Wilson appointed to state ‘Sunshine Committee,’ will consider public records exemptions

OLYMPIA – Sen. Jeff Wilson, R-Longview, has been appointed to the state ‘Sunshine Committee,’ the state panel that recommends which official records should be subject to public release, and which ones should remain confidential.

Wilson, ranking member on the Senate State Government and Elections Committee, was appointed to the Public Records Exemption Accountability Committee to represent the Senate Republican Caucus. Better known as the Sunshine Committee, the panel reviews exemptions to the state public records law on a regular schedule, and recommends whether they should be continued, modified or dropped. The appointment was announced this week by the lieutenant governor’s office.

The state law granting public access to most official government records was passed in 1972, and contained only 10 exemptions. By 2007, the Legislature had expanded the list to 500 exemptions, leading former Washington State Attorney General to urge creation of the committee, to reexamine each exemption provided by state law.

“Open government is a very important principle in Washington state, and we must take this responsibility seriously,” Wilson said. “Our public records law in Washington state is very permissive, yet we also must recognize that some records should not be disclosed – such as the home addresses of law enforcement officials and judges. Each one of the exemptions provided by law should be examined thoroughly and carefully to determine whether the public interest is served.”