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Status of Bills Related to Open GovernmentAs of April 29, 2013 - End of 2013 Regular Session
Here’s the WCOG Bill Status Report as of the end of the 2013 regular legislative session. Of the 31 bills WCOG considered to be “high priority” during this session, only one bill passed the legislature – SB 5256, which, as passed, allows medical examiners and coroners to publicly discuss their findings regarding deaths that occur in jail or police custody after completion of any investigation (much weaker than the original bill). All the other 30 bills died, including most recently HB 1651 (sealing most juvenile court records) and HB 1298 (which in its final form would have eliminated the Sunshine Committee).
Of the total of 80 bills we’ve been tracking, the following 15 passed the legislature and have either already been signed by the Governor or are awaiting his signature:
HB 1035 (link) - Addressing title insurance rate filings – Creates a new exemption for title insurance rate filing information obtained by the Insurance Commissioner.
HB 1203 (link) - Exempting personal information relating to children from public inspection and copying – Creates a new exemption for records of children enrolled in licensed child care, maintained in files held by the Department of Early Learning (in addition to publicly-run child care programs).
HB 1568 (link) - Concerning the business licensing service program administered by the department of revenue – Makes it illegal, under RCW 42.56.070(9), for the Department of Revenue to release lists of individuals who hold trade names, if requested for commercial purposes.
HB 1576 (link) - Creating greater efficiency in the offices of county assessors by allowing notification via electronic means – Creates a new exemption for information supplied by a person or company receiving assessment notices electronically, including email addresses and passwords.
HB 1609 (link) – Renaming the board of pharmacy – Renames the “Board of Pharmacy” to the “Pharmacy Quality Assurance Commission”, including amending the name where used in the Public Records Act (technical change only).
HB 1612 (link) - Concerning information on felony firearm offenders – Creates a new exemption for the new central registry of felony firearm offenders.
SB 5135 (link) - Concerning judicial proceedings and forms – Amends several sections related to judicial proceedings and forms, including parentage proceedings. Allows access to final rulings determining parentage and any subsequent filings in the same case.
SB 5256 (link) - Concerning the confidentiality of certain autopsy and postmortem reports and records– The original bill allowed autopsy reports of deaths that occur in police custody or in jail to be immediately released. The final text backtracked on that, and allows medical examiners and coroners to discuss their findings only after any investigation is completed; it retains existing restrictions on distribution of autopsy reports.
SB 5329 (link) – Transforming persistently failing schools – The original bill created a broad exemption for records related to failing schools placed under control of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, but this was amended out during the legislative process. The final bill does not impact on open government.
SB 5434 (link) - Addressing the filing and public disclosure of health care provider compensation – Creates a new exemption for health care provider compensation agreements filed with the Insurance Commissioner.
SB 5510 (link) - Concerning the abuse of vulnerable adults – Prohibits secondary disclosure by investigative agencies who receive records of abuse, abandonment, neglect, self-neglect, and financial exploitation of vulnerable adults. Records of professional review boards, quality assurance committees, and quality improvement programs do not have to be provided to DSHS or law enforcement during an investigation even if they relate to the victim of abuse.
SB 5577 (link) - Protecting public employees who act ethically and legally (Carrell) – Provides whistleblower protections to state employees who file ethics complaints against other state employees. Creates a new exemption for the identity of employees filing such complaints in good faith.
SB 5591 (link) - Concerning confidential license plates, drivers' licenses, identicards, and vessel registrations – Creates new exemptions for records related to vessel registration, licenses plates, driver licenses, and identicards issued by Department of Licensing to law enforcement agencies for law enforcement purposes such as undercover or covert activities.
SB 5666 (link) - Concerning health care quality improvement measures – Expands existing exemptions for records associated with hospital quality improvement programs, to include records of granting or reviewing a health care provider’s credentials or privileges. Allows review of medical staff privileges to include review of professional conduct. Allows multiple quality improvement committees to cover different areas of practice. Expands background checks for medical staff.
SB 5810 (link) – Concerning security threat group information – Creates a new exemption for the contents of a security threat group database to be created by the Department of Corrections to track criminal gang activities in prisons.
Just in case you’re counting, that’s a total of about nine new PRA exemptions created this session. And there’s one or more special sessions in our future! We will need to continue to be vigilant to ensure no additional weakening of open government laws is introduced during the special session(s).
Once again, we held back the most onerous bills, including HB 1128 (injunctions to block “harassing” requesters), HB 1651(sealing of most juvenile court records), HB 1037 (charging for records for commercial use), HB 1019 (requiring requesters to provide identification), HB 1449/SB 5436 (exemption for Victim Impact Statements and Special Sex Offender Sentencing Alternative reports), HB 1497/SB 5341 (automatic sealing of all non-conviction records), HB 1697 (exemption for WUTC records that could show cross-subsidization of unregulated affiliates by monopoly trash haulers), and SB 5847 (prohibiting collision reports from being used in litigation). Unfortunately, none of the bills we advocated for in our Legislative Priorities passed, either. But a session in which we kill all the bad bills is a great session!
It remains to be seen if our requests to preserve or restore funding for the State Archives, superior and appellate courts, and the Open Government Ombudsman will be included in the forthcoming budget. We hope you will contact your legislators once again and ask them to support these budget provisions.
Thanks again for all your hard work this session!
President, Washington Coalition for Open Government
Open Government Bills 2013-2014 14Apr2013.pdf
Open Government Bills 2013-2014 4Apr2013.pdf
Open Government Bills 2013-2014 25Mar2013.pdf
Open Government Bills 2013-2014 13Mar2013.pdf
Open Government Bills 2013-2014 3Mar2013.pdf
Open Government Bills 2013-2014 24Feb2013.pdf
Open Government Bills 2013-2014 17Feb2013.pdf
Open Government Bills 2013-2014 10Feb2013.pdf
Open Government Bills 2013.pdf
Open Government Bills 2012.pdf
Open Government Bills 2011.pdf
Open Government Bills 2010.pdf
Open Government Bills 2009.pdf
Open Government Bills 2007-2008.pdf