Rob McKenna (R)
OLYMPIA, Wash. (Legal Newsline)-Hoping to reduce costly litigation over denied public records requests, Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna is seeking to overhaul the state's Public Records Act.
The Republican attorney general and the state auditor are asking the state Legislature to create an independent Office of Open Records that would have administrative authority to enforce the state's open records laws.
"State agencies and local governments face a logjam of citizen complaints, costly litigation over the Public Records Act and the Open Public Meetings Act, and uncertainty regarding potential liability that may require payment of attorneys' fees, costs, and daily penalties. All of this impacts ever-shrinking budgets, forcing government to cut other vital services to comply," the attorney general's legislative agenda said.
"Citizens who are denied access to public records and public meetings currently have no choice other than to go to court, and lawsuits are often costly and time-consuming, many taking years to resolve," it continued.
The attorney general and the state auditor are specifically asking that lawmakers create the open records office that could provide a "speedy and inexpensive" process for resolving disputes over public records disclosures and issue advisory opinions on agency duties.
They ask that the proposed office be directed by a gubernatorial appointee who may only be removed for cause. The legislation calls for an effective date in 2011.
From Legal Newsline: Reach staff reporter Chris Rizo at firstname.lastname@example.org.