MRSC Insight Blog
Posts for December 2014
The end of the year provides an opportunity to look back over Public Records Act (PRA) legislative and case law developments from 2014. Here are some key points that I think are noteworthy for Washington local governments.
This fall I had the privilege of working with planning directors from across the state at their 25th annual conference in Chelan, Washington. Our focus was on keeping things on track when folks are rude, crude or confused, particularly during public comment sessions.
The year 2015 will be the 25th anniversary of the adoption of Washington State's Growth Management Act (GMA). GMA may be the most important and least understood of state laws from the perspective of today's state, county and city elected officials. Few of them were in office in the 1980's, and therefore understandably lack first-hand knowledge of the serious problems that prompted the 1990 legislature to pass the Act. A 2013 survey of city elected officials revealed that almost none of them had ever received training on the what, why, and how of land use policy-making, much less the GMA.
Sometimes situations and issues arise affecting more than one county, such that it would be helpful for the legislative bodies of those counties to meet jointly, which would require one of the bodies to meet outside its county. A 2014 Attorney General Opinion addresses this issue.
When and how must budget amendments be adopted, and how does this overlap with the "open period? The budget amendment deadline is December 31, but this can create complications with the "open period" in early January.
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.
Managing risk for your agency doesn’t always require sophisticated or expensive systems or extra staff resources. Sometimes a few simple, low cost, common sense procedures can be implemented that protect your organization from liability.