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McKenna proposes fix to public records disputes

By Jessica M. Karmasek | Jan 4, 2011


OLYMPIA, Wash. (Legal Newsline) - Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna released on Monday his list of legislative proposals for 2011, including a pilot program that would allow members of the public to settle their public records disputes with government agencies.

The Attorney General's Office and the State Auditor's Office's Open Government Task Force both recommended the creation of an administrative board to rule on complaints of violations of the Public Records Act and the Open Public Meetings Act.

"It's our hope that this pilot program will expand in the years to come, broadening access to government information," McKenna said in a statement. "It will also prevent expensive lawsuits over the denial of records."

McKenna also proposed two bills specifically targeted to save money by preventing lawsuits concerning open government matters.

One bill, sponsored by state Sen. Craig Pridemore, D-Vancouver, requires records requesters seeking court penalties to first notify a government agency of their intent to file a lawsuit over denied records.

The other piece of legislation, sponsored by state Rep. Deb Eddy, D-Kirkland, provides a one-year statute of limitations for suing over denied records.

"As a former mayor and city councilmember, and as a state legislator, I recognize the importance of providing access to government information," Eddy said in a statement.

"Clear open records laws provide access to records and the courts -- and ultimately save taxpayer money," he said.

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by e-mail at jessica@legalnewsline.com.

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