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Published on Monday, December 12, 2016

PRA stakeholder group on verge of concluding, legislative proposals in the works

Rep. Joan McBride (D-Kirkland) and Rep. Terry Nealey (R-Dayton) convened a group of stakeholders over the interim to discuss challenges and possible solutions to public records issues. The stakeholder group is large and includes varied interests including cities and other local governments, newspapers, commercial records users, state agencies, and the Washington Coalition for Open Government. The group has met four times since June and plans to meet a final time on December 14. This final meeting is to review draft language around a few changes to public records laws.

The groups focused its work on four areas: authorizing a small fee for producing electronic copies of records; allowing for a small fee for providing customized access (non-routine specialized work) to records; establishing an alternative dispute resolution process; funding grants to assist jurisdictions with improvements to their records management programs; addressing extraordinary requests for all of an agency’s records and computer automated “bot” requests; and addressing agency responsiveness through model ordinance updates and other tools.

We anticipate that the legislators who are working on the proposals will have legislation ready to go when the 2017 session begins in January. We are very appreciative to Reps. McBride and Nealey for taking the lead and to Rep. Springer (D-Kirkland) and Rep. Senn (D-Mercer Island) for also stepping up to help draft proposals.

As you are talking with your legislators, please convey to them the importance your city places on open government and the investment that you make in upholding the Public Records Act. Cities are the stewards of open government and we need to talk about that commitment as well as the need for revisions to the law so that we can continue that commitment.

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