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MRSC Insight Blog

Posts for Sarah Doar

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Emojis in Public Agency Communication: Miscommunications and Records Ramifications 😱

Emojis may make it easy to respond quickly to professional correspondence, but public agency staff and elected officials should think twice before giving a thumbs up to that email or Teams post.

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Best Laid Plans: Following the OPMA When Adjourning or Canceling a Public Meeting

Sometimes a public meeting cannot occur at the scheduled time. When unforeseen circumstances intervene, procedures outlined in the Open Public Meetings Act allow an agency to adjourn any type of public meeting to a later time and place. Advance cancellation is also allowed.

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2023 Public Records Legislative Changes — School and Election Records

County election officials and school districts will be pleased to learn about new public records changes: one exempts voted ballots and another exempts the personal information of students in any records pertaining to the student.

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New PRA Exemption Available to Protect Employee Safety

New in 2023, ESHB 1533 amends the Public Records Act to exempt from disclosure certain information on employees (and dependents) who are survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, harassment, or stalking or who are enrolled in the state's Address Confidentiality Program.

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Tackling the Big Ones: Strategies for Broad Records Requests

Big public records requests can put a strain on agency resources, but records staff can put a few practices in place to help the process become more manageable.

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Social Media Policy Questions for Local Governments to Answer

Establishing effective social media policies requires your agency consider a number of questions, from what is the communications-related goal of using these tools to how the agency might address personal use of social media sites by employees and elected officials. 

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Private Lives of Public Employees: The PRA Implications of Working for the Government

New public employees are often surprised by what is subject to public disclosure under Washington’s Public Records Act and should consider the possibility that their private communications on digital platforms, like email and social media, may become very public.

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New Technology, Same Old Open Government Challenges

Software such as Microsoft Teams can help to facilitate communication in a workplace, but the use of such tools is tricky for governing bodies whose meetings must be open to the public and whose communications should be easily searchable if a public records request arises.

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Data as Records: PRA Disclosure of Database Information

Fulfilling a public records request that seeks information contained in a database can be challenging. Local government staff must understand they have an obligation to produce data within a database but must come up with a practical method to do so. 

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2022 Court Legislation Impacting Local Governments

A few bills from the 2022 Regular Legislative Session deal with courts in a manner that will impact local governments, including giving courts more flexibility to not impose certain legal financial obligations or to waive those obligations.  

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Responding to Sea Level Rise: A Multijurisdictional Approach to Protecting Downtown Olympia

With a history of flooding and concerns about sea level rise due to climate change, Olympia has teamed up with other jurisdictions to address this potential challenge and safeguard vital services.

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2022 Legislative Updates to Personnel Laws — Salary and Leave

New legislation requires many employers to include wage and benefit information in all job postings and makes changes to the state's Paid Family and Medical Leave program.

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Resolving Financial Conflicts of Interest: Is Abstaining from Voting Enough?

When a governing body votes on contracts, it's important that the individual members not have a conflict of interest in it being awarded to a specific firm. Is it enough for an individual to abstain from voting or should the governing body avoid any chance a conflict may arise?

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You Can’t Ask That! Pop Quiz on Preemployment Inquiries

Do you know what questions you can and cannot ask job applicants in Washington State? Let’s find out with this pop quiz! 

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Face Coverings and Vaccine Requirements: Where Things Stand as of August 23, 2021

This blog covers the latest state-issued face mask requirements, new vaccination requirements for education/childcare staff (including youth parks and recreation programs), and clarifications to existing provisions such as vaccine requirements for law enforcement and contractors.

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Recent Developments in Washington Public Records — June 2021

This blog reviews recent developments in the law that impacts the disclosure of public records.

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Public Records Act Reports Due July 1, 2021

Any public agency that spends over $100,000 in activities associated with managing public records and responding to public records requests will need to file a report on these activities with the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Committee by July 1, 2021. 

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Troublesome Behavior: Defending Against Harassment of Public Officials and Employees

This blog explores strategies for dealing with members of the public who cross the line into harassing elected officials or local government staff.

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Taking the Oath of Office During a Pandemic

This blog post considers the options available to administer and take the oath of office during a pandemic. 

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Allegations and the PRA: Navigating the Disclosure of Internal Investigations

This blog post looks at questions that might arise when a request is made for a public record pertaining to the internal investigation of an employee. 

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