OLYMPIA – Attorney General Rob McKenna today unveiled his 2007 package of open government legislation, which includes three bills reforming the Public Records Act and a joint-request bill with Governor Chris Gregoire requiring government agencies to provide actual notice to property owners when the agency is considering condemning private property.
The joint-request bill requires that a certified letter be sent to property owners and that a legal notice be published in a local newspaper of record, each describing when the agency’s governing body will be holding an open public meeting to consider the condemnation decision.
“It’s not asking too much to require that a $4.64 certified letter be sent to property owners who may have their property taken without their consent,” McKenna said. “We shouldn’t expect people to click through hundreds of web pages every week to make sure their property isn’t being considered for condemnation. Condemnations are critical decisions that can affect people’s homes and businesses, and this bill will ensure that property owners receive timely notice that such an important decision is being considered.”
The bill is a response to the case of Sound Transit v. Miller from February of this year, where the state Supreme Court upheld Sound Transit’s argument that information on a web page was adequate to notify Mr. Miller that a decision to condemn his property was being considered by the Sound Transit Board.
McKenna is also requesting that the Legislature adopt three bills related to the landmark Public Records Act (PRA), which the voters approved by initiative in 1972. The first creates a “sunshine committee” to review and recommend repeal or retention of the more than 300 exemptions from public disclosure that currently exist under state law, the second clarifies the statute of limitations for lawsuits alleging a violation of the PDA, and the third makes technical corrections to the act.
“The whole purpose of open government is defeated if there are too many exemptions to the Public Records Act,” McKenna said. “This package of legislation creates a process that will help to make sure that only the most essential exemptions are retained and eliminates confusion about the statute of limitation, to limit litigation and guarantee that the public retains access to the documents of their government.”
Eminent Domain One-Pager
Eminent Domain Bill (z-draft)
Public Disclosure One-Pager
Sunshine Committee bill (z-draft)
Recodification bill (z-draft)
Statute of Limitations bill (z-draft)
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Contact: Luke Esser, AG Outreach Director, (360) 584-3045