Inside Opinion

What's on the minds of Tacoma News Tribune editorial writers

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Tag: open records


Many courts need a refresher on open records rights

This editorial will appear in Wednesday’s print edition.
Location seems to be a key factor in determining whether citizens can successfully obtain public records they’re entitled to by state law.

At least that what News Tribune reporter Sean  Robinson discovered when he requested public documents regarding cases adjudicated in 22 district and municipal courts in the South Sound.
The cases were routine ones that Robinson knew should be made available under state open records law – for free. He asked for the documents as a private citizen to see how the courts’ staffs would respond.

Those responses were all over the map. Hats off to the ones that provided the requested documents in timely fashion: Pierce County District Court and municipal courts in Tacoma, Puyallup, Federal Way, Olympia, Gig Harbor, Buckley and Fife.
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Agencies should pay if they violate open records law

This editorial will appear in Tuesday’s print edition.

Open-government advocates have successfully beat back the most egregious attempts to undermine public disclosure this legislative session. But they are still poised to suffer defeats that could have lasting implications for the fight to keep the public’s business public.

A couple of bills that appear to be all but guaranteed a trip to the governor’s desk, while not the broad rollbacks of public records laws that lawmakers eyed earlier this year, would chip further away at state government’s presumption of openness.

The most troublesome is a bill that once was a well-intended attempt by Rep. Mark Miloscia (D-Federal Way) to adjust fines for public-records violations for inflation.
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Open-records office worth starting to talk about

This editorial will appear in Tuesday’s print edition.

Legislation that would create a new state open-records office is a good idea with bad timing.

Anything that comes with a price tag is likely to encounter resistance this session – even if it could end up saving money in the long run, which is the goal of those supporting House Bill 1044 and its companion bill in the Senate, SB 5237.

It’s a cruel fiscal fact that many programs that provide long-term financial benefits and help vulnerable populations likely will be cut to fill the state’s estimated $4.6 billion budget deficit.

But even if the open-records office legislation doesn’t pass this session, there’s no harm in starting to talk about a different way of handling records request disputes. Read more »