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MRSC Insight Blog

Posts for Court Decisions and AGO Opinions

Volunteer drops off food at a church based food pantry

Best Practices When Contracting With Faith-Based Organizations

After the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Kennedy v. Bremerton School District, local agencies may want to review their contracting policies with respect to faith-based organizations. But, in the words of Douglas Adams’s Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, “Don’t Panic!”

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Female colleagues, one wearing a hijab, working at computer desk

New Supreme Court Ruling Clarifies Undue Hardship Standard, Makes It Harder to Prove

The U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled on a religious accommodation claim in the case of Gross v. DeJoy, rejecting the prior standard that employers could deny a requested accommodation if the cost would be “more than de minimis."

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New Elections Laws Passed in 2023

The state legislature adopted several new election laws this year regarding the candidate filing period, voter registration, records of future voters under the age of 18, and the Washington Voting Rights Act.

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Rights and Limits on Filming in Public Facilities

First Amendment Audits, when a person records an interaction with a government official or staff member, can be uncomfortable at best, and possibly even veer into harassment. How can an agency ensure the safety of staff without violating the First Amendment Rights of the auditor?

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Several emergency vehicles are parked on a neighborhood street

A Duty to All is a Duty to No One: Understanding the Public Duty Doctrine

In Norg v. City of Seattle, the Washington Supreme Court issued a decision that has a major impact on the public duty doctrine, and by extension, government tort liability.

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Unpopular but Necessary: What Exactly Is an Essential Public Facility?

What is an essential public facility under the Growth Management Act? An airport? A transit system? A homeless shelter? What facilities can be defined as essential for the public is at the heart of a recent Washington Court of Appeals case.

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New Ninth Circuit Ruling Addresses Anti-Camping Ordinances

Last month, the federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a decision that provides clarification and guidance to local governments on camping bans and ordinances. 

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U.S. Supreme Court Upholds Censuring Members of a Governing Body

A recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling supports the ability of a governing body to censure one of its members if that person's action obstructs or hinders the body's ability to perform its day-to-day functions. 

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Church and State: U.S. Supreme Court Makes Changes to Establishment Clause Analysis

In light of the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Kennedy v. Bremerton School District, what can a local government do to ensure that its policies are written and applied in a manner that does not discriminate based on an employee’s religious belief?

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Speaking Versus Regulating — The Government Speech Doctrine

Government speech is analyzed differently by the courts than government regulation of the speech of others. This blog looks at government speech case law, including the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision in Shurtleff v. City of Boston.

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Supreme Court Issues First Opinions on Federal COVID-19 Vaccination Requirements

The U.S. Supreme Court has temporarily stopped the implementation and enforcement of a federal rule calling for large U.S. employers to require employees be vaccinated against COVID-19. Following the decision, OSHA withdrew the proposed rule.

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New Ruling Addresses Adverse Possession of Public Property

MRSC occasionally receives inquiries on whether adverse possession applies to public property. A recent Washington Court of Appeals case, Michel v. City of Seattle, provides useful clarification of these standards.

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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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Seven Hills, LLC v. Chelan County: When Does a Nonconforming Use Come into Existence?

This blog reviews the recent state Supreme Court decision in Seven Hills LLC v. Chelan County, which looked at whether a marijuana company established its business before the county placed a moratorium on marijuana production.

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City of Seattle v. Long: Vehicle Homestead Rights and Excessive Fines

Seattle v. Long challenged long-held practices regarding parking enforcement. The Washington Supreme Court finally issued its ruling on the case, expanding the circumstances under which fines may be challenged as excessive and clarifying how homestead rights apply to vehicles. 

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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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Washington Supreme Court Finds I-976 Unconstitutional

This blog provides a brief overview of a recent Washington Supreme Court ruling striking down I-976.

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The 9th Circuit Backs the FCC in Small Wireless Appeal

This post covers a recent ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upholding Federal Communications Commission Orders preempting many aspects of local government regulation of small wireless facilities.

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New Ruling Provides Guidance on “Specific Intelligence”

This blog discusses the recent ruling in West v. City of Tacoma, which addresses what an agency needs to prove when it claims the Public Records Act’s exemption for “specific intelligence information."

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Worker reading a file stands in front of stacked file boxes.

Understanding When It’s Over: Administrative Procedures and the PRA

This blog post summarizes Kilduff v. San Juan County and suggests best practices for agency administrative procedures concerning public records searches. 

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