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Residents to Inslee: Veto Legislature’s Public Records exemptions

FILE - Former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, left, walks with Gov. Jay Inslee, right, last week. (Ted S. Warren / AP)
FILE - Former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, left, walks with Gov. Jay Inslee, right, last week. (Ted S. Warren / AP)

OLYMPIA – Gov. Jay Inslee’s phones were ringing constantly Tuesday and the office email inbox was filling up with requests for him to veto a hastily passed bill that puts the Legislature under its own system for releasing public records.

Inslee has until Thursday to decide whether to sign, veto or allow the bill to become law without his signature. Chase Gallagher, an Inslee spokesman, said there’s been no decision yet on what action he’ll take.

Since Friday afternoon when the Legislature passed the bill exempting itself from the voter-approved Public Records law, and the end of business Tuesday, the office had received about 1,800 calls and 4,000 emails, Gallagher said. He wasn’t sure of the most recent ratio of those calling for Inslee to sign versus those calling for a veto, but when the calls stood at about 1,100, there had been seven saying he should sign it.

“I can’t think of another issue that’s been like this,” Gallagher said. One unusual thing about the emails is that they all seem to be personally written, he added. Usually when there is a large volume of emails, many are “form letters”, copied from something sent out by a group advocating for or against the issue.

Inslee was critical of the bill when it was first introduced last week, but said he might not veto it if passed with a veto-proof majority. The final counts on the bill in both chambers is greater than the two-thirds majority needed to override a veto, but critics of the bill have pointed out Inslee has previously vetoed bills, even those that passed with super majorities, to send a message to the Legislature.

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