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Monday, January 28, 2008

Seattle Times Editorial on Public Records Insurance Bill

The Seattle Times editorializes about Rep. Brendan Williams' bill to prohibit municipal insurance companies from dictating agencies' public-records decisions and from insuring against public records and open public meetings violations. Says the Times:

"Last week, Seattle Times reporter Lynn Thompson wrote about the Washington Cities Insurance Authority's threat to terminate the city of Monroe's liability insurance. The city's crime? Its council members were trying to provide citizens with easier access to its public records, even waiving attorney-client privilege to release records their attorney agreed would not cause them legal problems. But now the city has backed off under WCIA's appallingly heavy-handed tactics — which is just the latest assault on the public's right to know. ...

"The day after The Times' story ran, Rep. Brendan Williams, D-Olympia, introduced House Bill 3251, which would amend the law that created the WCIA. The proposal would prohibit the insurance pool from dictating public-records practices and cities from using insurance money to defend public-records violations.

"Williams' quick response is laudable, and the Legislature should embrace this solution."

Here is the text of HB 3251 and background information.