Lawmakers introduce bill to circumvent public records ruling

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — Washington state lawmakers who want to circumvent a recent ruling finding them fully subject to the state’s public disclosure laws on Wednesday introduced a bill that seeks to make some of their records public but would retroactively prohibit the release of other records being sought by a coalition of news organizations.

The measure, introduced Wednesday, comes as lawmakers are in the midst of appealing the ruling of a superior court judge who sided with the media groups, led by the Associated Press, who argued that lawmakers had illegally been withholding documents like daily calendars, emails and text messages. A summary of the proposal obtained by The Associated Press says it would officially remove legislative office from the state’s Public Records Act, but, starting on July 1, it would allow release of some of their correspondence related to legislative business but exempt constituents; “specified information” from lawmaker calendars; and final disciplinary reports.

All four political caucuses in the House and Senate were briefed Wednesday morning on the bill that’s co-sponsored by Democratic Senate Majority Leader Sharon Nelson and Republican Senate Minority Leader Mark Schoesler.