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Pushing open government



Published: Tue, August 30, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



The (S.C.) Columbian: Similar to circuit-riding ministers of old but with a different message Washington state Attorney General Rob McKenna is spreading the news about open government. We're glad he's got such passion for such a cherished freedom.

McKenna is using a 12-city tour to discuss a new public disclosure law that puts more pressure on public agencies to release information to citizens. He also wants to hear from local agencies and instruct them on how to follow the law.

The new law closes a loophole created when the state Supreme Court ruled public records requests may be denied if agencies deem them too broad. McKenna has made open government a major priority since taking office in January. "A strong public disclosure act and other sunshine laws are very important to transparency and accountability in government," he said recently.

'Too broad' opinion

Last year the Supreme Court said government can ignore public records requests if they're too broad, and supported use of attorney-client privileges to deny public record requests. The new bill prevents agencies from using the "too broad" opinion.

But the law isn't perfect. The attorney-client exemption wasn't addressed, and language increasing fines for agencies that violate the law was removed by legislators. Greg Overstreet, a public access expert McKenna hired, accompanies McKenna on the tour.

Open records are necessary and essential for public knowledge of government actions.




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