Take action to help Washington cities manage excessive public record requests
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Do you know that some people in the state of Washington are abusing the Public Records Act and requesting excessive public records in an attempt to harass city governments? This problem is affecting large and small cities across the state of Washington, including Palouse. In some cases thousands of documents are requested that result in staff working over-time at a cost to tax payers and the delay of other important city business.
Do you know that cities in Washington are only allowed to charge for copies, while thirty other states, including Idaho, Montana, and Oregon have progressive laws that allow for charging actual staff time to the requester in the case of excessive record requests? A group of people in Palouse are concerned about this issue and have teamed up with Washington State Representative Susan Fagan who has co-drafted a bill that will allow cities to charge for actual staff time in the case of excessive requests.
This bill states that If a public record requester makes a request that will exceed more than five hours of labor within a month, the local authority has the ability to charge for the labor costs to perform the search and copying task. The hope is that local authorities will not charge fees unless it truly is a burden to the agency. In addition, a public agency can require payment in advance of a search where they expect more than five hours of labor is necessary, and require payment before the records are disclosed.
This is important legislation and we need your help to get it passed. The largest financial threat to our communities are potential law suits from individuals who intentionally submit excessive requests in an attempt to get local authorities to make a mistake that may be a violation of the Public Records Act. This legislation will help local authorities to manage excessive requests and prevent unnecessary and costly litigation. If you are interested in protecting our city governments and creating a balance so that a few individuals do not monopolize employees’ time to the detriment of other citizens please sign this petition.