South County Politics: Kagi, Ryu, other legislators change course on public records

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State Reps. Ruth Kagi and Cindy Ryu, along with 39 other legislators, reversed course after an unpopular vote last week that would have exempted the legislature from state public records law.

In addition, the two apologized for their votes for the original bill.

After a public outcry, the legislators joined newspaper editorial boards across the state in urging Gov. Jay Inslee to veto the bill, which he did.

Kagi said Saturday, “A task force of interested parties will be convened to make recommendations to the legislature on the release of public records.”

She added that she assumes that the recommendations will include some legislation that will be introduced in the 2019 session.

She said that she and Ryu are working out the logistics of disclosing their calendars and correspondence with lobbyists.

“Each of us only has one staff member, our legislative assistants, so we are trying to figure out how to provide this information without overburdening our already hardworking staff.”

Kagi and Ryu represent Lynnwood, Woodway, parts of Edmonds and Mountlake Terrace, and the rest of the 32nd Legislative District.

In a Friday news release, Kagi said this:

“The bill moved through the legislature quickly last Friday, bypassing the regular legislative process, which is meant to ensure that there is adequate time for the public to review and comment on legislation.

“While Representative Ryu and I voted for this legislation as it passed the House, we strongly disagree with the rushed and secretive manner in which the bill was passed.

“We want to sincerely apologize to our constituents and commit to working during the interim on a solution that makes the legislature more open to the public while still protecting sensitive constituent information. We made a mistake and are moving forward to fix it.”

Kagi said that the legislation passed last week created new obligations regarding the public disclosure of legislative records.

“Under the bill, for the first time legislator calendars and correspondence between legislators and lobbyists would be available for public disclosure. The bill protected constituent correspondence from disclosure.

Ryu added, “I know from my years in local government that releasing records is not only doable, it is an important tool to hold elected officials accountable and creates a stronger democracy.”

Ryu is a former member of the Shoreline City Council, including time when she presided over the council as mayor.

— By Evan Smith 

Evan Smith can be reached at [email protected]

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