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Published on Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Cities Suggest Changes to the Public Records Act, Sunshine Committee Agrees

During its October 28, 2014, meeting the Washington State Sunshine Committee considered two changes to the Public Records Act (PRA). Brought forward by the cities of Kent and Fife, the changes were unanimously approved by the Committee and will be recommended to the 2015 Legislature. AWC fully supports these changes, and will do so during the 2015 legislative session.

Kent’s issue revolved around protecting the confidentiality of sensitive real estate transaction documents under the PRA. Current law regarding executive sessions under the Open Public Meetings Act (OPMA) protects the confidentiality of discussions of real estate matters, but no such protection of confidential documents is recognized in the PRA. The Sunshine Committee voted to recommend the same PRA protection for sensitive real estate transaction records as we do under the Open Public Meetings Act (OPMA) for executive session discussions.

Fife’s issue concerned protecting the confidentiality of family members and guardians of children enrolled in parks programs. Statutory provisions enacted by the Legislature in 2010 provide a protection against disclosure of the names and identities of children enrolled in local parks and recreation programs (RCW 42.56.230). However, that same protection does not extend to the legal guardians and/or immediate family of the child. Again, the Committee voted to recommend to the 2015 Legislature these extended protections.