Calling all advocates for open government.
You know who you are. Every newspaper editorial board in the state. Every right-wing corporate-funded think tank. Attorney General Rob McKenna. The Washington Coalition for Open Government (upon which I once served as a board member). All you government gadflies with sincere, and sometimes not-so-sincere, motives.
Here’s your chance to avoid the stain of hypocrisy, and decry an egregious abuse of open government principles.
Behind closed doors, Gov. Chris Gregoire and legislative leaders of both parties have negotiated what they call “the biggest reform of the workers’ compensation system in its 100-year history.” HB 2123 was made publicly available for the first time a couple of hours ago (around noontime on Monday) and the House plans to vote on it this afternoon and the Senate tonight. No 24-hours’ notice. No public hearing. No nothing, except the governor’s vague 2-page policy brief on what she acknowledges is an extremely complex issue, and its billing as “The Reform of the Century.”
This is a horrible abuse of open government and the public process.
Some who have had this brought to their attention have claimed that the contentious proposal for lump-sum settlements and the other aspects of this backroom deal have previously been heard. They are wrong. The governor’s brand-new “structured settlements” idea, the brand-new concept of tying claim amounts to the state’s average wage as opposed to a percentage of the injured worker’s wage, and other elements of this bill have never before been vetted in public.
And by the time you read this, legislators will likely have already voted on it.
This is government at its worst. Whether or not you view this legislation to be horrible public policy — I clearly do — if you claim to care about public participation in state government and the legislative process, but do not object to this abuse of that process, then you have just lost your credibility on the subject.
In anticipation of hearing all of you strongly speak out against what is happening in Olympia today, I’ll begin holding my breath…. now.
David Groves is Editor of The Stand.