Kretz’s ‘open public meetings’ bill awaits governor’s signature

Constituent's legislation to ensure public can weigh-in at state agency meetings passes House, Senate unanimously

A measure that would allow citizens the opportunity to publicly comment at state agency meetings around the state is on its way to the governor's office for her consideration to be signed into law. House Bill 1552 was sponsored by Rep. Joel Kretz, who had the issue brought to him by Colville constituents.

“It's a big victory for those of us who want an open and transparent government,” said Kretz, R-Wauconda. “This is how our legislative process is supposed to work – the people see a need and bring it forward to be addressed. I'm proud to have district citizens and media folks take part in making sure our state and local governments run efficiently and serve the people in meaningful ways.”

A dust-up started last year when a state agency advertised a public meeting in Colville to discuss wildlife issues. To the surprise of attendees, the agency refused to allow public testimony on the impacts of the agency policies at the meeting. That's when a frustrated constituent along with the local newspaper, the Statesman-Examiner, contacted Kretz.

House Bill 1552, if signed into law, would require state agencies to accept individual oral testimony in the presence of all other attendees at public meetings. This would apply to meetings held under the Open Public Meetings Act where a state agency is adopting an ordinance, resolution, rule, order or directive.

“I think state agencies will actually like the two-way dialog this requirement will create,” Kretz explained. “Often times, a state agency representative may have created a rule or regulation in a different part of the state and may not understand the needs of communities affected by the rule. What fits one part of the state doesn't always fit when applied in other regions. This simply ensures the perspectives of local residents, who have to live under the regulations, are heard and their ideas are taken into consideration.”

The goal, Kretz said, is to foster a working relationship between the state agency and residents who want the best for their communities.

“I really owe the Statesman-Examiner and the local residents a great deal of thanks for working to make government more responsive to the needs of our district and others that will benefit from this legislation,” Kretz said.

For more information, contact: Bobbi Cussins, Public Information Officer: (360) 786-7252

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Washington State House Republican Communications
houserepublicans.wa.gov