Jmercier

Sunshine Week legislative update

March 17, 2014 in Blog

This Sunshine Week forecast is brought to you by the 2014 Legislative Session: Your right to know is partly cloudy. When the just concluded session began there was the opportunity for brilliant sunshine but at least we avoided any severe secret storm warnings. 

Below is a look back on some of the open government actions (or lack thereof) during the 2014 Legislative Session.

Public notice

Funding for TVW repairs and upgrades cut from capital budget

March 5, 2014 in Blog

In just a few weeks the country will be celebrating "Sunshine Week," a time committed to celebrating the people's right to know about what their government is doing. Recent developments in Olympia, however, may put a damper on those celebrations.

Providing opportunity for remote testimony and improving public notice

March 3, 2014 in Blog

At the invitation of Rep. Pollet and Rep. Hawkins (Co-Chairs) I had the opportunity to make a presentation before the House Open Government Caucus today on ways the Legislature could accommodate remote testimony and improve its public notice process.

10:45 p.m. "public" hearing with no public testimony, surprised?

February 14, 2014 in Blog

Lawmakers work long hours on your behalf, sometimes late into the night. One of these instances occurred on Monday when lawmakers held a public hearing at 10:45 p.m. on HB 2244.

Pension reforms on Senate floor

February 13, 2014 in Blog

As we approach the February 18 House of Origin cutoff, bills are starting to fly off the floor of the House and the Senate. Two pension reform bills in the Senate could soon be among those moving. SB 5851 and SB 6305 are both currently on the floor.

Time for Legislature to live by open government rules

February 10, 2014 in Blog

With policy cutoff behind us the list of living and walking dead bills (nothing is really dead till sine die) is being compiled. Among the proposals that didn't even receive a hearing, however, is a bill based on WPC's recommendation for the Legislature to truly provide Washingtonians the opportunity to participate in the legislative debate while also ensuring lawmakers live by the same open government rules the rest of the state's public officials operate under.

Senate rejects supermajority for taxes constitutional amendment

February 5, 2014 in Blog

The Senate voted today to reject SJR 8213: Amending the Constitution to require a two-thirds majority vote of the legislature to raise taxes. The proposal failed to receive the votes necessary for passage with a 25-21 vote (33 votes were needed).

Governor/Speaker receive open government awards

January 30, 2014 in Blog

Governor Inslee and Speaker Chopp received awards from the Washington Coalition for Open Government this week (WPC serves on the WCOG board). Inslee received the Key Award for his pledge not to use executive privilege to deny public records requests.

Will voters get sixth shot at supermajority for taxes?

January 27, 2014 in Blog

How would you define the undisputed will of voters? Is it passing in every county of the state? Is it passing in 44 of the state's 49 legislative districts (90%)?

Exploring Social Impact Bonds

January 24, 2014 in Blog

As budget writers continue to face growing demands for increased spending with limited resources, alternative ways of delivering services are being explored. One potential option worthy of consideration are "Social Impact Bonds," or pay-for-performance contracts with non-profits/private businesses to help deliver certain social programs.

Legislature focuses on open government reforms

January 22, 2014 in Blog

The people's right to know has received a serious shot in the arm this session with numerous open government bills under consideration. The Attorney General's proposals to require training of government officials have already received executive action in the House and public hearings in the Senate. Several bills have also been introduced to make more budget related information available online.

Brian Sonntag releases Seattle pension study

January 22, 2014 in Blog

Former State Auditor Brian Sonntag released a study today highlighting the need for pension reform in Seattle. Sonntag worked on the study at the request of the Washington Policy Center.

Senate Ways & Means to act on revenue forecast reform

January 15, 2014 in Blog

The Senate Ways and Means Committee held a public hearing yesterday on SB 5910: Providing that a quarterly revenue forecast is due on February 20th during both a long and short legislative session year. The committee is scheduled to take executive action on the bill later today. The proposal passed the Senate unanimously twice last year (April 28 and June 23) but was not acted on by the House.

Anatomy of a budget gimmick

January 8, 2014 in Blog

When the Governor announced his first full budget proposal (his 2013-15 proposal was an outline) on December 17 releasing his recommended 2014 supplemental budget, I was very curious to see how it would comply with the state's spending limit. After careful review, it looks like it doesn't.

Missing public records and "harassing requesters"

January 6, 2014 in Blog

During the heat of the debate last year on HB 1128 and whether or not government entities should be able to sue citizens to keep from disclosing public records, the Washington Coalition for Open Government (WCOG) sent out a public records request to determine the extent of any problem facing local governments concerning compliance with the people's right to know.