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Welcome to AWC’s online library of Legislative Bulletin and CityVoice news articles and other updates.

Published on Monday, July 7, 2014

New Open Government Laws in Effect

Two new open government requirements recently took effect for cities and other local governments. It is important to note that both of these requirements apply to all city governing bodies, not just the city council. The definition of a governing body under the Open Public Meetings Act includes a much broader group, including planning commissions, library or park boards, and other sub-agencies created by statute or ordinance.

Training Requirements

With the Legislature’s passage of ESB 5964, elected officials, public records officers, and governing body members must complete open government training every four years.

  • Open Meetings: Every member of a governing body (including members of boards and commissions) of a public agency must complete open meetings training within 90 days after taking the oath of office or otherwise assuming official duties. Training must be completed every four years, and may be completed remotely.
  • Public Records and Records Retention: All elected officials, people appointed to vacancies in elected offices, and public records officers/managers must complete training in public records and record retention within 90 days after taking the oath of office or otherwise assuming official duties. The training must be consistent with the Attorney General’s model rules for compliance with the public records act and records retention. The training also must be completed every four years.

The training requirement is not meant to be onerous and provides a great deal of flexibility in how officials can comply. Training may be taken remotely (i.e., webinar), provided locally by your city attorney, or completed at an offsite training event.

AWC has developed an Open Government Resources page that lists upcoming trainings and webinars, including AWC’s recently recorded open government webinar, and provides guidance on the new requirements.

Posting Meeting Agendas Online

The Legislature also passed SHB 2105, which requires the governing bodies of a public agency to post the agenda of each regular meeting at least 24 hours in advance online. The requirement applies only to public agencies with a website and at least 10 employees. Agendas may be amended after posted, and failure to post an agenda does not invalidate an otherwise legal action nor provide a basis for awarding attorney fees or seeking a mandamus or injunction under the Open Public Meetings Act. Questions about this requirement? Check out MRSC’s Q&A.