Gov. Jay Inslee must veto a bill that would allow Washington lawmakers to conceal more of their working documents than almost every other government official in the state.

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Washington state lawmakers have committed an egregious breach of the public trust. It now falls to Gov. Jay Inslee to correct the wrong born from their hubris.

The governor must veto Senate Bill 6617, a brazen attempt by lawmakers to exempt themselves from the state’s Public Records Act. These elected officials are evading the ruling of a judge and contradicting Attorney General Bob Ferguson, both of whom said legislators are subject to the law.

SB 6617 attempts to shut down a lawsuit brought by 10 news-media organizations, including The Associated Press and The Seattle Times. The bill tries to permanently ban access to lawmakers’ past emails, text messages and calendars, as well as past disciplinary proceedings and complaints about lawmakers’ conduct.

In this #MeToo era, where victims of sexual harassment at the state Capitol have had to seek justice through the news media, the Legislature closing off records of how past cases might have been mishandled is a particular abomination.
Yet in a stunning show of arrogance Friday, a majority of legislators made it clear they think no one has the right to scrutinize their past work on the public’s dime — not even the voters who elected them.

With dizzying speed and no public debate, state lawmakers passed the bill sealing off thousands of records that could inform voters how well their elected leaders are representing them. The entire process took about 48 hours — alarmingly fast for Washington’s frequently plodding Legislature — and came one month after Thurston County Superior Court Judge Chris Lanese ruled legislators broke the law by not releasing public documents associated with their work.

Clay Jones
Clay Jones

Going forward, the bill allows lawmakers to conceal more records than almost every other government official in the state, while eliminating the option to appeal to a judge to decide if the Legislature has wrongly withheld documents.

Now, in a perverse twisting of reality, these same state lawmakers are proudly telling constituents they just made state government more transparent, not less. This shockingly dishonest spin ignores the court ruling that found lawmakers have been illegally withholding documents for years, a clear violation of the citizens’ right to know what their elected officials are doing.

It is shameful that lawmakers swiftly passed this legislation rolling back government accountability measures that voters approved in 1972.

Their approach is anathema to Gov. Inslee’s long-standing sensibility and commitment to open government. He has been one of the most transparent executives in recent memory, eschewing the practice of invoking executive privilege to withhold certain records. He has rightfully vetoed legislation he thought would rupture the state’s open-government laws. He has chided lawmakers for their secrecy and told them they can function effectively while following the same transparency standards as his office and other government agencies.

Now is the time for Inslee to show he is not just talk. He must take a stand and veto SB 6617.
Inslee must act as the voice of the people, especially after the Legislature purposefully squelched opportunities for public comment by rushing through this bill. The disingenuous attachment of an emergency clause to the measure eliminates voters’ ability to launch a referendum effort of their own.

The governor must not be deterred simply because the bill passed with large enough majorities in both chambers to override his veto. He must force lawmakers to once again answer to their constituents. And, this time, he must urge those so-called public servants to actually listen.

If lawmakers choose to break the public’s trust yet again by overcoming an Inslee veto, voters will be left to conclude only one thing: These elected representatives must have something to hide.

Citizens should also stand up for themselves by calling their local lawmakers, urging them to accept the governor’s veto and reject SB 6617 should it come back up for a vote.

This disgraceful effort by the Legislature is an affront to one of the basic tenets of our democracy: That elected lawmakers work for the people.

They should not have the privilege of operating in the shadows.


Call Gov. Jay Inslee and urge him to veto SB 6617   

First, please call Gov. Jay Inslee and urge him to veto SB 6617 at 360-902-4111 or send an online message to the governor »

Then, please contact your lawmakers who voted for Senate Bill 6617 and urge them to stand down. If the governor vetoes SB 6617, they should not vote to override.


Who voted for secrecy

Below are the names, phone numbers and email addresses for King and Snohomish county lawmakers who voted for this ill-advised bill.

If you are unsure which legislative district you live in, you can search by address here »

District 1

Sen. Guy Palumbo
D-Maltby
360-786-7600
guy.palumbo@leg.wa.gov

Rep. Derek Stanford
D-Bothell
360-786-7928
derek.stanford@leg.wa.gov

Rep. Shelley Kloba
D-Kirkland
360-786-7900
shelley.kloba@leg.wa.gov


District 5

Sen. Mark Mullet
D-Issaquah
360-786-7608
mark.mullet@leg.wa.gov

Rep. Jay Rodne
R-Snoqualmie
360-786-7852
jay.rodne@leg.wa.gov


District 11

Sen. Bob Hasegawa
D-Seattle
360-786-7616
bob.hasegawa@leg.wa.gov

Rep. Zack Hudgins
D-Tukwila
360-786-7956
zack.hudgins@leg.wa.gov

Rep. Steve Bergquist
D-Renton
360-786-7862
steve.bergquist@leg.wa.gov


District 21

Sen. Marko Liias
D-Lynnwood
360-786-7640
marko.liias@leg.wa.gov

Rep. Strom Peterson
D-Edmonds
360-786-7950
strom.peterson@leg.wa.gov

Rep. Lillian Ortiz-Self
D-Mukilteo
360-786-7972
lillian.ortiz-self@leg.wa.gov


District 31

Sen. Phil Fortunato
R-Auburn
360-786-7660
phil.fortunato@leg.wa.gov

Rep. Drew Stokesbary
R-Auburn
360-786-7846
drew.stokesbary@leg.wa.gov

Rep. Morgan Irwin
R-Enumclaw
360-786-7866
morgan.irwin@leg.wa.gov


District 32

Sen. Maralyn Chase
32nd District
D-Shoreline
360-786-7662
maralyn.chase@leg.wa.gov

Rep. Cindy Ryu
D-Shoreline
360-786-7880
cindy.ryu@leg.wa.gov

Rep. Ruth Kagi
D-Seattle
360-786-7910
ruth.kagi@leg.wa.gov


District 33

Sen. Karen Keiser
D-Kent
360-786-7664
karen.keiser@leg.wa.gov

Rep. Mia Gregerson
D-SeaTac
360-786-7868
mia.gregerson@leg.wa.gov


District 34

Sen. Sharon Nelson
D-Maury Island
360-786-7667
sharon.nelson@leg.wa.gov

Rep. Eileen Cody
D-Seattle
360-786-7978
eileen.cody@leg.wa.gov

Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon
D-Burien
360-786-7952
joe.fitzgibbon@leg.wa.gov


District 36

Rep. Noel Frame
D-Seattle
360-786-7814
noel.frame@leg.wa.gov

Rep. Gael Tarleton
D-Seattle
360-786-7860
gael.tarleton@leg.wa.gov


District 37

Sen. Rebecca Saldaña
D-Seattle
360-786-7688
rebecca.saldana@leg.wa.gov

Rep. Sharon Tomiko Santos
D-Seattle
360-786-7944
sharontomiko.santos@leg.wa.gov

Rep. Eric Pettigrew
D-Seattle
360-786-7838
eric.pettigrew@leg.wa.gov


District 38

Sen. John McCoy
D-Tulalip
360-786-7674
john.mccoy@leg.wa.gov

Rep. June Robinson 
D-Everett
360-786-7864
june.robinson@leg.wa.gov

Rep. Mike Sells
D-Everett
360-786-7840
mike.sells@leg.wa.gov


District 39

Rep. Dan Kristiansen
R-Snohomish
360-786-7967
dan.kristiansen@leg.wa.gov

Rep. Carolyn Eslick
R-Sultan
360-786-7816
carolyn.eslick@leg.wa.gov


District 41

Sen. Lisa Wellman
D-Mercer Island
360-786-7641
lisa.wellman@leg.wa.gov

Rep. Tana Senn
D-Mercer Island
360-786-7894
tana.senn@leg.wa.gov

Rep. Judy Clibborn
D-Mercer Island
360-786-7926
judy.clibborn@leg.wa.gov


District 43

Sen. Jamie Pedersen
D-Seattle
360-786-7628
jamie.pedersen@leg.wa.gov

Rep. Nicole Macri
D-Seattle
360-786-7826
nicole.macri@leg.wa.gov

Rep. Frank Chopp
D-Seattle
360-786-7920
frank.chopp@leg.wa.gov


District 44

Sen. Steve Hobbs
D-Lake Stevens
360-786-7686
steve.hobbs@leg.wa.gov

Rep. John Lovick
D-Mill Creek
360-786-7804
john.lovick@leg.wa.gov


District 45

Sen. Manka Dhingra
D-Redmond
360-786-7672
manka.dhingra@leg.wa.gov

Rep. Roger Goodman
D-Kirkland
360-786-7878
roger.goodman@leg.wa.gov

Rep. Larry Springer
D-Kirkland
360-786-7822
larry.springer@leg.wa.gov


District 46

Sen. David Frockt
D-Seattle
360-786-7690
david.frockt@leg.wa.gov

Rep. Gerry Pollet
D-Seattle
360-786-7886
gerry.pollet@leg.wa.gov

Rep. Javier Valdez
D-Seattle
360-786-7818
javier.valdez@leg.wa.gov


District 47

Rep. Mark Hargrove
R-Covington
360-786-7918
mark.hargrove@leg.wa.gov

Rep. Pat Sullivan
D-Covington
360-786-7858
pat.sullivan@leg.wa.gov


District 48

Sen. Patty Kuderer
D-Bellevue
360-786-7694
patty.kuderer@leg.wa.gov

Rep. Vandana Slatter
D-Bellevue
360-786-7936
vandana.slatter@leg.wa.gov

Rep. Joan McBride
D-Kirkland
360-786-7848
joan.mcbride@leg.wa.gov


Who stood up against secrecy

A brave few lawmakers in the House and Senate stood up for government transparency, countering their caucus leaders who insisted the Legislature should not be subject to the state Public Records Act.

Some lawmakers opposed the bill because it did not require enough openness; others because the process was the antithesis of transparency — a fast track with no meaningful hearings. Others opposed for both reasons.

Here are the legislative open-records heroes from King and Snohomish counties who stood up for your right to know.

District 5

Rep. Paul Graves
R-Fall City
360-786-7876
paul.graves@leg.wa.gov

District 30

Sen. Mark Miloscia
R-Federal Way
360-786-7658
mark.miloscia@leg.wa.gov

Rep. Kristine Reeves
D-Federal Way
360-786-7830
kristine.reeves@leg.wa.gov

Rep. Mike Pellicciotti
D-Federal Way
360-786-7898
mike.pellicciotti@leg.wa.gov

District 33

Rep. Tina Orwall
D-Des Moines
360-786-7834
tina.orwall@leg.wa.go

District 36

Sen. Reuven Carlyle
36th District D-Seattle
360-786-7670
reuven.carlyle@leg.wa.gov

District 39

Sen. Keith Wagoner
R-Sedro-Woolley
360-786-7676
keith.wagoner@leg.wa.gov

District 44

Rep. Mark Harmsworth
44th District
R-Mill Creek
360-786-7892
mark.harmsworth@leg.wa.gov

District 47

Sen. Joe Fain
47th District
R-Auburn
360-786-7692
joe.fain@leg.wa.gov