Should public records requests be curbed in Washington state?

Jan 31, 2012

OLYMPIA, Wash. — State lawmakers are exploring a plan that could limit how governments respond to requests for public documents.

A Senate panel heard arguments Tuesday on a plan that would permit agencies to get a court order if they can prove that a records request creates a "significant burden."

The law would also allow governments to adopt policy limiting the amount of time devoted to responding to records requests.

Some government leaders point to individuals who file onerous requests as a way to harass the agency. But open-government advocates say the proposal would also allow government officials to claim avoid the disclosure of records when someone is investigating wrongdoing.

The bill is sponsored by Sens. Margarita Prentice of Renton, Dan Swecker of Rochester and Mary Margaret Haugen of Camano Island.