OLYMPIA, Washington (Legal Newsline) — Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson says he welcomes the advancement of his bill to update the Open Public Meetings Act by the House State Government Committee.
Ferguson’s plan would see the modernization of penalties for knowingly violating the act’s requirements from $100 to $500. This update would put the monetary penalty in line, roughly, with inflation since the law was originally enacted in 1971. Ferguson’s bill would also add a $1,000 penalty for repeat knowing violations.
“Ensuring open government is the best way to promote good government,” Ferguson said. “I am pleased this overdue update has passed its first legislative hurdle. I am disappointed, however, to see this bipartisan legislation receive a party-line vote. Transparency in government should not be a partisan issue. I call on members of both parties to support this legislation on the House floor.”
Those in support of Ferguson’s bill included committee chairman Sam Hunt (D-Olympia), vice chair Steve Bergquist (D-Renton), Rep. Noel Frame (D-Seattle) and Rep. Luis Moscoso (D-Mountlake Terrace).
Those in opposition to the bill included ranking minority member Jeff Holy (R-Cheney), assistant ranking minority member Luanne Van Werven (R-Lynden) and Rep. Brad Hawkins (R-East Wenatchee).