Open Government

WPC's Center for Government Reform's mission is to partner with stakeholders and citizens to work toward a government focused on its core functions while improving its transparency, accountability, performance, and effectiveness for taxpayers.

What's New

Governor signs I-960 bill without vetoing advisory vote repeal

February 24, 2010 in Blog

Governor Gregoire signed SB 6130 as adopted by the Legislature. There was some question as to whether the Governor would veto the 2-year repeal of the non-binding advisory votes.

She said that she delayed the bill signing today to consider the requests to veto that section of the bill.

As a result of today's action the Washington Policy Center will be publishing an I-960 voter's pamphlet.

Comparison of House and Senate budgets

February 24, 2010 in Blog

The following information is courtesy of the state's budget transparency website (fiscal.wa.gov). The House budget decreases near general fund spending by $322 million while increasing total spending by $1.5 billion. The Senate budget decreases near general fund spending by $141 million while increasing total spending by $1.8 billion. Details below:

 
House

style="text-align: center;">Senate

Housevsenate

New taxes not needed to protect Puget Sound

February 24, 2010 in In the News
The Snohomish Times
Source: 
The Snohomish Times
Date: 
Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Senate tax bills available

February 23, 2010 in Blog

Here are the tax bills mentioned at today's Senate budget press conference:

Of note from the proposals:

  • The business exemptions repeal bill is 133 pages.
  • The sales tax increase would expire on June 30, 2013.
  • Both SB 6874 and SB 6875 would make permanent changes to the state's spending limit by exempting the deposits into and appropriations from the "dedicated" accounts from the spending limit calculation.

Additional information on the Senate tax increases available here.

Senate targets business tax exemptions and sales tax increase

February 23, 2010 in Blog

The Senate Democrats released their budget blueprint this morning. We'll have additional analysis on the specifics after we've had time to read the proposal but in the meantime here are details on the tax increases being proposed:

Senatetaxes

Here are the details on the tax exemptions being closed:

Taxexemption

Additional information available here.

Senate puts breaks on tax initiative

February 23, 2010 in In the News
The Olympian
Source: 
The Olympian
Date: 
Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Senate Dems say hike sales tax, close loopholes

February 23, 2010 in In the News
The Herald (Everett)
Source: 
The Herald (Everett)
Date: 
Tuesday, February 23, 2010

How are Kirkland Legislators voting in the 2010 session?

February 23, 2010 in In the News
Kirkland Reporter
Source: 
Kirkland Reporter
Date: 
Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Senate Democrats Propose Sales Tax Hike to Balance Budget (video)

February 23, 2010 in In the News
KEPR TV (Tri-Cities)
Source: 
KEPR TV (Tri-Cities)
Date: 
Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Constitutional Sunshine

February 22, 2010 in Blog

With National Sunshine Week (March 14-20) less than a month away, it's not too early to think about the reforms needed to make the legislative process more transparent.

Whether it's the failure to implement a reasonable budget review period, holding hearings on "ghost bills," or carving out a special legislative exemption from the state's public reco!
rds act, it is clear that constitutional transparency protections are needed for citizens.

The Catch-22 of course, any constitutional reform must originate in the Legislature. Despite this obstacle, here are some suggested constitutional transparency protections to help make Washington the legislative sunshine state:

  • Add the preamble of the state's public records act to Article 1. This would help re-enforce this transparency intent for any wayward court. The preamble reads:
"The people of this state do not yield their sovereignty to the agencies that serve them. The people, in delegating authority, do not give their public servants the right to decide what is good for the people to know and what is not good for them to know. The people insist on remaining informed so that they may maintain control over the instruments that they have created. This chapter shall be liberally construed and its exemptions narrowly construed to promote this public policy and to assure that the public interest will be fully protected. In the event of conflict between the provisions of this chapter and any other act, the provisions of this chapter shall govern."
  • Add a new section to Article 2 which would require 72-hour public notification before any bill could receive a public hearing. While the requirement currently exists in legislative rules, it is often waived.
  • Amend Article 2, Section 19 to prohibit title only bills. No public hearing or vote should occur on a "ghost bill."
  • Amend Article 2, Section 22 to prohibit votes on final passage until the final version of the bill to be approved has been publicly available for 24-hours. 

These type of constitutional sunshine protections would not be unique to Washington if enacted. Florida's Constitution (Article 3, Section 19) requires a 72-hour public review period for appropriations bills before they can be voted on. Hawaii's Constitution (Article 3, Section 15) requires a 48-hour review period before any bill can be voted on for final passage.

While Washington may not come up in the same sentence with Florida and Hawaii when it comes to sunshine, we could take the lead when it comes to constitutional sunshine protections for citizens.