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Posts for Court Decisions, AGO Opinions and Regulations

Ninth Circuit Holds Reed v. Town of Gilbert Does Not Extend to Commercial Speech

Ninth Circuit Holds Reed v. Town of Gilbert Does Not Extend to Commercial Speech

October 3, 2017 by Robert Sepler
Category: Court Decisions, AGO Opinions and Regulations , Sign Control

On August 16, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Contest Promotions v. City and County of San Francisco, providing its first official guidance on the question of whether Reed v. Town of Gilbert controls the regulation of commercial speech as well as noncommercial speech. In this blog post, MRSC Legal Consultant Robert Sepler gives an overview of this case.

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June 2017 Land Use Case Law Update Recap

June 2017 Land Use Case Law Update Recap

June 29, 2017 by Jill Dvorkin
Category: Court Decisions, AGO Opinions and Regulations , Land Use Administration

On June 15, Phil Olbrechts and Jill Dvorkin presented the first of two annual Land Use Case Law Update webinars for 2017. In this blog post, Jill Dvorkin provides a brief recap of the cases covered in the webinar, as well as a summary of another case decided since the webinar.

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The Supreme Court Narrowly Construes the “Minimum-Value” Executive Session Exception to the OPMA

The Supreme Court Narrowly Construes the “Minimum-Value” Executive Session Exception to the OPMA

June 12, 2017 by Ramsey Ramerman
Category: Court Decisions, AGO Opinions and Regulations , Open Public Meetings Act , Open Government Advisor

On June 8, the Washington Supreme Court issued its opinion in Columbia Riverkeepers v. Port of Vancouver, adopting a very narrow interpretation of the executive session “exception” to the OPMA for discussion about the sale or lease of real estate (the “minimum-value exception”). In this blog post, guest author Ramsey Ramerman breaks down the case. 

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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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Further Guidance on Records Requests for “Commercial Purposes”

Further Guidance on Records Requests for “Commercial Purposes”

February 7, 2017 by Adrian Urquhart Winder
Category: Court Decisions, AGO Opinions and Regulations , Open Government Advisor , Public Records Act

Public records for "Commercial Purposes"? The Washington Court of Appeals recently addressed another dispute and rejected a union's constitutional privacy argument. 

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When Must a Private Entity Comply with the PRA?

When Must a Private Entity Comply with the PRA?

January 30, 2017 by Jim Doherty
Category: Court Decisions, AGO Opinions and Regulations , Public Records Act

Many public agencies in the State of Washington enter into contracts with private entities to provide public services. When private entities begin performing public services by contract, they inevitably begin to create records. The question this blog post will explore is: When are such records “public records” subject to production under the Public Records Act (PRA)?

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Vested Rights and the Hirst Decision

Vested Rights and the Hirst Decision

January 23, 2017 by Neil Caulkins
Category: Court Decisions, AGO Opinions and Regulations , Vested Rights

This is the fifth post of a five-part series discussing the Washington Supreme Court’s decision in Whatcom County v. Hirst. This post explores whether one can have a vested right to use a permit-exempt well as the water source for development (subdivision or building permit).

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Agencies Must Provide a “Reasonable Time Estimate” in their 5-day Response, Even When Seeking Clarification.

Agencies Must Provide a “Reasonable Time Estimate” in their 5-day Response, Even When Seeking Clarification.

January 20, 2017 by Ramsey Ramerman
Category: Court Decisions, AGO Opinions and Regulations , Open Government Advisor , Public Records Act

In this blog post, guest author Ramsey Ramerman provides an overview of the Washington Court of Appeals' recent decision in Hikel v. City of Lynnwood, where the court held that a reasonable time estimate is always required with an agency's response to a PRA request that does not fully resolve the request, even when the agency seeks clarification that may affect that time estimate.

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What Can Be Done about “Zombie” Properties?

What Can Be Done about “Zombie” Properties?

January 17, 2017 by Oskar Rey
Category: Court Decisions, AGO Opinions and Regulations , Property Nuisances

The Washington Supreme Court's decision in Jordan v. Nationstar Mortgage LLC significantly impacts the ability of local government to take action with respect to vacant or "zombie" properties. This blog post discusses this impact as well as some options for addressing zombie properties.

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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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Washington Supreme Court Issues Significant Vesting Decision

Washington Supreme Court Issues Significant Vesting Decision

January 12, 2017 by Jill Dvorkin
Category: Court Decisions, AGO Opinions and Regulations , Vested Rights

On December 29, the Washington Supreme Court issued Snohomish County, et al. v. Pollution Control Hearings Bd., a significant decision interpreting the statutory vested rights doctrine. This blog posts gives an overview of this decision and discusses its effect on local governments.

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Private Email Accounts but Public Records

Private Email Accounts but Public Records

January 5, 2017 by P. Stephen DiJulio and Philip Paine
Category: Court Decisions, AGO Opinions and Regulations , Open Government Advisor , Council-Commission Advisor , Public Records Act

This post looks at the recent Washington State Court of Appeals ruling that held the First and Fourth Amendments of the United States Constitution and Article I, Section 7 of the Washington State Constitution do not afford an individual privacy interest in public records contained in an elected official’s private email account.

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Land Use Case Law Update Recap

Land Use Case Law Update Recap

December 21, 2016 by Jill Dvorkin
Category: Court Decisions, AGO Opinions and Regulations , Land Use Administration

In our recent Land Use Case Law Update webinar, Phil Olbrechts and Jill Dvorkin discussed key land use cases decided, for the most part, within the past six months. In this blog post, I will briefly recap the cases we covered during the webinar.

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PRA Restriction on Providing Lists of Individuals for Commercial Purposes – More Updates

PRA Restriction on Providing Lists of Individuals for Commercial Purposes – More Updates

November 17, 2016 by Nancy Krier
Category: Court Decisions, AGO Opinions and Regulations , Open Government Advisor , Public Records Act

The commercial purpose restriction in the PRA restricts agencies from providing lists of individuals for a commercial purpose. Open Government Advisor Nancy Krier discusses the April 2016 SEIU 775 case, and several developments that have happened since then, that impact the commercial purpose restriction.

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The Effect of Hirst on Non-GMA Counties and Issues Other Than Water

The Effect of Hirst on Non-GMA Counties and Issues Other Than Water

November 10, 2016 by Neil Caulkins
Category: Water Resources , Court Decisions, AGO Opinions and Regulations

This is the fourth post of a five-part series discussing the Washington Supreme Court’s decision in Whatcom County v. Hirst. This post considers two additional questions: (1) the potential impact of the Hirst decision on counties that do not plan under the GMA; and (2) whether Hirst has application to issues other than water.

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What is a “Determination of Water Availability” Under Hirst?

What is a “Determination of Water Availability” Under Hirst?

November 3, 2016 by Neil Caulkins
Category: Water Resources , Court Decisions, AGO Opinions and Regulations

This is the third post of a five-part series discussing the Washington Supreme Court’s decision in Whatcom County v. Hirst. In Hirst, the Washington Supreme Court made clear that counties have the responsibility under the Growth Management Act to make determinations of water availability for development permit approval. This post discusses what exactly is a “determination of availability” and how it is different than a “determination of adequacy” under chapter 19.27 RCW.

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Approaching Your County’s Post Hirst Water Resource Responsibilities

Approaching Your County’s Post Hirst Water Resource Responsibilities

October 31, 2016 by Neil Caulkins
Category: Water Resources , Court Decisions, AGO Opinions and Regulations

This is the second post of a five-part series discussing the Washington Supreme Court’s decision in Whatcom County v. Hirst. This post provides an overview of the water resource responsibilities and options that GMA counties now have in light of the Hirst decision. 

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New Ruling Affirms GMA Counties’ Big Role in Water Resource Planning

New Ruling Affirms GMA Counties’ Big Role in Water Resource Planning

October 27, 2016 by Neil Caulkins
Category: Water Resources , Court Decisions, AGO Opinions and Regulations

This is the first post of a five-part series discussing the Washington Supreme Court’s decision in Whatcom County v. Hirst. This post provides a general overview of the decision, which held that counties have the responsibility under the GMA to make determinations of water availability for development permit approval and cannot defer to Ecology or rely upon the decision of others when making these determinations.
 

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Addressing Religious Speech in the Workplace

Addressing Religious Speech in the Workplace

October 14, 2016 by Oskar Rey
Category: Court Decisions, AGO Opinions and Regulations

There may have been a time when politics and religion were not discussed in polite company, but those days have passed. Local governments now face challenges in finding a balance between the rights of employees and officials to express their views and the statutory and constitutional constraints under which local agencies operate. This blog post will analyze a recent Washington case that addressed religious speech in the workplace.

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Washington Supreme Court Upholds Per Page Penalties Under the Public Records Act

Washington Supreme Court Upholds Per Page Penalties Under the Public Records Act

March 31, 2016 by Joe Levan
Category: Court Decisions, AGO Opinions and Regulations , Public Records Act

In a recently issued 5-4 decision, the Washington Supreme Court, in Wade’s Eastside Gun Shop, Inc. v. Department of Labor & Industries, interpreted the Public Records Act (PRA) in a manner that provides very broad discretion to courts to impose appropriate penalties for illegally withholding public records. According to the four dissenting justices (see below), that discretion is now so broad that it is, arguably, without limit. The Supreme Court upheld the trial court’s imposition of per page penalties against the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries (L&I), which amounted to penalties of over a half a million dollars. This decision is likely to have far-reaching implications.

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Supreme Court Lets Stand King County Metro Bus Ad Rejection

Supreme Court Lets Stand King County Metro Bus Ad Rejection

March 11, 2016 by Bob Meinig
Category: Court Decisions, AGO Opinions and Regulations


You may have seen the news that, on March 7, 2016, the US Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal of a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision, AFDI v. King County, refusing to enjoin King County Metro’s 2013 rejection of an ad, titled “Faces of Global Terrorism,” for display on its buses. Metro had concluded that the ad failed to meet its advertising guidelines, and the plaintiff American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI) sought to overturn Metro’s decision on free speech grounds. This action by the Court will likely be significant for local governments as they consider the extent to which they can enact and enforce similar restrictions.

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New PRA Decision: Good Procedure Nets Good Result

New PRA Decision: Good Procedure Nets Good Result

December 2, 2015 by Jim Doherty
Category: Court Decisions, AGO Opinions and Regulations , Public Records Act

The recent court of appeals decision in Benton County v. Zink holds a number of lessons to be learned regarding procedures for dealing with electronic records and developing an effective strategy for dealing with a litigious requestor.

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Courts in the Ninth Circuit Decline to Extend Reed v. Town of Gilbert to Commercial Speech

Courts in the Ninth Circuit Decline to Extend Reed v. Town of Gilbert to Commercial Speech

October 23, 2015 by Robert Sepler
Category: Court Decisions, AGO Opinions and Regulations , Sign Control

After the U.S. Supreme Court released its decision in Reed v. Town of Gilbert four months ago striking down that Arizona town’s sign code as being unconstitutionally content-based, some commentators, including one from The New York Times, were quick to raise the alarm that the decision would have consequences far beyond local sign codes. Although the decision has undoubtedly created uncertainty, it has not yet led to any such consequences so far in the Ninth Circuit, the federal circuit that includes Washington State.   

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Lack of “Serious Independent Analysis" of Exemptions Can Result in Finding of Bad Faith Under PRA

Lack of “Serious Independent Analysis" of Exemptions Can Result in Finding of Bad Faith Under PRA

September 29, 2015 by P. Stephen DiJulio
Category: Court Decisions, AGO Opinions and Regulations , Open Government Advisor , Public Records Act

In Adams v. Washington State Department of Corrections, Division II of the Court of Appeals held that for purposes of penalty calculation for agencies that do not comply with public records request (PRA) under RCW 42.56.565(1), an agency will be ...

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The PRA Applies to Work-Related Texting on a Personal Cell Phone

The PRA Applies to Work-Related Texting on a Personal Cell Phone

August 28, 2015 by Joe Levan
Category: Court Decisions, AGO Opinions and Regulations , Public Records Act

In a highly anticipated decision on the Public Records Act (PRA), the Washington Supreme Court on August 27, 2015 issued its opinion in Nissen v. Pierce County. The court, in a unanimous decision that includes some revelations, held that “text messages sent and received by a public employee in the employee’s official capacity are public records of the employer, even if the employee uses a private cell phone.”

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Court Clarifies How the PRA Can Apply to Contractor Records

Court Clarifies How the PRA Can Apply to Contractor Records

July 22, 2015 by Joe Levan
Category: Court Decisions, AGO Opinions and Regulations , Public Records Act

A recent Washington State Court of Appeals decision, Cedar Grove Composting, Inc. v. City of Marysville clarified the extent to which contractor records can be subject to the Public Records Act (PRA).

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US Supreme Court Issues Significant Sign Code Decision

US Supreme Court Issues Significant Sign Code Decision

June 24, 2015 by Maurice King
Category: Court Decisions, AGO Opinions and Regulations , Sign Control

On June 18, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously that an Arizona town’s sign code placed unconstitutional content-based restrictions on speech, in violation of the First Amendment. The court’s decision in Reed v, Town of Gilbert almost certainly places many sign ordinances throughout the state, and the country, on questionable legal footing.
 

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Court of Appeals Reverses Large Public Records Act Penalty Imposed on University of Washington

Court of Appeals Reverses Large Public Records Act Penalty Imposed on University of Washington

March 24, 2015 by Adrian Urquhart Winder
Category: Court Decisions, AGO Opinions and Regulations , Open Government Advisor , Public Records Act

In Bichindaritz v. University of Washington, Division One of the Court of Appeals reversed a $723,290.50 penalty and $102,958.03 attorney fee award for violations of the Public Records Act by the Univers...

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Second Superior Court Ruling Upholds City Pot Ban, and Other Pot News

Second Superior Court Ruling Upholds City Pot Ban, and Other Pot News

October 22, 2014 by Bob Meinig
Category: Court Decisions, AGO Opinions and Regulations , Recreational and Medical Marijuana

A Chelan County Superior Court judge issued a ruling last week that upheld the City of Wenatchee’s moratorium on the issuance of permits for the production and sale of marijuana and its business licensing provision, as applied to marijuana businesses, that licenses may not be issued for activities that are unlawful under federal law. This ruling follows on the heels of a similar ruling in August..

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Superior Court Decision on Fife Pot Ban

September 2, 2014 by Jim Doherty
Category: Court Decisions, AGO Opinions and Regulations , Recreational and Medical Marijuana

On Friday, August 29th, the Pierce County Superior Court issued an oral ruling, after the attorneys made their arguments, that the City of Fife has the authority to ban all  marijuana businesses. In essence, the judge agreed with the basic analysis given by the Attorney General in AGO 2014 No. 2 in January.
Because the court ruled in the city's favor on this local option issue, there was no...

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