Dear Gov. Inslee,
On Friday, the Washington Legislature sent you a bad bill, passed a bad way, and based on bad reasoning.
We urge you to veto SB 6617. It is a brazen attempt to shield legislators from the legal responsibility to release the same information that your office, and other regional and local government bodies across Washington, are required to provide.
SB 6617 is an attempt to circumvent a court decision making state legislators’ individual offices subject to the Public Records Act, which other state and local agencies have been required to obey since voters approved the law in 1972.
Lawmakers passed SB 6617 in two days, without debate. They made it impossible to challenge the bill itself in court, and they added an emergency clause which would allow it to take immediate effect with your signature — a signature it should not receive.
To sign this bill into law would undercut voters’ trust in their elected leaders and lead them to question their moral integrity. It would send a message that the governor’s office does not consider the politically powerful subject to the same laws as all other government agencies and officials. And even if this were a bill with entirely good intentions and good effects, ramming it through without deliberation would still be unseemly.
To veto SB 6617 is not a wasted gesture. Its supporters have assembled a majority that could override you by taking another vote, but that will not be the end of the matter. All state House seats and half the Senate seats are up for re-election this year and could be held accountable for passage of SB 6617. And voters can submit an initiative to amend the 1972 Open Records Act and make it fully applicable to the Legislature. And we hope that public scrutiny will make legislators think twice about voting to override your veto.
The Daily News