South County Politics: Legislators weigh in on open-records vote; low voter turnout in school election

Kagi, Chase explain votes that exempt legislature from records law

State Rep. Ruth Kagi has joined State Sen. Maralyn Chase in explaining the pair’s votes for a bill that would exempt the legislature from the state public-records law.

Both represent Lynnwood, Woodway, parts of Edmonds and Mountlake Terrace, and the rest of the 32nd Legislative District.

Legislators recently passed the bill in reaction to a Thurston County Superior Court decision that they are not exempts from the law, a law that, critics note, applies to most other entities of state and local government.

Critics also noted that the Legislature passed the bill without the normal process, including public hearings.

Kagi said Tuesday that she agreed that the process was wrong, but she defended the substance of the bill.

“While the process leading to the passage of this bill was not the process that I would have liked to see, I believe that the bill strikes an important balance between bringing the workings of the Legislature into the sunshine, protecting the privacy and rights of constituents, and assuring that the legislative process can move forward,” she said.

Kagi particularly defended the bill’s exemption for discussions among legislators.

“Legislation requires a lot of negotiation and deliberation,” she pointed out. “That process would be greatly compromised if every proposal or counter proposal became public. Legislators would be reluctant to propose “out of the box” ideas knowing they could go viral. The give and take that is essential to the development of thoughtful legislation would be seriously curtailed. The disclosure rules protect the legislative process and the confidentiality of your communications while assuring that the public knows what paid interests are trying to influence policy.”

Kagi also said that the new legislation keeps communication with constituents private, while opening legislators’ calendars.

“It is important that the public has access to legislators’ calendars as well as communications with lobbyists so that the public can see who their representative is meeting with and what they are talking about,” she said.

Kagi said that the law that the Legislature passed also would allow public access to legislators’ correspondence on legislative business to and from lobbyists and other people who are paid to influence legislation and to final dispositions of investigations and disciplinary proceedings by administrative committees that oversee the House and Senate.

Chase had said that legislators’ communications often include requests for help with personal matters that need to be private. Her statement appeared here Tuesday.

South County voters had low turnout for school election

Turnout by voters in Edmonds, Lynnwood, Mountlake Terrace, Brier, Woodway and the rest of the Edmonds School District for the Feb. 13 special election was low by several measures.

Results certified Feb. 23 showed turnout that was lower than the turnout in the rest of Snohomish County. Local turnout also was lower than the Edmonds School District turnout of 30.2 percent when the district last approved a levy.

Turnout this year in the Edmonds School District was 28.6 percent, compared to 30.7 percent countywide. A late flurry of voting brought county turnout above the 30 percent originally predicted by elections officials. County Elections Manager Garth Fell had said the day before the election that ballot returns were trending at a final return of 28 percent.

The only item on local ballots was the school district’s replacement programs and operations levy. It passed 54.35 percent to 45.65 percent.

–By Evan Smith

Evan Smith can be reached at

  1. After 21 years in private industry, running multi-million dollar businesses and being self-employed, I’ve been a state employee for the past 23+ years. From the beginning of my government service, I fully understood every piece of equipment I used, every tax dollar I spent, every voice message or email sent or received belonged to the residents of Washington State.

    I conducted business of the State accordingly – and will continue to do so until I retire.

    Why state legislators and other elected officials, servants of the public, can’t do likewise is beyond me.

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