State Sen. Jamie Pedersen, D-Seattle, stands after testifying last Wednesday during a public hearing of the Senate State Government, Tribal Relations, and Elections Committee at the Capitol in Olympia. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

State Sen. Jamie Pedersen, D-Seattle, stands after testifying last Wednesday during a public hearing of the Senate State Government, Tribal Relations, and Elections Committee at the Capitol in Olympia. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

After a media blast, senator pulls legislative records bill

Newspaper execs and media lobbyists said it would shield too many types of records from disclosure.

OLYMPIA — A Senate bill prescribing which records of state lawmakers would be made public is done for the session, its author said Monday.

Sen. Jamie Pedersen, D-Seattle, said he reached the decision after a Feb. 13 public hearing in which newspaper executives and media lobbyists blasted the legislation for, among other things, shielding too many types of records from disclosure.

“I told you guys if the media pooped all over it, it was dead,” Pedersen said. “It’s dead.”

Lawmakers contend they are not subject to the same disclosure rules that apply to other elected officials under the state public records law. A lawsuit filed in 2017 by a media coalition — including The Daily Herald’s parent company, Sound Publishing, and led by The Associated Press, argues individual lawmakers are covered by the law. A Thurston County judge has agreed and the decision is on appeal to the state Supreme Court.

In the hearing, critics characterized Senate Bill 5784 as an attempt to change existing law before the high court decides the case.

“It was very clear that there was no opportunity for any good faith negotiations,” Pedersen said. “I was trying to find a compromise but there is no compromise available.”

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