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Lawmaker Emails, Calendars Would Be Released Under Republican Proposal

Washington state Rep. Paul Graves plans to introduce the Legislative Transparency Act ahead of the 2018 legislative session.
Washington Legislature
Washington state Rep. Paul Graves plans to introduce the Legislative Transparency Act ahead of the 2018 legislative session.

Washington state Rep. Paul Graves is proposing to end the cloak of secrecy around legislative emails, calendars and other records. The move comes as media outlets, including public radio, have sued the Legislature over public records.

The Republican from Fall City said he will introduce the Legislative Transparency Act ahead of the 2018 legislative session. The proposed law would make clear that lawmaker records like emails, text messages and calendars are subject to disclosure.

“We’re government employees, we’re being paid by taxes and the people of the state deserve to know and have access to the information that their tax dollars are paying for,” Graves said.

Graves argues lawmaker records are currently exempt from disclosure because of a 1995 amendment to the Public Records Act. His proposed bill would remove that language.

Democratic state Rep. Gerry Pollet said he plans to introduce similar legislation.

Public radio is part of a coalition of media outlets led by the Associated Press that filed a lawsuit in September challenging the legislative exemption. 

Copyright 2017 Northwest News Network

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy as well as the Washington State legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia." Prior to joining the Northwest News Network, Austin worked as a television reporter in Seattle, Portland and Boise. Austin is a graduate of Garfield High School in Seattle and Connecticut College in New London, Connecticut. Austin’s reporting has been recognized with awards from the Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors, Public Radio News Directors Incorporated and the Society of Professional Journalists.
Austin Jenkins
Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy, as well as the Washington State Legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia."