The Washington State Sunshine Committee makes recommendations to the Washington Legislature to repeal or amend exemptions to disclosure under the state’s Public Records Act, Chapter 42.56 RCW. Earlier this week, the Committee released its 2016 Annual Report. The report summarizes committee discussions regarding the exemptions reviewed in 2016 and attaches five recommended amendments (at Report Exhibits A-E) to the Public Records Act and related statutes.
- Exhibit A proposes to redefine the scope of certain public employee information exempt from disclosure. The proposal would also provide that the exemption for certain employer investigation records ends once the agency notifies the complaining employee of the investigation’s outcome. RCW 42.56.250.
- Exhibit B would allow individuals associated with certain information in records to expressly consent to the information’s disclosure. RCW 42.56.230.
- Exhibit C would limit an express exemption for certain proprietary data and trade secrets to only that information submitted by vendors to the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services regarding state purchased health care. RCW 42.56.270(11).
- Exhibit D proposes to extend the current exemption for public contracting bid proposals submitted to the state to bid proposals submitted to local agencies. Bid proposals would be exempt from disclosure until the state or local agency announces the successful bidder or rejects all proposals. Current RCW 36.26.030 would be repealed and replaced with a new provision in Chapter 42.56 RCW.
- Exhibit E would impose procedural requirements to protect trade secret information upon both agencies and the businesses that confidentially disclose trade secret information to them. It would also subject businesses that contract with agencies to an adverse award of attorney fees if they seek to protect trade secret information and lose in court. The proposal does not provide a reciprocal attorney fee provision against those seeking the information if the business entity prevails in court. RCW 42.56.270.