Miloscia bill would expand public access to legislative and judicial records

Far more records produced by Washington’s Legislature and the state Supreme Court could be made available to the public under a bill that Sen. Mark Miloscia, R-Federal Way, introduced on Monday.

Miloscia’s bill aims to expand the definition of legislative and judicial records so that all records produced by the Legislature and the state’s judicial branch would be treated in a similar manner to public records created by statewide executive offices and state agencies.

“The public has a right to know what its state government is doing, and a key way to know is through access to records,” Miloscia said. “Until now, most legislative and judicial records have been exempt from public records laws and thus unavailable for the public to see. I think it’s important that citizens have the same access to legislative and judicial records as they do records created by any of our statewide executive offices or state agencies, especially since the Legislature and Supreme Court play such instrumental roles in passing or interpreting state laws.

“It’s time for the Legislature and Supreme Court to be as open with their records as the rest of our state government,” added Miloscia, the ranking Republican on the Senate State Government, Tribal Relations and Elections Committee.

Under Miloscia’s proposal, which will receive a bill number on Tuesday, state legislative and judicial records created after his bill becomes law would be considered open to the public.

The measure calls for the secretary of the Senate and the chief clerk of the House of Representatives to be the appointed public records officers for requests made to the Senate or House, including each legislative office in either chamber. The Supreme Court clerk would appoint public records officers for each division of the court system for records requests made to the Supreme Court.

Miloscia expects his bill to be referred to the Senate State Government, Tribal Relations and Elections Committee.