Washington State. Transparency Begats Request for More


The (Spokane, Wash.) Spokesman-Review reports on an effort in Washington State to update and close loopholes in their far-reaching open government law. In 1972, voters, in an effort to make state and local government transparent, passed the Public Disclosure Act, which requires counties and state agencies to open their meetings and files to the public. It’s been quite successful.

But the Washington State Legislature still conducts much of its business behind closed doors thanks to what some call “legislative priviledge.” The law allows legislative clerks to keep ‘hidden’anything that’s not deemed an “official action of the House or Senate, such as lawmakers’ emails and letters. State lawmakers set up a committee to look into scrapping the double standard. And the committee’s chair has gone on record saying that since every other legislative body in the state is subject fully to the law, there’s no principled reason why the state Legislature should be exempt. “Open government is not easy,” he said. “But I do believe that it is for the best.” Amen!

Looking forward to discussing this with Bill Schrier, CTO of the City of Seattle this morning on my panel at the Tech Policy Summit.