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Government and Politics
Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Washington Legislature. Austin Jenkins is the Olympia correspondent for the Northwest News Network. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) weekly public affairs program "Inside Olympia."

Lawmaker Emails, Calendars Would Be Released Under Republican Proposal

Washington Legislature
Washington state Rep. Paul Graves plans to introduce the Legislative Transparency Act ahead of the 2018 legislative session.

Washington state Rep. Paul Graves is proposing to end the cloak of secrecy around legislative emails, calendars and other records. The move comes as media outlets, including public radio, have sued the Legislature over public records.

The Republican from Fall City said he will introduce the Legislative Transparency Act ahead of the 2018 legislative session. The proposed law would make clear that lawmaker records like emails, text messages and calendars are subject to disclosure.

“We’re government employees, we’re being paid by taxes and the people of the state deserve to know and have access to the information that their tax dollars are paying for,” Graves said.

Graves argues lawmaker records are currently exempt from disclosure because of a 1995 amendment to the Public Records Act. His proposed bill would remove that language.

Democratic state Rep. Gerry Pollet said he plans to introduce similar legislation.

Public radio is part of a coalition of media outlets led by the Associated Press that filed a lawsuit in September challenging the legislative exemption.