OLYMPIA – Attorney General Rob McKenna will headline a series of Open Government Forums, sponsored by a number of major daily newspapers across the state, in an effort to increase citizen involvement in government and to gather input for model rules on public disclosure. The forums begin next Tuesday, July 26, in Kitsap County at the Olympic College Theater in Bremerton.
“Access to open government is vitally important in a free society,” McKenna said. “These forums are designed to bring people who seek access to government information together with those who are charged with providing it, in an effort to find common ground and build trust.”
McKenna spearheaded the effort to update the state’s Public Disclosure Act during the 2005 legislative session.
“When voters approved the state's Public Disclosure Act nearly 30 years ago, they wanted to make sure Washington's government was accessible and transparent,” McKenna said. “Over the years, a series of exemptions and court decisions have chipped away at the foundation of this law. That’s why we worked so hard to pass this year’s public disclosure enhancements.”
The new public disclosure law, which goes into effect on Sunday, July 24, prohibits government agencies from denying public records requests solely because they are overly broad.
The new law also helps government agencies comply by allowing them to respond to requests on a partial or installment basis. It helps protect against nuisance requests by allowing agencies to ask for a deposit on each installment of a public records request or to cease fulfilling a request if an installment is not picked up.
Finally, the law authorizes the attorney general to adopt a model rule on public records disclosure.
“We’re holding hearing across the state for several reasons,” McKenna said. “First, we want to make sure people are aware of the changes we made during the last legislative session. Second, we want to give people the opportunity to share their perceptions of our state’s public records laws so we can develop our model rules. Finally, we want to bring people on both sides of public records requests together so we can find ways to encourage open government without burdening government agencies with too many difficult requirements.
“There are innovative ways to meet open government goals,” McKenna said. “We’re looking for best practices across the state to build our model rules. These best practices will greatly assist both records requestors and government agencies.”
The Attorney General’s Office is partnering with local daily newspapers in sponsoring forums in 13 Washington cities.
Open Government Tour Schedule:
- 7 to 8:30 pm on Tuesday, July 26: Olympic College Theater, 1600 Chester Ave. in Bremerton, Kitsap Sun hosting
- 7 to 8:30 pm on Tuesday, Aug. 16: Yakima Valley Community College – HUB activity rm., corner of 16th and West Nob Hill Blvd., Herald-Republic hosting
- 7 to 8:30 pm on Wednesday, Aug. 17: Wenatchee Valley College Theater, 1300 Fifth St., Wenatchee World hosting
- 7 to 8:30 pm on Tuesday, Aug. 23: Everett Community College – Jackson Conf. Rm., 2000 Tower St., The Herald hosting
- 7 to 8:30 pm on Wednesday, Aug. 24: Grays Harbor College, Joseph A. Malik Admin. Bldg., Rm. #220, 1620 Edward P. Smith Dr. in Aberdeen, The Daily World hosting
- 7 to 8:30 pm on Wednesday, Sept. 7: Lower Columbia College Student Center, 1600 Maple in Longview, The Daily News hosting
- Tuesday, Sept. 13: Tacoma, News Tribune hosting (location TBA) (Rescheduled)
- 7 to 8:30 pm on Tuesday, Sept. 20: Skagit Valley College cafeteria, 2405 East College Way in Mt. Vernon, Skagit Valley Herald hosting
- 6:30 to 8 pm on Thursday, Sept. 22: Location TBA, Tri-City Herald hosting
- 7 to 8:30 pm on Wednesday, Sept. 28: NW Museum of Art and Culture, Eric A. Johnston Memorial Auditorium, 2316 W. First Ave. in Spokane, Spokesman-Review hosting
- 7 to 8:30 pm on Monday, Oct. 3: Capitol Campus, House Hearing Room A, in the John L. O’Brien Building in Olympia, The Olympian hosting
- 7 to 8:30 pm on Wednesday, Oct. 5: WSU Vancouver Auditorium, 14204 NE Salmon Creek Ave., The Columbian hosting
- 7 to 8:30 pm on Tuesday, Oct. 11: Washington State Convention and Trade Center, Room 4C-2 in Seattle, Seattle Times hosting
- 7 to 8:30 pm on Monday, Oct. 10: The News Tribune Baker Conference Rooms, 1950 South State Street, The News Tribune hosting
For more information contact:
Janelle Guthrie, AG Media Relations Director, (360) 586-0725 or (360) 561-4184