Rep. Joel Kretz appointed to ‘Open Government Task Force’

Lawmaker's experience and interest in transparent government needed to find solutions to public records, meetings debate

Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna has appointed Rep. Joel Kretz, R-Wauconda, to the state's Open Government Task Force, which is charged with finding efficient and effective ways to address public records requests while reducing costs to governmental agencies.

“This is truly an honor and a group in which I know can make a difference for the citizens of the state,” said Kretz, who serves as the deputy leader for the House Republicans. “The government at every level is supposed to serve the public, and everyone has a right to ask to review documents prepared by the government. That said, there have been some abuses in the system, costly litigation and legitimate questions raised that I hope this task force will address.”

The directives to the task force include looking at what other states are doing to resolve open record request disputes. The group will vet ideas on how to avoid litigation by using mediation, dispute resolution and legislative reforms. The goal is to ensure public records requests are handled in the best possible way without costing citizens requesting records and state and local governments exorbitant amounts of money.

“One key element the group will study is how to train governmental officials about their responsibilities under the Open Public Records Act,” said Kretz. “I think many of the disputes over requests are due to a lack of understanding of this complex law. We can begin to make the system more understandable and responsive just by tackling this problem. I look forward to making some positive progress on this issue. I appreciate Rob McKenna taking a leadership role as we work to ensure an open and transparent government.”

Kretz authored an “open government” measure that was signed into law this year. House Bill 1552 requires state agencies to accept individual oral testimony in the presence of all other attendees at public meetings. This applies to meetings held under the Open Public Meetings Act where a state agency is adopting an ordinance, resolution, rule, order or directive. The issue was brought to him by a constituent and local media outlet.

The task force meetings are scheduled for Oct. 5 and Nov. 2 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the attorney general's office in Olympia.

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Washington State House Republican Communications
houserepublicans.wa.gov