Lawmakers move forward on legislative exemption bill

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — A day after Washington lawmakers introduced a bill to exempt themselves from the state’s voter-approved Public Records Act, they held an informal work session on the measure a day before both the Senate and House are set to take final votes to pass it out of the Legislature.

Even lawmakers on the committee noted that many of them were still trying to sort through the bill, which has been put on a legislative fast track as the Legislature is in the midst of appealing a Jan. 19 ruling of a superior court judge who sided with media groups, led by the Associated Press, who had argued lawmakers had illegally been withholding documents like daily calendars, emails and text messages.

Thurston County Superior Court Judge Chris Lanese ruled that state representatives and senators and their offices are agencies and fully subject to public disclosure requirements that cover other local and state elected officials and state agencies.