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Sat., March 28, 2009, midnight

Don’t block the sunshine

Review of exemptions to voter-passed open-government law essential

As discussed in previous editorials, Gov. Chris Gregoire is scanning the hundreds of boards and commissions created over the years; she wants to see which ones have outlived their usefulness. On the list is the Sunshine Committee, which is a mere two years old. The Public Records Exemptions Accountability Committee was formed to look into the approximately 300 exemptions to the voter-approved open-government law to see if they merit removal.

The committee still performs a valuable function … when it meets. When it doesn’t meet, darkness descends.

On the March 18 agenda was a proposal by committee chairman Tom Carr to eliminate “legislative privilege,” according to an article in the Olympian. Doing so would directly subject the state Legislature to the Public Disclosure Act, which was passed by voters in 1972. Carr, who is the Seattle city attorney, figures that if the law applies to all other governmental bodies, including the governor’s office, it ought to apply to the Legislature, too. He’s right.

Problem is, lawmakers failed to show up for the meeting, so the proposal was pushed to May. If they pull another no-show, then the item moves to July. By that time, the committee might be eliminated.

As the song says, ain’t no sunshine when they’re gone.

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