Gov. Jay Inslee this week signed a bill raising the penalties for public officials who knowingly attend meetings in violation of Washington’s open meeting law.
OLYMPIA — The penalties will be pricier for public officials who knowingly attend meetings in violation of Washington state’s open-meetings law.
The state’s Open Public Meetings Act requires all meetings of governing bodies of public agencies to be open to the public.
The law covers agencies, commissions, departments, education institutions, local governments, special purpose districts and state boards.
Senate Bill 6171, signed Tuesday by Gov. Jay Inslee, increases the penalty for a public official who knowingly attends a meeting in violation of the act. The bill was requested by the state Attorney General’s Office and sponsored by Sen. Pam Roach, R-Sumner.
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The penalties are now $500 for the first violation, and $1,000 for each successive violation.
Before, the penalty has been $100 per violation, a number that has remained unchanged since the law was enacted in 1971.
Given that it hasn’t been updated in more than 45 years, public officials “must be held accountable with meaningful penalties,” Attorney General Bob Ferguson said in a statement.
No specific incident sparked the writing of the bill, according to Peter Lavallee, communications director for the Attorney General’s Office.