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A Note from WCOG:

Dear Friends of Open Government,

The 2015 legislative session is underway, and once again Washington Coalition for Open Government will be keeping a watchful eye for bills that would impact your access to government information, and keep you updated on the status of those bills as they move through the process.

 

 
·  Already, just in the first week, 594 bills were introduced, and 24 of them have been flagged as being of interest to WCOG members. The Bill Status Report attached includes summaries of those 24 bills, including status, commentary, and recommended positions. Some of the most important of these include the following:

 

 
·     HB 1035 – Protecting the personal information of a person acting as a guardian ad litem (Moeller) – Creates a new exemption in the Public Records Act for the current residential address, current telephone number, and “All other identifying information that may be used to harm a guardian ad litem”. The problem is that it exempts this infoanywhere it appears in public records – hugely difficult and expensive. In the State Government committee. OPPOSE
 
·         HB 1085 – Requiring lobbying reports to be filed electronically (Moeller) – Adds a new section to the Public Disclosure Act to require lobbyists, including public agency lobbyists, to file disclosure reports electronically. It’s about time! In State Government.SUPPORT.
 
·         HB 1086 – Establishing a cost recovery mechanism for public records sought for commercial purposes (Moeller) – Would allow agencies to recover the cost of respond the requests for records that are going to be resold for a profit. Many people don’t want to use taxpayer dollars to subsidize “out of state data miners,” but there are many for-profit users of public records who could be impacted by this. We worked hard to improve HB 1037 from the last biennium; this bill is similar in intent, but the language has changed a lot. We’re still looking it over and will decide our position and amendments we want in the near future. Your input is welcome! In State Government; public hearing is 1/20/15 at 10AM.

 

 
·    HB 1189 – Regarding hours of availability of cities, towns, and special purpose districts for inspection and copying of public records (S. Hunt) – Tries to help very small agencies that don’t have any full-time employees (there are a lot of them!) by extending the time they have to respond to public records requests, but the potential delays in the current bill at too long. OPPOSE in current form. In State Government. Public hearing is 1/20/15 at 10AM.

 

 
·     SB 5154– Concerning registered sex or kidnapping offenders (Hargrove) – Throws a thick blanket over all records related to the sex and kidnapping offender registration program. It’s a huge overreaction to a requester who is trying to get more detail about offenders in her neighborhood that is available from the current statewide offender web site. OPPOSE the overbroad exemption. In Law & Justice. Public hearing is 1/22/15 at 8AM.

 

 
·  Please see the attached report for more details on these and other bills. The flow of bill introductions builds a lot in the second week of session, so expect to see many more bills soon. Please contact your legislators – especially if they’re on the relevant committees – and tell them how you feel about these bills!

 

 
Best regards,
Toby Nixon
President, Washington Coalition for Open Government