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Records restrictions plan advances

OLYMPIA – Washington 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, had initially opposed the bill, saying she had “serious concerns” and that current law may already remedy the situation. But she changed her vote after the hearing and then said through a spokesman that she actually only had technical concerns.

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.