A message on Public Records Bill Veto

As you know, last week I voted in support of SB 6617, which would have provided some steps toward government transparency in the Legislature for the first time in decades. The bill included opening correspondence with lobbyists and lawmakers’ calendars to public scrutiny, while still keeping personal emails and letters from constituents private.

This bill was rushed through the Senate and then the House without going through the regular legislative process. While a work session did take place, there were no hearings, which means there was no opportunity for public input.

The hastiness and lack of transparency in the process to get it through both chambers left a lot to be desired, and gave a lot to be upset about. However, when it came time to vote, I felt that voting in support of a policy proposal that promoted more government transparency would be better than voting against it.

Many of you, upset by the way this bill was passed, voiced your outrage, which was understandable.

I am grateful that this is a mistake that can be fixed. I, along with many my colleagues, signed a letter asking the governor to veto this bill, which he did, in its entirety.

This is an issue that clearly needs more time for discussion before we come up with a workable solution that everybody can live with.

The plan is for Governor Inslee to convene a task force with representatives from his office, the Attorney General’s office, the news media, open government advocates, lawmakers, and others, to engage in a very public process and bring back recommendations to the Legislature next year.

Transparency is important to me, and I’m glad that it’s also important to you.

Sincerely,

Sells Sig