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MRSC Insight Blog


Posts for Flannary Collins

Are You Up-to-Date on the Open Public Meetings Act? Test Your Knowledge

Are You Up-to-Date on the Open Public Meetings Act? Test Your Knowledge

Since 2020, the Open Public Meetings Act has gone through significant changes, requiring local government staff and elected officials to stay abreast of the changes. How confident are you in your OPMA knowledge?

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Privacy v. Security: Use of Security Cameras on Government Property

Privacy v. Security: Use of Security Cameras on Government Property

While governmental use of security cameras can be a useful tool, agencies should take care to adopt a policy that outlines the precise ways in which the cameras will be used and how the recordings will be managed. 

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Governor Inslee Ends the COVID-19 Emergency

Governor Inslee Ends the COVID-19 Emergency

The governor officially terminated all remaining proclamations effective at 11:59 PM on October 31. The new documents confirm what we wrote previously, but this article provides a few small clarifications regarding vaccination requirements, face masks, and reporting/notification.

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Washington’s COVID-19 State of Emergency Ends October 31: What Does this Mean for Local Governments?

Washington’s COVID-19 State of Emergency Ends October 31: What Does this Mean for Local Governments?

Washington's state of emergency and remaining emergency proclamations related to the COVID-19 pandemic are scheduled to be lifted on October 31, 2022. What impact will this have on open public meetings, vaccine mandates, and requirements related to masking and disease tracking?  

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Regulating Firearms in Washington State

Regulating Firearms in Washington State

Washington State mostly preempts the field of firearm regulation under state law but there are a handful of areas in which local governments can adopt measures to regulate the sale, possession, use, and storage of firearms within their jurisdictions.

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Recruiting for Local Government Positions

Recruiting for Local Government Positions

Many employers are finding employee recruitment challenging. This blog explores some out-of-the-box approaches to attracting new talent, from signing and referral bonuses, telecommute options and other incentives, as well as what to consider if you hire out-of-state staff. 

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The OPMA Gets an Update from the Legislature

The OPMA Gets an Update from the Legislature

The 2022 legislative session made changes to the Open Public Meetings Act, some of which take effect immediately and others not until June. This blog looks at new requirements about physical location, special meeting notice, and public comment and clarifies the effective dates.

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State Puts WA Cares on Hold for Now

State Puts WA Cares on Hold for Now

With new legislation, the WA Cares long-term care insurance program (and the premiums employers were to collect from employees) has been put on hold. This blog looks at the steps local government employers should take at this time.

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Appeals Court Finds Non-Exempt Workers Must be Paid for All Required Out-of-Town Travel Time

Appeals Court Finds Non-Exempt Workers Must be Paid for All Required Out-of-Town Travel Time

A recent ruling in Port of Tacoma v. Sacks defines what is considered compensable hours when an employee travels for a work-related purpose.

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An Update on the Long-Term Care Trust Act

An Update on the Long-Term Care Trust Act

As of January 2022, employees will begin paying into the state's long-term care insurance benefit, but local governments still have a lot of questions, such as how to handle premiums and program eligibility.

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COVID-19 Vaccination Requirements in the Local Government Workplace

COVID-19 Vaccination Requirements in the Local Government Workplace

This blog post looks at the legal authority for government employers to require employees to be vaccinated, as well as the main issues to consider before establishing a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination program.

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An Overview of New Personnel-Related Bills Adopted in the 2021 Regular Legislative Session

An Overview of New Personnel-Related Bills Adopted in the 2021 Regular Legislative Session

This blog provides an overview of leave-related bills as well as a new state holiday passed during the 2021 regular legislative session. 

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Vaccine Incentive Policies in the Local Government Workplace

Vaccine Incentive Policies in the Local Government Workplace

This blog looks at considerations around vaccine incentive policies in the local government workplace.

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The Status of Drug Possession in Washington State

The Status of Drug Possession in Washington State

This blog provides an overview of the recent state supreme court decision in State v. Blake, which found that Washington’s strict liability drug possession statute was unconstitutional.  

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Local Government Contracting and Agreements for Non-Public Works Projects

Local Government Contracting and Agreements for Non-Public Works Projects

This blog explores the options available for local government contracting and agreements related to non-public woks projects. 

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Possession and Carrying of Firearms in Washington State: What’s Allowed?

Possession and Carrying of Firearms in Washington State: What’s Allowed?

This blog provides a general overview of firearm regulation in Washington State.

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New Regulations for the Use of Facial Recognition Technology

New Regulations for the Use of Facial Recognition Technology

The purpose of this blog post is to highlight the requirements in ESSB 6280, Washington State's new law regulating the use of facial technology software. 

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Using Electronic Signatures During Emergencies

Using Electronic Signatures During Emergencies

This blog post looks at how an agency can use electronic rather than ink signatures to process documents and keep its operations going, even in the event of an emergency. 

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Tips for Avoiding OPMA Violations

Tips for Avoiding OPMA Violations

This blog post looks at how local governments can avoid violating the Open Public Meetings Act — using questions recently submitted by Washington cites, counties, and special purpose districts. 

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Supreme Court Rules Individual State Legislators Are Subject to the PRA

Supreme Court Rules Individual State Legislators Are Subject to the PRA

This blog post provides an overview of the recent Washington Supreme Court ruling addressing whether individual state legislators are subject to the Public Records Act.

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New Developments in PRA Land

New Developments in PRA Land

This blog post provides an overview of two recent Washington State Supreme Court cases that involved the Public Records Act and offers some key takeaways for local governments to consider. 

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New Ruling Addresses the Extent of the "Public Records" Definition

New Ruling Addresses the Extent of the "Public Records" Definition

A new decision from the Washington State Supreme Court addresses the extent of the “Public Records” definition, which now provides more clarity for local governments. 

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Another Legislative Session, Another Round of PRA Changes

Another Legislative Session, Another Round of PRA Changes

This blog reviews some of the public records bills affecting local governments from the 2019 legislative session.

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The Open Public Meetings Act Pop Quiz

The Open Public Meetings Act Pop Quiz

This pop quiz will help boost your Open Public Meetings Act (OPMA) knowledge and remind you about potential OPMA pitfalls.

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Washington Women Led the Way: National Women’s Suffrage Centennial 2020

Washington Women Led the Way: National Women’s Suffrage Centennial 2020

The Governor’s Women’s Commission has partnered with the Washington State Historical Society and the Women’s History Consortium to create a campaign commemorating the historical achievement of granting women the right to vote in Washington State in 1910.

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Banning Plastic Straws and Utensils

Banning Plastic Straws and Utensils

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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New Bills Addressing Gender Discrimination and Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

New Bills Addressing Gender Discrimination and Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

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

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

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

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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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

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

​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.

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PRA Case Law Round Up for 2016

PRA Case Law Round Up for 2016

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

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

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

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

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

This blog provides answers to a number of interesting questions on disclosure of police records.

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New PRA Exemption for Body Camera Recordings

New PRA Exemption for Body Camera Recordings

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?

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

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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New Records Retention Guidance for Sensitive Authentication Data

New Records Retention Guidance for Sensitive Authentication Data

The Local Government Common Records Retention Schedule (CORE) has a new category concerning destruction of Sensitive Authentication Data obtained during financial transactions, such as credit card verification codes.

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Police Body Cameras: Privacy Implications and Other Considerations

Police Body Cameras: Privacy Implications and Other Considerations

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?

Can local governments allow employees and members of the public to charge their personal electric vehicles without a fee or provide other electric charging benefits?

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Voting courtesy of thomas.

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

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

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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