Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

AGO 1951 No. 176 -
Attorney General Smith Troy


A public hospital district is required to make public the records of the proceedings of the commissioners but not its general files and records.

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                                                               November 27, 1951

Honorable B. J. McLean
State Representative
Thirteenth District
716 Lakeside Drive
Moses Lake, Washington                                                                                                              Cite as:  AGO 51-53 No. 176

Dear Sir:

            Receipt is acknowledged of your letter of November 15, 1951, in which you request our opinion as to what records of a public hospital district are required to be made public.

            It is our conclusion that the proceedings of the commissioners constitute the records required to be made public.


            Section 15, chapter 264, Laws of 1945 (§ 6090-44, Rem. Supp. 1945) reads as follows:

            "The Commissioners shall serve without compensation but shall be reimbursed for actual expenses incurred in the performance of their duties hereunder.  No resolution shall be adopted without a majority vote of the whole Commission.  The Commission shall organize by election of its own members of a president and secretary, shall by resolution adopt rules governing the transaction of its business and shall adopt an official seal.   [[Orig. Op. Page 2]] All proceedings of the Commission shall be by motion or resolution recorded in a book or books kept for such purpose, which shall be public records."

            The concluding language of the foregoing section, it will be noted, does not relate to all records of the public hospital district, but only to the proceedings of the commission which are required to be by motion or resolution.  Such motions and resolutions are, by the specific terms of this statute, required to be kept in a book which shall be public records.  Such book of resolutions would, under this statute, be required to be kept in such manner as to be available for public inspection.  In the absence of a specific requirement that records of a public agency be made available to public inspection, it is discretionary with the administrative head of any governmental agency or institution whether records shall be made available.  Our court in the case ofState ex rel. Price v. Peterson, 198 Wash. 490, 88 P. (2d) 842, said:

            "* * * We do not think it follows that, because one is a public officer, all records and reports of such officer are public records, which the public is entitled to inspect."

            To the same effect seeState ex rel. Cook v. Reed, 36 Wash. 638, 79 Pac. 306.  Thus, the board of a public hospital district is required to keep and make available for public inspection a book in which its proceedings, in the form of motions and resolutions shall be recorded.  It is not required to make available for public inspection other files and records not specifically required by statute to be made public.

Very truly yours,

Attorney General

Assistant Attorney General