OLYMPIA — Gov. Jay Inslee was weighing Thursday afternoon whether or not to veto the bill passed last Friday, Feb. 23, which would retroactively specify that the state’s voter-approved Public Records Act does not apply to the legislative branch.
The governor had until midnight Thursday — hours after the Peninsula Daily News print edition deadline — to take one of four options available to him: He could sign the measure, veto it completely, partially veto it, or take no action, in which case it would become law immediately.
Rep. Mike Chapman of Port Angeles said he would not vote to override a veto.
As far as Chapman knows, he was the only legislator to take the stand.
The other two Democratic legislators for the 24th District, which includes Clallam and Jefferson counties, said they would decide what to do after Inslee acted — or didn’t act.
State Sen. Kevin Van De Wege of Sequim said he did not expect the governor to reject the bill, calling a veto-override of the Democratic governor “kind of a touchy subject.”
Both Van De Wege and Rep. Steve Tharinger of Sequim said they would discuss the issue after Inslee makes his decision.
All three voted for the bill.
The bill creates a more limited legislative disclosure obligation for legislative records and would allow release of some lawmaker correspondence and records beginning on July 1.
Inslee’s office said it had received more than 5,500 phone calls, 100 letters and more than 11,500 emails regarding the bill, with the vast majority asking for his veto.
The bill passed the Senate on a 41-7 vote and was quickly approved by the House 83-14.
The bill was introduced just two days before it was passed, and lawmakers overrode all normal legislative procedures to quickly advance it with minimal public input.
Because the bill is retroactive, it would prohibit the release of records being sought by the coalition of news organizations, led by The Associated Press — and including Sound Publishing, which owns the Peninsula Daily News — that sued last September and who prevailed in an initial court ruling last month in Thurston County. The Legislature is appealing that ruling.