Last week, we voted to approve Senate Bill 6617, the Legislative Public Records Act, which changed how public records would be handled in the Legislature. Unfortunately, the bill should have had more public input and the opportunity for robust debate on the floor of the House of Representatives.
Until now, public access to legislative records has been restricted. SB 6617 changed that by requiring lawmakers’ calendars, all correspondence between lawmakers and lobbyists, and final decisions of investigations and disciplinary proceedings to be open to the public. The merits of the policy were sound, but rushing legislation through the legislature that has such important impacts on the public’s right to know was not the answer.
We thank those of you who took the time to contact us with your concerns and your dismay regarding the process. You were heard.
We believe that the best path forward is to start over, which is why last night we joined with many of our colleagues to ask Governor Inslee to veto Senate Bill 6617.
We will convene a task force including the public, the media, open government groups and legislators to develop recommendations on public records for the 2019 Legislature. We are hopeful we can bring all parties together to improve transparency while protecting constituent privacy.
No matter how the collaborative process or the legal case plays out, we each commit to working with our staff to develop a process for disclosing more records, such as our legislative calendars and lobbyist communications.
Thank you again for reaching out and voicing your opinions on this important issue.
Rep. Roger Goodman Rep. Larry Springer