What a difference a week makes. Last Friday we reported that state legislators — including all lawmakers from the Ballard area except for Sen. Reuven Carlyle — quickly voted to exempt themselves from the Public Records Act. The move was met with widespread criticism and rare front page editorials in newspapers across the state.
Last night, Democrats in the state House of Representatives wrote Gov. Jay Inslee a letter explaining they “made a mistake by failing to go through a full hearing process.” They urged the governor to veto the bill (SB 6617) and start over. The bill was signed by Ballard and Fremont-area lawmakers, Reps. Tarleton, Frame, Pollet and Valdez. Senate Democrats wrote a similar letter.
“Thanks to extensive communications with my constituents, I came to realize that although this bill was crafted with good intent, its expedited passage was antithetical to the very principles of good governance that I hoped it would preserve,” wrote Ballard-area Rep. Gael Tarleton in a statement emailed to My Ballard. “My colleagues and I invite the public to take an extensive role in the creation of new legislation to provide transparency and oversight at the Legislature.”
Once he had assurance lawmakers would not vote to override his veto, Governor Inslee promptly vetoed the bill last night.
“The public’s right to government information is one we hold dearly in Washington,” the governor wrote in a statement. “Transparency is a cornerstone of a democratic government, and I’m very proud of my administration’s record on public disclosure. I believe legislators will find they can fulfill their duties while being fully transparent, just like state and local governments all across Washington.”