CERTIFICATION OF ENROLLMENT
ENGROSSED SUBSTITUTE HOUSE BILL 2876
1992 Regular Session
Passed by the House March 10, 1992
Yeas 97 Nays 0
Speaker of the
House of Representatives
Passed by the Senate March 6, 1992
Yeas 49 Nays 0
I, Alan Thompson, Chief Clerk of the House of Representatives of the State of Washington, do hereby certify that the attached is ENGROSSED SUBSTITUTE HOUSE BILL 2876 as passed by the House of Representatives and the Senate on the dates hereon set forth.
President of the Senate
Approved Place Style On Codes above, and Style Off Codes below.
Governor of the State of Washington
Secretary of State
State of Washington
ENGROSSED SUBSTITUTE HOUSE BILL 2876
AS AMENDED BY THE SENATE
Passed Legislature - 1992 Regular Session
State of Washington 52nd Legislature 1992 Regular Session
By House Committee on State Government (originally sponsored by Representatives Anderson, McLean, R. Fisher, Pruitt, Bowman and Basich)
Read first time 02/07/92.
AN ACT Relating to open government; amending RCW 42.17.020, 42.17.260, 42.17.290, 42.17.320, 42.17.330, and 42.17.340; reenacting and amending RCW 42.17.310; adding new sections to chapter 42.17 RCW; and creating a new section.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF WASHINGTON:
Sec. 1. RCW 42.17.020 and 1991 sp.s. c 18 s 1 are each amended to read as follows:
(1) "Agency" includes all state agencies and all local agencies. "State agency" includes every state office, department, division, bureau, board, commission, or other state agency. "Local agency" includes every county, city, town, municipal corporation, quasi-municipal corporation, or special purpose district, or any office, department, division, bureau, board, commission, or agency thereof, or other local public agency.
(2) "Ballot proposition" means any "measure" as defined by RCW 29.01.110, or any initiative, recall, or referendum proposition proposed to be submitted to the voters of the state or any municipal corporation, political subdivision, or other voting constituency from and after the time when the proposition has been initially filed with the appropriate election officer of that constituency prior to its circulation for signatures.
(3) "Depository" means a bank designated by a candidate or political committee pursuant to RCW 42.17.050.
(4) "Treasurer" and "deputy treasurer" mean the individuals appointed by a candidate or political committee, pursuant to RCW 42.17.050, to perform the duties specified in that section.
(5) "Candidate" means any individual who seeks election to public office. An individual shall be deemed to seek election when he first:
(a) Receives contributions or makes expenditures or reserves space or facilities with intent to promote his candidacy for office; or
(b) Announces publicly or files for office.
(6) "Commercial advertiser" means any person who sells the service of communicating messages or producing printed material for broadcast or distribution to the general public or segments of the general public whether through the use of newspapers, magazines, television and radio stations, billboard companies, direct mail advertising companies, printing companies, or otherwise.
(7) "Commission" means the agency established under RCW 42.17.350.
(8) "Compensation" unless the context requires a narrower meaning, includes payment in any form for real or personal property or services of any kind: PROVIDED, That for the purpose of compliance with RCW 42.17.241, the term "compensation" shall not include per diem allowances or other payments made by a governmental entity to reimburse a public official for expenses incurred while the official is engaged in the official business of the governmental entity.
(9) "Continuing political committee" means a political committee that is an organization of continuing existence not established in anticipation of any particular election campaign.
(10) "Contribution" includes a loan, gift, deposit, subscription, forgiveness of indebtedness, donation, advance, pledge, payment, transfer of funds between political committees, or transfer of anything of value, including personal and professional services for less than full consideration, but does not include interest on moneys deposited in a political committee's account, ordinary home hospitality and the rendering of personal services of the sort commonly performed by volunteer campaign workers, or incidental expenses personally incurred by volunteer campaign workers not in excess of fifty dollars personally paid for by the worker. Volunteer services, for the purposes of this chapter, means services or labor for which the individual is not compensated by any person. For the purposes of this chapter, contributions other than money or its equivalents shall be deemed to have a money value equivalent to the fair market value of the contribution. Sums paid for tickets to fund-raising events such as dinners and parties are contributions; however, the amount of any such contribution may be reduced for the purpose of complying with the reporting requirements of this chapter, by the actual cost of consumables furnished in connection with the purchase of the tickets, and only the excess over the actual cost of the consumables shall be deemed a contribution.
(11) "Elected official" means any person elected at a general or special election to any public office, and any person appointed to fill a vacancy in any such office.
(12) "Election" includes any primary, general, or special election for public office and any election in which a ballot proposition is submitted to the voters: PROVIDED, That an election in which the qualifications for voting include other than those requirements set forth in Article VI, section 1 (Amendment 63) of the Constitution of the state of Washington shall not be considered an election for purposes of this chapter.
(13) "Election campaign" means any campaign in support of or in opposition to a candidate for election to public office and any campaign in support of, or in opposition to, a ballot proposition.
(14) "Expenditure" includes a payment, contribution, subscription, distribution, loan, advance, deposit, or gift of money or anything of value, and includes a contract, promise, or agreement, whether or not legally enforceable, to make an expenditure. The term "expenditure" also includes a promise to pay, a payment, or a transfer of anything of value in exchange for goods, services, property, facilities, or anything of value for the purpose of assisting, benefiting, or honoring any public official or candidate, or assisting in furthering or opposing any election campaign. For the purposes of this chapter, agreements to make expenditures, contracts, and promises to pay may be reported as estimated obligations until actual payment is made. The term "expenditure" shall not include the partial or complete repayment by a candidate or political committee of the principal of a loan, the receipt of which loan has been properly reported.
(15) "Final report" means the report described as a final report in RCW 42.17.080(2).
(16) "Gift," for the purposes of RCW 42.17.170 and 42.17.2415, means a rendering of anything of value in return for which reasonable consideration is not given and received and includes a rendering of money, property, services, discount, loan forgiveness, payment of indebtedness, or reimbursements from or payments by persons (other than the federal government, or the state of Washington or any agency or political subdivision thereof) for travel or anything else of value. The term "reasonable consideration" refers to the approximate range of consideration that exists in transactions not involving donative intent. However, the value of the gift of partaking in a single hosted reception shall be determined by dividing the total amount of the cost of conducting the reception by the total number of persons partaking in the reception. "Gift" for the purposes of RCW 42.17.170 and 42.17.2415 does not include:
(a) A gift, other than a gift of partaking in a hosted reception, with a value of fifty dollars or less;
(b) The gift of partaking in a hosted reception if the value of the gift is one hundred dollars or less;
(c) A contribution that is required to be reported under RCW 42.17.090 or 42.17.243;
(d) Informational material that is transferred for the purpose of informing the recipient about matters pertaining to official business of the governmental entity of which the recipient is an official or officer, and that is not intended to confer on that recipient any commercial, proprietary, financial, economic, or monetary advantage, or the avoidance of any commercial, proprietary, financial, economic, or monetary disadvantage;
(e) A gift that is not used and that, within thirty days after receipt, is returned to the donor or delivered to a charitable organization. However, this exclusion from the definition does not apply if the recipient of the gift delivers the gift to a charitable organization and claims the delivery as a charitable contribution for tax purposes;
(f) A gift given under circumstances where it is clear beyond any doubt that the gift was not made as part of any design to gain or maintain influence in the governmental entity of which the recipient is an officer or official or with respect to any legislative matter or matters of that governmental entity; or
(g) A gift given prior to September 29, 1991.
(17) "Immediate family" includes the spouse, dependent children, and other dependent relatives, if living in the household.
(18) "Legislation" means bills, resolutions, motions, amendments, nominations, and other matters pending or proposed in either house of the state legislature, and includes any other matter that may be the subject of action by either house or any committee of the legislature and all bills and resolutions that, having passed both houses, are pending approval by the governor.
(19) "Lobby" and "lobbying" each mean attempting to influence the passage or defeat of any legislation by the legislature of the state of Washington, or the adoption or rejection of any rule, standard, rate, or other legislative enactment of any state agency under the state Administrative Procedure Act, chapter 34.05 RCW. Neither "lobby" nor "lobbying" includes an association's or other organization's act of communicating with the members of that association or organization.
(20) "Lobbyist" includes any person who lobbies either in his own or another's behalf.
(21) "Lobbyist's employer" means the person or persons by whom a lobbyist is employed and all persons by whom he is compensated for acting as a lobbyist.
(22) "Person" includes an individual, partnership, joint venture, public or private corporation, association, federal, state, or local governmental entity or agency however constituted, candidate, committee, political committee, political party, executive committee thereof, or any other organization or group of persons, however organized.
(23) "Person in interest" means the person who is the subject of a record or any representative designated by that person, except that if that person is under a legal disability, the term "person in interest" means and includes the parent or duly appointed legal representative.
(24) "Political advertising" includes any advertising displays, newspaper ads, billboards, signs, brochures, articles, tabloids, flyers, letters, radio or television presentations, or other means of mass communication, used for the purpose of appealing, directly or indirectly, for votes or for financial or other support in any election campaign.
(25) "Political committee" means any person (except a candidate or an individual dealing with his own funds or property) having the expectation of receiving contributions or making expenditures in support of, or opposition to, any candidate or any ballot proposition.
(26) "Public office" means any federal, state, county, city, town, school district, port district, special district, or other state political subdivision elective office.
(27) "Public record" includes any writing containing information relating to the conduct of government or the performance of any governmental or proprietary function prepared, owned, used, or retained by any state or local agency regardless of physical form or characteristics.
(28) "Surplus funds" mean, in the case of a political committee or candidate, the balance of contributions that remain in the possession or control of that committee or candidate subsequent to the election for which the contributions were received, and that are in excess of the amount necessary to pay remaining debts incurred by the committee or candidate prior to that election. In the case of a continuing political committee, "surplus funds" mean those contributions remaining in the possession or control of the committee that are in excess of the amount necessary to pay all remaining debts when it makes its final report under RCW 42.17.065.
(29) "Writing" means handwriting, typewriting, printing, photostating, photographing, and every other means of recording any form of communication or representation, including, but not limited to, letters, words, pictures, sounds, or symbols, or combination thereof, and all papers, maps, magnetic or paper tapes, photographic films and prints, motion picture, film and video recordings, magnetic or punched cards, discs, drums, diskettes, sound recordings, and other documents including existing data compilations from which information may be obtained or translated.
As used in this chapter, the singular shall take the plural and any gender, the other, as the context requires.
NEW SECTION. Sec. 2. A new section is added to chapter 42.17 RCW under the subchapter heading "public records" to read as follows:
The people of this state do not yield their sovereignty to the agencies that serve them. The people, in delegating authority, 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. The people insist on remaining informed so that they may maintain control over the instruments that they have created. The public records subdivision of this chapter shall be liberally construed and its exemptions narrowly construed to promote this public policy.
Sec. 3. RCW 42.17.260 and 1989 c 175 s 36 are each amended to read as follows:
Each agency, in accordance with published rules, shall make available for
public inspection and copying all public records, unless the record falls
within the specific exemptions of subsection ((
(5))) (6) of this
section, RCW 42.17.310, 42.17.315, or other statute which exempts or prohibits
disclosure of specific information or records. To the extent required to
prevent an unreasonable invasion of personal privacy interests protected by RCW
42.17.310 and 42.17.315, an agency shall delete identifying details in a manner
consistent with RCW 42.17.310 and 42.17.315 when it makes available or
publishes any public record; however, in each case, the justification for the
deletion shall be explained fully in writing.
(2) For informational purposes, each agency shall publish and maintain a current list containing every law, other than those listed in this chapter, that the agency believes exempts or prohibits disclosure of specific information or records of the agency. An agency's failure to list an exemption shall not affect the efficacy of any exemption.
(3) Each local agency shall maintain and make available for public inspection and copying a current index providing identifying information as to the following records issued, adopted, or promulgated after January 1, 1973:
(a) Final opinions, including concurring and dissenting opinions, as well as orders, made in the adjudication of cases;
(b) Those statements of policy and interpretations of policy, statute, and the Constitution which have been adopted by the agency;
(c) Administrative staff manuals and instructions to staff that affect a member of the public;
(d) Planning policies and goals, and interim and final planning decisions;
(e) Factual staff reports and studies, factual consultant's reports and studies, scientific reports and studies, and any other factual information derived from tests, studies, reports, or surveys, whether conducted by public employees or others; and
(f) Correspondence, and materials referred to therein, by and with the agency relating to any regulatory, supervisory, or enforcement responsibilities of the agency, whereby the agency determines, or opines upon, or is asked to determine or opine upon, the rights of the state, the public, a subdivision of state government, or of any private party.
(4) A local agency need not maintain such an index, if to do so would be
unduly burdensome, but it shall in that event:
(a) Issue and publish a formal order specifying the reasons why and the extent to which compliance would unduly burden or interfere with agency operations; and
(b) Make available for public inspection and copying all indexes maintained for agency use.
By July 1, 1990,)) (5) Each state agency shall, by rule, establish
and implement a system of indexing for the identification and location of the
(a) All records issued before July 1, 1990, for which the agency has maintained an index;
(b) Final orders entered after June 30, 1990, that are issued in adjudicative proceedings as defined in RCW 34.05.010(1) and that contain an analysis or decision of substantial importance to the agency in carrying out its duties;
(c) Declaratory orders entered after June 30, 1990, that are issued pursuant to RCW 34.05.240 and that contain an analysis or decision of substantial importance to the agency in carrying out its duties;
(d) Interpretive statements as defined in RCW 34.05.010(8) that were entered after June 30, 1990; and
(e) Policy statements as defined in RCW 34.05.010(14) that were entered after June 30, 1990.
Rules establishing systems of indexing shall include, but not be limited to, requirements for the form and content of the index, its location and availability to the public, and the schedule for revising or updating the index. State agencies that have maintained indexes for records issued before July 1, 1990, shall continue to make such indexes available for public inspection and copying. Information in such indexes may be incorporated into indexes prepared pursuant to this subsection. State agencies may satisfy the requirements of this subsection by making available to the public indexes prepared by other parties but actually used by the agency in its operations. State agencies shall make indexes available for public inspection and copying. State agencies may charge a fee to cover the actual costs of providing individual mailed copies of indexes.
(6) A public record may be relied on, used, or cited as precedent by an
agency against a party other than an agency and it may be invoked by the agency
for any other purpose only if‑-
(a) It has been indexed in an index available to the public; or
(b) Parties affected have timely notice (actual or constructive) of the terms thereof.
(7) This chapter shall not be construed as giving authority to any
agency to give, sell or provide access to lists of individuals requested for
commercial purposes, and agencies shall not do so unless specifically
authorized or directed by law: PROVIDED, HOWEVER, That lists of applicants for
professional licenses and of professional licensees shall be made available to
those professional associations or educational organizations recognized by
their professional licensing or examination board, upon payment of a reasonable
charge therefor: PROVIDED FURTHER, That such recognition may be refused only
for a good cause pursuant to a hearing under the provisions of chapter 34.05
RCW, the Administrative Procedure Act.
Sec. 4. RCW 42.17.290 and 1975 1st ex.s. c 294 s 16 are each amended to read as follows:
Agencies shall adopt and enforce reasonable rules and regulations, consonant with the intent of this chapter to provide full public access to public records, to protect public records from damage or disorganization, and to prevent excessive interference with other essential functions of the agency. Such rules and regulations shall provide for the fullest assistance to inquirers and the most timely possible action on requests for information. Nothing in this section shall relieve agencies from honoring requests received by mail for copies of identifiable public records.
If a public record request is made at a time when such record exists but is scheduled for destruction in the near future, the agency shall retain possession of the record, and may not destroy or erase the record until the request is resolved.
Sec. 5. RCW 42.17.310 and 1991 c 301 s 13, 1991 c 87 s 13, and 1991 c 23 s 10 are each reenacted and amended to read as follows:
(1) The following are exempt from public inspection and copying:
(a) Personal information in any files maintained for students in public schools, patients or clients of public institutions or public health agencies, or welfare recipients.
(b) Personal information in files maintained for employees, appointees, or elected officials of any public agency to the extent that disclosure would violate their right to privacy.
(c) Information required of any taxpayer in connection with the assessment or collection of any tax if the disclosure of the information to other persons would (i) be prohibited to such persons by RCW 82.32.330 or (ii) violate the taxpayer's right to privacy or result in unfair competitive disadvantage to the taxpayer.
(d) Specific intelligence information and specific investigative records compiled by investigative, law enforcement, and penology agencies, and state agencies vested with the responsibility to discipline members of any profession, the nondisclosure of which is essential to effective law enforcement or for the protection of any person's right to privacy.
Information revealing the identity of persons who are witnesses to or
victims of crime or who file complaints with investigative, law enforcement,
or penology agencies, other than the public disclosure commission, if
disclosure would endanger any person's life, physical safety, or property. If
at the time ((
the)) a complaint is filed the complainant,
victim or witness indicates a desire for disclosure or nondisclosure, such
desire shall govern. However, all complaints filed with the public disclosure
commission about any elected official or candidate for public office must be
made in writing and signed by the complainant under oath.
(f) Test questions, scoring keys, and other examination data used to administer a license, employment, or academic examination.
(g) Except as provided by chapter 8.26 RCW, the contents of real estate appraisals, made for or by any agency relative to the acquisition or sale of property, until the project or prospective sale is abandoned or until such time as all of the property has been acquired or the property to which the sale appraisal relates is sold, but in no event shall disclosure be denied for more than three years after the appraisal.
(h) Valuable formulae, designs, drawings, and research data obtained by any agency within five years of the request for disclosure when disclosure would produce private gain and public loss.
(i) Preliminary drafts, notes, recommendations, and intra-agency memorandums in which opinions are expressed or policies formulated or recommended except that a specific record shall not be exempt when publicly cited by an agency in connection with any agency action.
(j) Records which are relevant to a controversy to which an agency is a party but which records would not be available to another party under the rules of pretrial discovery for causes pending in the superior courts.
(k) Records, maps, or other information identifying the location of archaeological sites in order to avoid the looting or depredation of such sites.
(l) Any library record, the primary purpose of which is to maintain control of library materials, or to gain access to information, which discloses or could be used to disclose the identity of a library user.
(m) Financial information supplied by or on behalf of a person, firm, or corporation for the purpose of qualifying to submit a bid or proposal for (a) a ferry system construction or repair contract as required by RCW 47.60.680 through 47.60.750 or (b) highway construction or improvement as required by RCW 47.28.070.
(n) Railroad company contracts filed prior to July 28, 1991, with the utilities and transportation commission under RCW 81.34.070, except that the summaries of the contracts are open to public inspection and copying as otherwise provided by this chapter.
(o) Financial and commercial information and records supplied by private persons pertaining to export services provided pursuant to chapter 43.163 RCW and chapter 53.31 RCW.
(p) Financial disclosures filed by private vocational schools under chapter 28C.10 RCW.
(q) Records filed with the utilities and transportation commission or attorney general under RCW 80.04.095 that a court has determined are confidential under RCW 80.04.095.
(r) Financial and commercial information and records supplied by businesses during application for loans or program services provided by chapter 43.163 RCW and chapters 43.31, 43.63A, and 43.168 RCW.
(s) Membership lists or lists of members or owners of interests of units in timeshare projects, subdivisions, camping resorts, condominiums, land developments, or common-interest communities affiliated with such projects, regulated by the department of licensing, in the files or possession of the department.
(t) All applications for public employment, including the names of applicants, resumes, and other related materials submitted with respect to an applicant.
(u) The residential addresses and residential telephone numbers of employees or volunteers of a public agency which are held by the agency in personnel records, employment or volunteer rosters, or mailing lists of employees or volunteers.
(v) The residential addresses and residential telephone numbers of the customers of a public utility contained in the records or lists held by the public utility of which they are customers.
(w) Information obtained by the board of pharmacy as provided in RCW 69.45.090.
(x) Information obtained by the board of pharmacy or the department of health and its representatives as provided in RCW 69.41.044, 69.41.280, and 18.64.420.
(y) Financial information, business plans, examination reports, and any information produced or obtained in evaluating or examining a business and industrial development corporation organized or seeking certification under chapter 31.24 RCW.
(z) Financial and commercial information supplied to the state investment board by any person when the information relates to the investment of public trust or retirement funds and when disclosure would result in loss to such funds or in private loss to the providers of this information.
(aa) Financial and valuable trade information under RCW 51.36.120.
(bb) Client records maintained by an agency that is a domestic violence program as defined in RCW 70.123.020 or a rape crisis center as defined in RCW 70.125.030.
(cc) Information that identifies a person who, while an agency employee: (i) Seeks advice, under an informal process established by the employing agency, in order to ascertain his or her rights in connection with a possible unfair practice under chapter 49.60 RCW against the person; and (ii) requests his or her identity or any identifying information not be disclosed.
(2) Except for information described in subsection (1)(c)(i) of this section and confidential income data exempted from public inspection pursuant to RCW 84.40.020, the exemptions of this section are inapplicable to the extent that information, the disclosure of which would violate personal privacy or vital governmental interests, can be deleted from the specific records sought. No exemption may be construed to permit the nondisclosure of statistical information not descriptive of any readily identifiable person or persons.
(3) Inspection or copying of any specific records exempt under the provisions of this section may be permitted if the superior court in the county in which the record is maintained finds, after a hearing with notice thereof to every person in interest and the agency, that the exemption of such records is clearly unnecessary to protect any individual's right of privacy or any vital governmental function.
(4) Agency responses refusing, in whole or in part, inspection of any public record shall include a statement of the specific exemption authorizing the withholding of the record (or part) and a brief explanation of how the exemption applies to the record withheld.
Sec. 6. RCW 42.17.320 and 1975 1st ex.s. c 294 s 18 are each amended to read as follows:
Responses to requests for public records shall be made promptly by agencies. Within five business days of receiving a public record request, an agency must respond by either (1) providing the record; (2) acknowledging that the agency has received the request and providing a reasonable estimate of the time the agency will require to respond to the request; or (3) denying the public record request. Additional time required to respond to a request may be based upon the need to clarify the intent of the request, to locate and assemble the information requested, to notify third persons or agencies affected by the request, or to determine whether any of the information requested is exempt and that a denial should be made as to all or part of the request. In acknowledging receipt of a public record request that is unclear, an agency may ask the requestor to clarify what information the requestor is seeking. If the requestor fails to clarify the request, the agency need not respond to it. Denials of requests must be accompanied by a written statement of the specific reasons therefor. Agencies shall establish mechanisms for the most prompt possible review of decisions denying inspection, and such review shall be deemed completed at the end of the second business day following the denial of inspection and shall constitute final agency action for the purposes of judicial review.
Sec. 7. RCW 42.17.330 and 1975 1st ex.s. c 294 s 19 are each amended to read as follows:
The examination of any specific public record may be enjoined if, upon motion and affidavit by an agency or its representative or a person who is named in the record or to whom the record specifically pertains, the superior court for the county in which the movant resides or in which the record is maintained, finds that such examination would clearly not be in the public interest and would substantially and irreparably damage any person, or would substantially and irreparably damage vital governmental functions. An agency has the option of notifying persons named in the record or to whom a record specifically pertains, that release of a record has been requested. However, this option does not exist where the agency is required by law to provide such notice.
Sec. 8. RCW 42.17.340 and 1987 c 403 s 5 are each amended to read as follows:
(1) Upon the motion of any person having been denied an opportunity to inspect or copy a public record by an agency, the superior court in the county in which a record is maintained may require the responsible agency to show cause why it has refused to allow inspection or copying of a specific public record or class of records. The burden of proof shall be on the agency to establish that refusal to permit public inspection and copying is in accordance with a statute that exempts or prohibits disclosure in whole or in part of specific information or records.
(2) Upon the motion of any person who believes that an agency has not made a reasonable estimate of the time that the agency requires to respond to a public record request, the superior court in the county in which a record is maintained may require the responsible agency to show that the estimate it provided is reasonable. The burden of proof shall be on the agency to show that the estimate it provided is reasonable.
(3) Judicial review of all agency actions taken or challenged under RCW 42.17.250 through 42.17.320 shall be de novo. Courts shall take into account the policy of this chapter that free and open examination of public records is in the public interest, even though such examination may cause inconvenience or embarrassment to public officials or others. Courts may examine any record in camera in any proceeding brought under this section. The court may conduct a hearing based solely on affidavits.
(4) Any person who prevails against an agency in any action in the
courts seeking the right to inspect or copy any public record or the right
to receive a response to a public record request within a reasonable amount of
time shall be awarded all costs, including reasonable attorney fees,
incurred in connection with such legal action. In addition, it shall be within
the discretion of the court to award such person an amount not less than
five dollars and not to exceed (( twenty-five)) one hundred
dollars for each day that he was denied the right to inspect or copy said
NEW SECTION. Sec. 9. A new section is added to chapter 42.17 RCW under the subchapter heading "public records" to read as follows:
The attorney general's office shall publish, and update when appropriate, a pamphlet, written in plain language, explaining the provisions of the public records subdivision of this chapter.
NEW SECTION. Sec. 10. A new section is added to chapter 42.17 RCW under the subchapter heading "public records" to read as follows:
Whenever a state agency concludes that a public record is exempt from disclosure and denies a person opportunity to inspect or copy a public record for that reason, the person may request the attorney general to review the matter. The attorney general shall provide the person with his or her written opinion on whether the record is exempt.
Nothing in this section shall be deemed to establish an attorney-client relationship between the attorney general and a person making a request under this section.
NEW SECTION. Sec. 11. A new section is added to chapter 42.17 RCW under the subchapter heading "public records" to read as follows:
No public agency, public official, public employee, or custodian shall be liable, nor shall a cause of action exist, for any loss or damage based upon the release of a public record if the public agency, public official, public employee, or custodian acted in good faith in attempting to comply with the provisions of this chapter.
NEW SECTION. Sec. 12. The legislature finds that electronic data and electronic records pose a number of challenging public disclosure questions. Included in these challenging questions are how to provide public access to electronic records while balancing personal privacy and vital governmental interests; how to best address requests for electronic records which require agencies to manipulate data; how to open electronic records to public inspection; how to calculate charges for data or products from electronic records, particularly if that data or product is to be used for a commercial purpose; and how public agencies and employees should handle the personal privacy issues associated with electronic mail.
The legislature finds that there is a large and growing number of exemptions of records from public disclosure. The legislature finds that certain types of information are treated inconsistently under current disclosure laws. The legislature further finds that there may be opportunities for consolidation of many individual record exemptions into fewer, broader exemptions. There is a need to thoroughly review both the content and organization of such exemptions.
The legislature recognizes that there is legal uncertainty regarding the status of investigative records under the open records law. It is important that clear statutory direction be provided in this area to ensure reasonable access to such records while protecting the integrity of the investigatory process and privacy interests.
The legislature also finds that certain entities that may have substantial impacts on public policy are not covered by the open public meetings act. Such entities include certain boards, councils, committees, or other groups of similar nomenclature that serve in an advisory capacity. To ensure that public agencies comply with the intent of the open public meetings act, it is important for the legislature to determine which categories of such groups should be covered by the open public meetings act.
The legislature shall investigate special meetings and notice procedures, emergency meetings, executive sessions and matters that may be properly addressed in an executive session, publication of and provision to the public a regular meeting agenda, and penalties related to failure to comply with open meeting violations.
Finally, while the open public meetings act authorizes agencies to use closed executive sessions to consider certain matters specified in the act, agencies when in closed executive session are required to restrict their consideration to those matters. The act's provisions may need to be amended to prevent or deter public agencies from considering matters in closed executive session that they are not entitled to consider.
The joint select committee on open government shall examine these five issues and shall report back to the legislature with any recommendations for statutory changes by January 1, 1993. In examining these issues, the committee shall provide ample opportunity for input from all interested parties.