March 5, 2018
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After public outcry, Gov. Inslee vetoes public records law

Saying transparency is "the cornerstone of democracy," Gov. Jay Inslee last Thursday vetoed a bill that would have exempted the Legislature from the Public Records Act passed by voters in the 1970s. Inslee cited letters from lawmakers -- who had hurriedly passed Senate Bill 6617 overwhelmingly the week before in just two days and without a public hearing -- asking for him to veto the bill and let them "start again."

Newspapers and other news media outlets had successfully sued the Legislature to force it to release records that lawmakers had long claimed to be exempt from disclosure.

Thousands of voters had called and sent messages asking Inslee to veto the bill, which would retroactively have exempted the Legislature from the state's Public Records Act, while creating limited disclosure obligations going forward. The bill quickly passed 41-7 in the Senate and 83-14 in the House. After a public outcry, however, 16 Senate Democrats and 41 House Democrats wrote letters saying they "made a mistake by failing to go through a full public hearing process on this very important legislation." Republicans also called for the bill to be vetoed, saying that was a "good start" to finding a solution.

“The public’s right to government information is one we hold dearly in Washington,” Inslee said. “I believe legislators will find they can fulfill their duties while being fully transparent, just like state and local governments all across Washington.”

In a deal announced along with the veto, the news organizations agreed to join the Legislature in seeking a stay of a recent court order pushing the Legislature to immediately disclose the records and begin work on legislation that would require public disclosure of legislative records while protecting sensitive constituent correspondence.

The Spokesman-Review and The Associated Press have more.

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A Lifetime of Learning

Workforce development begins young, continues over lifetime

By AWB President Kris Johnson

We all want our kids to grow up in a state with good-paying job prospects and the training to match them.

Today, there is a laser focus by our association's membership and other groups about the need to fill the workforce pipeline with skilled, job-ready workers. There simply aren't enough workers to fill the high-tech, high-wage jobs available in our state and nation.

We're working to address that problem by advocating for robust career and technical programming in our middle and high schools, training and certificate programs for high-demand jobs at our state's community and technical colleges.

We'll be talking about those very issues at the second-annual AWB Workforce Summit on March 21 in Bellevue.

Read the full column in The Wenatchee Business World
Dealing with Debt

State needs to begin paying down its bond debt

By The Everett Herald Editorial Board

Duane Davidson, now in his second year of office, hasn't been one to pursue many policy issues with lawmakers, unlike his predecessor who outlined an ambitious tax reform proposal that earned little interest. But Davidson has taken a stand to defend against raids of the "rainy day" fund and asked lawmakers to consider using some of the additional revenue to pay down the state's bond debt, add to its "rainy day" reserves or pay more toward its unfunded pension obligations. Their choice.

"I think that money would be better spent paying down any debt, pick your debt," Davidson said.

And there's significant debt to pay down.

The state's Debt Affordability Study for 2018, released by Davidson's office, reports that the state's debt portfolio has over the course of the last 20 years grown from $6.8 billion to more than $19 billion and totals $21 billion when financing contracts are included....

Read the full editorial in The Herald
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