Update: Senate panel advances public records restrictions for Wash.

Feb 2, 2012

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Lawmakers are advancing a plan that could limit how governments respond to requests for public documents.

A Senate panel voted 4-2 on Thursday to approve the measure.

Democratic Sen. Maralyn Chase of Shoreline initially opposed the bill, saying she had "serious concerns," but she changed her position after the hearing and did not return a call seeking comment.

Lawmakers did vote to remove language from the bill that allowed agencies to seek a court order blocking a request if they could prove it was "significant burden." They kept in rules that would permit agencies to adopt policies limiting the amount of time devoted to responding to records requests.

Some local government officials are seeking the law change to deal with abusive requesters. Open government advocates say there are already tools to deal with excessive requests.