H-1320.1          _______________________________________________


                         HOUSE CONCURRENT RESOLUTION 4418



State of Washington              52nd Legislature             1991 Regular Session


By Representatives Anderson, Jacobsen, McLean, Pruitt, Vance and Bowman.


Read first time April 18, 1991.  Referred to Committee on Rules Review.Creating the joint select committee on open government.

     WHEREAS, Liberal access to government records was mandated by a popular vote of the people as Initiative 276 and has enjoyed strong legislative and judicial support; and

     WHEREAS, The legislature remains strongly supportive of the principles:  (1) That public agencies shall make available for public inspection and copying all public records, RCW 42.17.250 and subsequent sections, (2) that actions of public agencies and their subdivisions be taken openly and that their deliberations be conducted openly, chapter 42.30 RCW, and (3) that the people of this state do not yield their sovereignty to the agencies which serve them and do not give their public servants the right to decide what is good for the people to know and what is not good for them to know; and

     WHEREAS, Enforcement of the Open Public Meeting Act and the Public Records Act has been clouded by uncertainty and ambiguity in some areas; and

     WHEREAS, Numerous other state laws purport to grant confidentiality to certain records and meetings of public agencies, but such laws have never been coordinated with the acts and are a source of confusion to the public when requests for access are made; and

     WHEREAS, The legislature has repeatedly been asked to amend both acts on a piecemeal basis; and

     WHEREAS, The legislature has not considered the overall impact of the many changes made in recent years to the various laws governing access to public records and attendance at government meetings, nor has it considered the relationships among these laws; and

     WHEREAS, It has been approximately twenty years since the passage of the basic state law providing citizens with the right of access to government records, and during this time important and far-reaching technological changes have occurred in the manner in which public records are obtained, stored, and released; and these technological changes are not specifically addressed in key provisions of this law and of other laws relating to the right of access to public records;

     NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, By the House of Representatives of the state of Washington, the Senate concurring, That a joint select committee on open government be hereby created to conduct a study on the adequacy of the state laws governing the public's rights to obtain access to government records and to attend meetings of government boards, commissions, and committees; and

     BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That the joint select committee be composed of eight members to be appointed as follows:  Two members from each caucus in the House of Representatives who shall be appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and two members from each caucus in the Senate who shall be appointed by the President of the Senate; and

     BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That the joint committee's study shall be comprehensive, and the committee shall develop recommendations, including, but not limited to, proposed legislation to accomplish the following changes in the laws relating to the right to access to public records and the right to attend government meetings:

     (1) Recodification, clarification, and modernization of the laws;

     (2) Revision and clarification of exemptions to make them more concise and precise without undermining the general principals of liberal access to government records and meetings;

     (3) Provision of a means to inform government officials and citizens on the rights under the laws and how they are enforced; and

     (4) Reductions in the delay and cost of obtaining fair and complete decisions on access requests; and

     BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That by January 1, 1992, the joint select committee shall submit its study report, including its recommendations for changing the law, to the members of the legislature.