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Published on Thursday, December 17, 2015

PDC considers converting guideline rules, local government provisions on the list of changes

Earlier this month the Public Disclosure Commission (PDC) announced plans to convert its long-standing interpretive statements to administrative rules. Interpretive statements are advisory only and the Administrative Procedures Act encourages agencies to convert long-stating interpretations to rules.  These changes affect various sectors of government, including cities. For cities, the PDC is considering converting its guidelines for local government agencies in election campaigns (Interpretation 04-02).

Specifically, the new rules will clarify which “election” activities are, and are not, appropriate to conduct in public facilities. While public facilities may not be used to support or oppose a candidate or ballot proposition (RCW 42.17A.555), the PDC notes that it is the right, and responsibility, of local government “to inform the general public of the operational and maintenance issues facing local agencies. This includes informing the community of the needs of the agency that the community may not realize exist. Local governments may expend funds for this purpose provided that the preparation and distribution of information is not for the purpose of influencing the outcome of an election.”

In addition to the above clarification, the PDC also comments on a public employees right to engage in political activity (outside of the workplace), and the PDC’s responsibility with enforcing RCW 42.17A.555.

The PDC is accepting public comment on the potential conversion. Please send feedback to Lori Anderson at the PDC.

Categories: General government