Columbian: Legislators must regain public confidence by emphasizing transparency
When Washington's Legislature convenes Jan. 14, attention will be focused on the state Senate's unique majority coalition caucus, created when two Democrats agreed to support Republican leaders, who in turn appointed committee chairs equally from the two parties. In the House, where Democrats will remain in control, most news stories will focus on yet another budget deficit and how smoothly state representatives can work with the strange new power scheme in the Senate. Already, abundant analyses have explored what exciting decisions may or may not transpire this year in Olympia. Unfortunately, far too little attention has been focused on the public's right to know. For the sake of voters who hired them and constituents for whom they work, wise legislators will correct this attention deficit and make sure transparency becomes a hallmark of this year's session . . .
Last year, The Columbian supported three WPC recommendations: Require 72 hours' public notice before public hearings on bills. Prohibit title-only bills. And hold no votes on bills until they're available to the public for 24 hours. This year, we repeat that support. If legislators are as excited about serving the public as they appear to be about their groundbreaking collaborative potential, they will quickly enact and enforce all three rules.
What better way for legislators to kick off the New Year than by ensuring the people have a seat at the table as laws are being drafted and debated?
Here are some of the previous editorials from across the state on the need for legislative transparency reform:
- News Tribune: State government clings to double standard
- Olympian: Quest for open government is noble cause in this state