A new Senate bill that seeks to open more legislative records to the public is a backward step for transparent government, said Sen. Mark Miloscia, the ranking Republican on the Senate State Government, Tribal Relations and Elections Committee.
Miloscia stated his opposition to Senate Bill 6617, which was introduced this week and was the subject of a joint work session Thursday afternoon by the Senate state government panel and the House State Government, Elections and Information Technology Committee. The Senate is expected to vote on the proposal Friday.
“Under this bill, we would have one set of disclosure rules for the state’s executive branch and for local governments, but different rules for the legislative branch,” said Miloscia, R-Federal Way. “The level of transparency must be the same for all branches and levels of government, with no exceptions. I cannot support this bill.”
Earlier this session Miloscia introduced Senate Bill 6139, which 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. Citizens should 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.”
Under Miloscia’s proposal, state legislative and judicial records created after his bill becomes law would be considered open to the public. It received a public hearing but was not passed by the Senate State Government, Tribal Relations and Elections Committee this session.