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MRSC Insight Blog


Posts by Flannary Collins

Banning Plastic Straws and Utensils

Banning Plastic Straws and Utensils

August 16, 2018 by Flannary Collins
Category: Environmental Policy , Environmental Management

Is the era of plastic over in Seattle? Managing Attorney Flannary Collins looks at the city's, and other jurisdictions, attempts to ban various products made of plastic, from straws to bags to food-service ware.  

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A How-To Guide to Sponsoring Summer Celebrations

A How-To Guide to Sponsoring Summer Celebrations

June 14, 2018 by Flannary Collins
Category: Gift of Public Funds

Summertime, and the living is easy — except when you need to plan a special event but want to avoid making a gift of public funds. Legal Consultant Flannary Collins offers some tips on how to make sure all your special events are worry-free.

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New Bills Addressing Gender Discrimination and Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

New Bills Addressing Gender Discrimination and Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

April 25, 2018 by Flannary Collins
Category: Personnel Policies

The Washington State Legislature passed several bills in the 2017-2018 legislative session related to gender equality and sexual harassment that local governments should be aware of.

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New Ruling Finds Facebook Posts Can Be a Public Record

New Ruling Finds Facebook Posts Can Be a Public Record

March 7, 2018 by Flannary Collins
Category: Public Records Act

A recent ruling in the Washington State Court of Appeals (Division Two) has clarified the circumstances under which personal Facebook posts can be considered public records. Legal Consultant Flannary Collins looks at the case of West v. City of Puyallup

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Seattle Experiments With Dockless Bike Share

Seattle Experiments With Dockless Bike Share

November 20, 2017 by Flannary Collins
Category: Cycling and Walking

Seattle rolled out a dockless bike pilot program this past July and the colorful, 2-wheeled results can be seen all over the city. What's next for this program and what do neighboring jurisdictions think about it?

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Safe Injection Sites and the Opioid Crisis

Safe Injection Sites and the Opioid Crisis

September 21, 2017 by Flannary Collins
Category: Human, Health and Community Services

Claiming the lives of 142 Americans every day by drug overdose, the opioid crisis has been called a “Killer Drug Epidemic” and each level of government is reacting. In this blog post, MRSC Legal Consultant Flannary Collins gives a brief overview of the steps that federal, state, and local governments have taken so far to address this crisis. 

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Summer Fun: Tips on Holding Summer Community Celebrations

Summer Fun: Tips on Holding Summer Community Celebrations

June 19, 2017 by Flannary Collins
Category: Administration and Management , Streets and Sidewalks

Summer officially commences on Tuesday, June 20, and a lot of Washington cities and counties take advantage of the lovely Washington summers by holding a community celebration. In this post, Flannary Collins covers how to incorporate food and drink into your festivities as well as considerations related to parades. 

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New PRA Legislation: To Boldly Go Where the PRA Hasn’t Gone Before

New PRA Legislation: To Boldly Go Where the PRA Hasn’t Gone Before

May 30, 2017 by Flannary Collins
Category: Public Records Act , New Legislation

Governor Inslee signed ESHB 1594 and EHB 1595 on May 16, putting into place a number of notable changes to the PRA and records retention laws applicable to electronic records. So, what has changed in the PRA? In this blog, Flannary Collins takes a look at the highlights.

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New AGO Opinion Concludes the OPMA Allows a Governing Body to Meet via Telephone or Video Conference

New AGO Opinion Concludes the OPMA Allows a Governing Body to Meet via Telephone or Video Conference

April 3, 2017 by Flannary Collins
Category: Court Decisions, AGO Opinions and Regulations , Open Public Meetings Act

​On March 21, 2017, the Washington State Attorney General’s Office (AGO) issued a new opinion on the Open Public Meetings Act (OPMA), opining on whether a governing body can conduct a public meeting by telephone (or video) conference call. This blog post gives a quick overview of the AGO's conclusions.

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Balance of Power Struggles in City Government

Balance of Power Struggles in City Government

March 6, 2017 by Flannary Collins
Category: Administrative and Elected Officials

The balance of power struggles currently playing out in the federal government have me thinking about similar power struggles that can happen between the executive and legislative branches at the city level. This blog will touch on these struggles, providing insight on how to handle common conflicts that arise between the legislative and executive branches of city government.

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PRA Case Law Round Up for 2016

PRA Case Law Round Up for 2016

January 12, 2017 by Flannary Collins
Category: Court Decisions, AGO Opinions and Regulations , Public Records Act

It’s a new year and a perfect time for a 2016 PRA case law round up. This blog post recaps major PRA cases from 2016 that should be of continuing interest to Washington's local governments in 2017. Drum roll, please…

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PRA Performance Audit: 5 Tips for Improving the PRA Experience

PRA Performance Audit: 5 Tips for Improving the PRA Experience

December 9, 2016 by Flannary Collins
Category: Public Records Act

The SAO’s performance audit on the PRA highlighted ways to improve records management and the PRA response experience for both agencies and requestors. This blog post will focus on those tips, as well as adding some anecdotes and insights I have gleaned over the past 14 years from working with the PRA.

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PRA Performance Audit: Comparing Washington’s PRA to Other States

PRA Performance Audit: Comparing Washington’s PRA to Other States

October 19, 2016 by Flannary Collins
Category: Public Records Act

In my recent PRA Performance Audit: The Costs of Fulfilling PRA Requests blog post, I focused on the SAO’s audit findings related to the costs incurred by public agencies in responding to records requests. This blog post will focus on another aspect of the SAO’s audit: approaches other states and the federal government have taken with their public records laws. 

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PRA Performance Audit: The Costs of Fulfilling PRA Requests

PRA Performance Audit: The Costs of Fulfilling PRA Requests

September 14, 2016 by Flannary Collins
Category: Public Records Act

This blog post is the first in a series analyzing the State Auditor’s Office’s (SAO’s) PRA performance audit: The Effect of Public Records Requests on State and Local Governments, and will provide a general overview of the audit with a particular focus on the SAO’s findings related to the costs incurred by public agencies, with future blog posts focusing on other aspects of the audit.

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Summer Celebrations: How to Hold an Event Without Gifting Public Funds

Summer Celebrations: How to Hold an Event Without Gifting Public Funds

August 10, 2016 by Flannary Collins
Category: Gift of Public Funds

Summer is a perfect time to celebrate—the days are longer, the weather is warmer, and the community-vibe is in full swing. Cities, counties, and other municipalities like to join in the summertime fun by organizing community celebrations and events. While municipalities can sponsor such events, they do need to be mindful of the gift of public funds prohibition contained in article 8, section 7 of the Washington State Constitution.

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Police Records: My Take on Some of the Tricky Disclosure Questions

Police Records: My Take on Some of the Tricky Disclosure Questions

June 17, 2016 by Flannary Collins
Category: Law Enforcement Records Disclosure

We received a number of interesting questions during our recent webinar on disclosure of police records that we didn’t have time to answer, and, based on the number of questions submitted, it’s clear that I’m not the only one who finds this to be a difficult area of public records law. So, today I’ll provide my thoughts on some of the trickier questions we weren’t able to address during the webinar.

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New PRA Exemption for Body Camera Recordings

New PRA Exemption for Body Camera Recordings

April 27, 2016 by Flannary Collins
Category: Law Enforcement Records Disclosure

Thanks to EHB 2362, there’s a new Public Records Act (PRA) exemption for body camera recordings. However, the new exemption only applies to agencies with body camera programs in effect as of June 9, 2016, so act soon if your agency wants to take advantage of it.

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Personal Information in Public Records: Is It Subject to Disclosure?

Personal Information in Public Records: Is It Subject to Disclosure?

February 24, 2016 by Flannary Collins
Category: Public Records Act

People submit their personal information to public agencies in various contexts, including when a citizen signs up for public comment at an agency meeting, a witness to a crime is interviewed by the police, a new employee is hired by an agency, or a homeowner starts receiving utility services. How much of this personal information is subject to public disclosure?

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New Rules Addressing Use of Gender-Segregated Facilities by Transgender Individuals

New Rules Addressing Use of Gender-Segregated Facilities by Transgender Individuals

January 14, 2016 by Flannary Collins
Category: Inclusive Communities

Effective December 26, 2015, the Washington State Human Rights Commission (HRC) adopted new rules requiring that individuals be allowed to use gender-segregated facilities, such as restrooms, locker rooms, dressing rooms, and homeless or emergency shelters, that are consistent with their gender expression or gender identity.

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Transitioning Back to Work After Baby

Transitioning Back to Work After Baby

November 12, 2015 by Flannary Collins
Category: Leave Policies

My most recent blog post covered the different types of parental leave available to care for a new child. While parental leave is a bit of a maze, once the initial newborn stage has passed and the new parent returns to work, that is when the real juggling act starts. Being a mom to two young children myself, I am well aware of the new set of challenges parents face when they return to work after having a baby.  If their babies are anything like mine, most new parents returning to work may be a bit lacking in the sleep department; sorting through these new challenges can be especially daunting when you are sleep-deprived. Maybe these tips will help clear some of the cobwebs.

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Parental Leave for Local Government Employees

Parental Leave for Local Government Employees

September 9, 2015 by Flannary Collins
Category: Leave Policies

My recent maternity leave (my second child was born in March) got me thinking about the confusing mix of laws that governs a local government employee’s right to maternity disability leave and to parental leave to care for a new baby, a newly adopted child, or a recently placed foster child.

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New Records Retention Guidance for Sensitive Authentication Data

New Records Retention Guidance for Sensitive Authentication Data

January 22, 2015 by Flannary Collins
Category: Public Records Act

The Secretary of State’s Local Government Common Records Retention Schedule (CORE) has a brand new category concerning the destruction of “Sensitive Authentication Data” obtained during fi...

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Police Body Cameras: Privacy Implications and Other Considerations

Police Body Cameras: Privacy Implications and Other Considerations

December 3, 2014 by Flannary Collins
Category: Law Enforcement Records Disclosure

There’s been quite a bit of buzz recently around the issue of police body cameras – cameras attached to a police officer’s uniform or cap that record conversations and actions of people within the camera’s purview.  In addition to the national focus on police body cameras resulting from the shooting of unarmed teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri – for which there was no video recording – a number of jurisdictions in this state, including Spokane and Seattle, are looking at implementing or have implemented police body camera programs. And the Washington State Attorney General just opined on privacy law considerations regarding their use.

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Electric Vehicle Charging Stations: To Charge or Not to Charge?

Electric Vehicle Charging Stations: To Charge or Not to Charge?

November 12, 2014 by Flannary Collins
Category: Energy Resources and Conservation

In recent years, local governments in Washington State have been installing electric vehicle (EV) charging stations at their government facilities.  MRSC recently partnered with Western Washington Clean Cities for an EV Charging Conference, where I gave a presentation on the legal concerns with providing agency employees and members of the public fre...

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New MRSC Webpage Showcasing OPMA and PRA Practice Tips

New MRSC Webpage Showcasing OPMA and PRA Practice Tips

October 8, 2014 by Flannary Collins
Category: Open Public Meetings Act , Public Records Act

During my ten years as Shoreline assistant city attorney, I faced constant questions from staff and officials on the Public Records Act (PRA) and Open Public Meetings Act (OPMA). Two of my go-to resources for these questions were MRSC’s PRA and OPMA publications, both of which I found to be thorough and helpful. Now...

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Yakima

Yakima's Election System Deemed in Violation of Voting Rights Act

September 4, 2014 by Flannary Collins
Category: Elections

A federal district court judge recently ruled that the City of Yakima’s city council election system violates Section 2 of the federal Voting Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. §1973.  Observing that no...

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New Law in Effect Regarding Health Care Information Received by an Agency

July 17, 2014 by Flannary Collins
Category: Administration and Management

Has your agency received "health care information" about a person that it never requested and is not authorized to receive? ("Health care information" is defined in RCW 70.02.010(16).) If so, you need to pay attention to new legislation related to such health care information that took effect on July 1, 2014. This legislation amends the Washington State’s Uniform Health Care Information Act...

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The Push to Increase the Minimum Wage, Revisited

May 28, 2014 by Flannary Collins
Category: Minimum Wage

I last blogged about this issue in February (see The $15 Minimum Wage – An Issue with Momentum), and its momentum has certainly not slowed, at least not on the state and local level. The federal minimum wage has not been raised for nearly five years and a recent push to increase the rate from $7.25 per hour to $10.10 per hour failed to pass the U.S. Senate. With the issue stalled at the federal...

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The $15 Minimum Wage - An Issue with Momentum

February 5, 2014 by Flannary Collins
Category: Minimum Wage

Some of the current fervor for a $15 minimum wage can be traced to the City of SeaTac, which made national headlines after a majority of its voters approved a citizen’s initiative to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour for employees working for specified transportation and hospitality employers in the city. (See the city's web page on the new law.) A...

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16-Year-Old Voters Make the Difference in Mayor's Election!

December 4, 2013 by Flannary Collins
Category: Elections , Public Participation

You would not see this type of headline in Washington State, but in a small city in Maryland, it actually could happen. Takoma Park, MD, located just outside the other Washington, became the first city in the nation to allow 16 and 17-year-olds to vote in municipal elections. The city council’s aim was to boost voter turnout; the jury is still out on whether this will help, but – what an...

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New Kid on the MRSC Block

New Kid on the MRSC Block

August 22, 2013 by Flannary Collins
Category:

I am thrilled to begin this new chapter in my career with MRSC as a legal consultant.  After working as the City of Shoreline’s assistant city attorney for 10 years and providing legal advice and representation to all city departments, I have a solid background for my new role in providing legal assistance to...

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