The Washington Coalition for Open Government presented Sen. Jim Honeyford with its Key Award today for his efforts to improve legislative transparency this past session.

I had the privilege of providing Sen. Honeyford with the Key Award on behalf of the Coalition on the floor of the state Senate this morning. Here is a copy of my prepared remarks:

“Good morning.

I am Jason Mercier, past Treasurer of Washington Coalition for Open Government and current board member. I am also Director of the Center for Government Reform at the Washington Policy Center. The Coalition is an independent, non-partisan, non-profit organization dedicated to defending and expanding government transparency and accountability in our state. We accomplish this through a variety of educational programs, by interventions in the legislature and the courts, and by encouraging support for open government through several different award programs including our ‘Key Award.’

The ‘Key’ is symbolic of unlocking file cabinets of records and the doors of closed meetings, and also of the key contributions made by the recipients of the award in furthering the cause of open government in Washington.

Today I am pleased to present the Key Award to state senator Jim Honeyford of Sunnyside in recognition of his efforts to make the working of the Washington Legislature more transparent to citizens.

Honeyford, who has represented the 15th Legislative District in central Washington since 1995, has been a vocal critic of efforts by some in the legislative leadership to obscure the lawmaking process from the public. The unsavory practices include holding public hearings on bills without adequate notice, holding hearings on bills before they receive their first reading on the floor, holding hearings on bills with the text of the bill not available to the public prior to the hearing, voting on bills in committee the same day as their hearing, and holding hearings on bills that aren’t even on the committee agenda. Fed up with these abuses during the 2011 session, Honeyford left a hearing in protest after a bill that wasn’t on the agenda was considered by a committee.

In remarks he prepared for The Seattle Times regarding that protest, Sen. Honeyford said, ‘Washingtonians deserve better, which means proper notice of the time, location and topic of public hearings. That’s the only way citizens will have a meaningful opportunity to review legislation, understand its effects and communicate with their legislators before votes are taken.’

The Washington Coalition for Open Government and the Washington Policy Center agree wholeheartedly. The board of directors and members of the Coalition congratulate Sen. Honeyford, and encourage others to follow his example.”

Additional Information
Senators send Majority Leader letter about transparency abuses
Examples of legislative transparency good and bad
Legislature keeps public out by flouting own transparency rules
Sunshine Week: “Legislative Transparency Act”
Chopp waives 5-day notice requirement for budget hearing


[Reprinted from the Washington Policy Center blog]