The House is expected to take it up and pass it the same day.

Read more here:

Read more here:
Here's the latest from the News Tribune's editorial page:

Under normal circumstances, we cheer bipartisanship and applaud Democratic and Republican leaders for coming together on legislation. But the cynical game that’s afoot at the state Capitol this week is being played under abnormal circumstances and should be met with jeers, not cheers.

Washington Senate Majority Leader Sharon Nelson, a Democrat, and Minority Leader Mark Schoesler, a Republican, have quietly conspired in an eleventh-hour ambush on the public’s inalienable right to know how their elected representatives operate.

Read more here:

The bill Nelson and Schoesler introduced Wednesday would all but carve out a separate PRA for the legislative branch. It would let lawmakers release communications, calendar items and other records they’re comfortable releasing; they could withhold others while hiding behind a fig leaf of constituent privacy — all the more suspect because it’s based on their own fluid definition of a constituent.

Sure, the bill would require legislators to disclose contacts with registered lobbyists. But that leaves them absurdly wide latitude to keep secrets with corporate honchos, union chiefs and other “constituents” who write big campaign checks and shape policy behind the scenes. 

This proposal also would let lawmakers bottle up all preliminary drafts, notes and other work-related material that form the backbone of laws they’ve already passed and decisions they’ve already made — a luxury that city councils and other local legislative bodies don’t have.

Why should legislators be given cover for their past actions on sexual harassment, official misconduct and other controversial matters?

What’s more, the bill’s authors have the audacity to invoke an “emergency clause,” despite the fact state government has managed to function for decades without these disclosure constraints. If they want to change the law, bring a bill up next session when it can be fairly and thoughtfully debated in hearings and on the floor.

Legislators would have the absolute right to deny release of a record without oversight from any court; instead, all appeals would go through House and Senate committees. (Insert fox-henhouse analogy here.)

Please, please contact your legislators tomorrow morning.  This stinks on ice.

Read more here:

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Watching said…
This is what I call malignant bipartisanship.

Here is the spin: The legislature will be providing more publically disclosed information than ever before.

Truth: Prior to the court case, the legislature was not providing media and others with documents. As is, the legislature will only provide information as it relates to lobbyists. The level of information falls short of court order.

Spin: Lawmakers are concerned about lack of privacy.

Truth: There are 500 exemptions.

The legislature created a system that does not provide judicial oversight.

Truth: The fox is guarding the hen house. One does not have to look further than Washington DC to understand that we need stronger laws to protect us from the government.

There are probably enough votes that would not permit the governor to veto.

Excuse: Some lawmakers claim that their offices do not have enough staff to handle requests and they would be personally liable.

Truth: There were 3 bills that could have and should have been forwarded for consideration. The bills would of sent FOIA documents to a larger department.

Spin: The court will probably accept the new law.

Truth: Washington state has a NEW law. Very likely this will end appeal process.

Disgusting display by lawmakers. No one that voted for this bill gets a free pass.

Gerry Pollet says he will advocate for judicial review. The bill has passed both houses. Let's see his luck getting this one back on the floor.

Shame on Sharon Nelson for sponsoring this bill.

Don't underestimate the deals that are made in Olympia.

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