Public wants transparency, so shouldn’t Inslee veto SEIU giveaway bill?

The average voter, I think it’s fair to say, didn’t care much for the Legislature’s public records bill. A good chunk of Olympia took a gamble that voters wouldn’t care about a “boring topic” like open government. They bet wrong.

The public doesn’t want to see governing conducted in secret. They don’t want legislation passed with as little debate and public process as possible. And they don’t want more functions of government walled off from public accountability.

Given all that, shouldn’t Gov. Inslee veto the SEIU giveaway bill?

Bill moves admin beyond public records reach
After all, by inventing a new outside employer for home care workers, legislative Democrats are choosing to move the administration of this government work to an entity not subject to public disclosure.

And just like the much-derided public records bill, SB 6199 was passed with a strange reticence from aye-voting lawmakers. Usually legislators love to wax philosophical about the many virtues of their bills. In these two cases, they seem determined to keep their heads down, their mouths shut, and just pass the things.

Isn’t that in and of itself a bad sign? When lawmakers say as little as possible about a bill, it suggests they’re not proud to head back to their districts and explain that vote. Likewise when they strangle debate to prevent opponents from speaking their piece. That happened with the public records bill and the SEIU giveaway bill.

Sen. Michael Baumgartner (R-Spokane) – who had the good sense to be one of the few legislators who voted no on the public records bill – notes that it’s not just lawmakers who clammed up about SB 6199:

“Backers of the bill have also been less than transparent, with SEIU frequently refusing to comment about the legislation to the news media. Legislative Democrats have largely avoided even trying to defend the bill publicly and moved to censor speech and materials by Republicans questioning motivations behind the bill.”

We have a bill here that is anti-transparency, that takes rights away from workers, and costs the state more money for no further benefit. Sounds pretty veto-worthy to me.

Of course, Governor Inslee isn’t going to veto this bill. He’s been working with SEIU since before the Harris case was even decided, trying to work around the ruling and keep the dues money flowing from home care workers to SEIU. After doing the bidding of his allies, he’s not going to turn around and veto this bill.

But he should.
-Rob McKenna

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Rob McKenna
Rob served two terms as Washington’s Attorney General, from 2005 to 2013. He successfully argued three cases before the U.S. Supreme Court and negotiated three of the largest consumer financial protection settlements in national history, all involving mortgage lending and servicing. He is a recognized leader in the development of consumer protections on the internet, in data protection and privacy regulation.