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Friday, May 6, 2011

Armageddon Averted: Public Records Act Penalties Now As Low As $0

(Pardon the sarcasm, but some things are so absurd that there is no other way to communicate them.)

A financial melt down of state and local government has been averted.

The local government lobby and Attorney General Rob McKenna finally got what they said would prevent the world from ending: a possible $0 Public Records Act daily penalty instead of the whopping $5 daily penalty usually assessed against them. No more defaulting on municipal bonds as a result of public records penalties. Whew.

HB 1899 was signed into law by Gov. Gregoire, another staunch supporter of open government. Here is the Seattle Times story on it. And a Bellingham Herald piece on it.

Now the government lobby should no longer have any reason to complain about the Public Records Act destroying civilization.

By the way, HB 1899 passed out of the House without a hearing on its merits. More excellent law making. Here is what Jason Mercier from the Washington Policy Center had to say about it, with a hat tip to the Center for Justice:

For the rest of the story on HB 1899:

As the executive session ended, the Committee’s chairman, Democrat Sam Hunt from Thurston County, appeared confused. After a long pause in which he conferred with a staff person, Hunt apologetically announced: “House bill 1899 has not had a hearing, so if somebody wants to testify on 1899, you will get the option to do it in a backwards fashion, after we voted the bill out of committee and if one convinces us, we can always reconsider and re-vote on it. Sorry about that.”

Here is the TVW of the exchange:

Starts at 56:20 with staff informing him they didn’t hold a hearing before passing.