OLYMPIA – The cost could go up for public records requesters seeking electronic documents.
Under the Public Records Act, government agencies can collect a small fee for releasing paper copies of public records.
As part of proposed House Bill 1684, the first 10 megabytes of data are free, and then it’s 15 cents per megabyte after that.
Public testimony was provided Thursday to the House Appropriations Committee.
Proponents of the bill said it would help them deal with serial requesters and large requests, which can be difficult for small agencies to process.
“Serial requesters don’t come by very often, but when they do they cause us a lot of problems for our school districts,” said Deb Merle, a spokesperson for the Washington State School Directors Association. “They cost a lot of money that doesn’t end up in the classroom.”
Bill co-sponsor Rep. Matt Manweller, R-Ellensburg, said he supported the legislation because it would save money, but he acknowledged how important open records are for accountability.
“Almost every public records bill I have ever put my name on has an exemption for the media,” Manweller said. “My purpose in signing on the bill is to control costs for the handful of malcontents who use it as a vindictive tool to go after city governments.”
Subscribe to the Morning Review newsletter
Get the day’s top headlines delivered to your inbox every morning by subscribing to our newsletter