ORIGINS OF THE PUBLIC RECORDS ACT ... A Look at the California Records Act and Its Exemptions (1974) 4 Golden Gate L Rev 203, 212. King County v. Sheehan (2002). For example, a surveillance video recorded on a school bus was not considered to be “personal information” maintained in a student file and was found to not be exempt under this provision. The Washington State Constitution grants the Governor a qualified gubernatorial privilege in response to a PRA request for policymaking communications with advisors. If the court records are sealed, those records, along with the social file and other related records, are confidential wherever held. Also in that case, the Court upheld the finding that redacting by “black boxes” overly obscured the non-exempt part of the videos and that pixelating faces was sufficient to prevent disclosure of identity. c.   Mediation Communications:  RCW 42.56.600. Times Mirror Co., 53 Cal. Exemptions. This exemption applies to various categories of information about taxpayers, including property, sales and excise tax, and incorporates the prohibitions in RCW 84.08.210, RCW 82.32.330, RCW 84.40.020, RCW 84.40.340, or a city B&O tax ordinance authorized under RCW 35.102.145. For example, Department of Corrections’  investigations of its medical staff’s conduct were held not to be “essential to effective law enforcement” and could not be exempted under the narrow application of RCW 42.56.240(1). [27], In September 2013 the legislature approved a constitutional amendment proposal,[28] authored by state senator Mark Leno, which would incorporate the Public Records Act into the California State Constitution. In RCW 42.56.335, law enforcement is restricted from obtaining records of customers of public utility districts or city utilities unless a written statement is provided stating the customer is suspected of committing a crime and that the records would help determine whether the suspicion is true. These “exemptions” are listed in the Public Records Act (RCW 42.56). 5: judicial review and remedies ch. As a general provision applying to any agency, this statute protects “valuable formulae, designs, drawings, and research” data for five years after obtained by the agency. PUBLIC RECORDS ACT – EXEMPTIONS, 2.1 Exemptions Permit Withholding or Redaction of Records. 458 (2007). Importantly, once the policies or recommendations are implemented, those recommendations, drafts, and opinions cease to be protected under this exemption. "[4] By promoting prompt public access to government records, the CPRA is "intended to safeguard the accountability of government to the public. See Beltran v. Dep't Social & Health Services (1999). “Other statutes” can be found in state laws, federal laws and regulations, and court rules and need not address the PRA. Law enforcement investigative reports on sex offenders that are transferred to the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs are exempt under RCW 42.56.240(3). Check Cashers and Sellers Licensing Applications: RCW 42.56.450, 10. Public records requests for these recordings must: Requesters must pay for the costs of redacting or obscuring the recording as needed to apply exemptions, with exceptions for persons involved in the incident, their attorneys, or where the recording is relevant to a criminal case or claim of denial of civil rights or if the request is made by certain Washington state commissions. The exemption applies only to documents that are part of the deliberative or policy-making process; records about implementing policy are not covered. Records provided by applicants for driver’s licenses or state identicards to prove identity and other factors is protected from disclosure, as is information that shows a person failed to register with the selective service. Jim Ewert, general counsel of the California Newspaper Publisher's Association, called the move "the worst assault on the public's right to know I have seen in my 18 years of doing this. An agency may freely disclose criminal history record information which pertains to an incident that occurred within the last twelve months for which a person is currently being processed by the criminal justice system. Spokane Police Guild v. Liquor Control Bd. For example, a study of the economic viability of hotels of various sizes, commissioned by a city attorney's office to determine the city's potential liability for a constitutional takings claim, qualified as work product and was insulated from disclosure. OFFICE HOURS: 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM Monday - Friday  Closed Weekends & State Holidays, Washington's Attorneys General - Past and Present, Submitting Your Motor Home Request for Arbitration, Homicide Investigation Tracking System (HITS), Combating Dark Money/Campaign Finance Unit, Student Loans/Debt Adjustment and Collection, Professional Coordination & Communication Work Group, File a Manufactured Housing Dispute Resolution Request Online, Benefits & Protections for Veterans & Military Personnel, Keep Washington Working Act FAQ for Law Enforcement, Public Records: The Attorney-Client Privilege and Work Product Doctrine – Guidance on Recurring Issues, Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), the Federal Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA, 20 U.S.C. In addition to the PRA exemption for records related to a controversy, information in records may be exempt from production if it constitutes privileged attorney-client communications. D. Several Exemptions Relate to Law Enforcement Information, 1. (a) and (b) Information about drug samples, legend drugs, or nonresident pharmacies obtained by the pharmacy quality assurance commission. See Predisik v. Spokane School District No. Information submitted to the statewide sex offender and notification program by persons asking to be notified about the release of a registered sex offender is exempt under RCW 42.56.240(8). Victim address information is also protected in applications for marriage licenses under RCW 26.04.175. (c) Records created for or collected and maintained by a hospital quality improvement, or peer review or quality improvement committee and reports of adverse health events.See the referenced statutes for more information on what is exempt and the opinions in. "[23] Several newspapers, including the Oakland Tribune,[24] Fresno Bee,[25] and Visalia Times-Delta,[26] published editorials against the changes. State v. Maxwell (1990). This section provides information on public records exemptions found in the Public Records Law, ORS 192.311 to 192.478, including the conditional exemptions found in ORS 192.345, the exemptions found in ORS 192.355, and the other miscellaneous exemptions. Child support enforcement records are confidential and may only be released with authorization of the parties or for defined program purposes, except that information can be disclosed to the parents about each other as needed to conduct the support enforcement action. “Test questions, scoring keys, and other examination data used to administer a license, employment, or academic examination” are exempt because disclosure would give an undue advantage to applicants for licenses or jobs. (e) Records of a provider obtained in an action under the impaired physician program. Dist. For a list of these exemptions, see the linked table prepared by the Office of the Code Reviser (see the list under “Schedule of Review,” then select the most recent year). Under RCW 50.13.020, information or records concerning an individual or employing unit obtained by the Department of Employment Security pursuant to the administration of its unemployment compensation program are private and confidential. However, the “personal information exemption” may apply to information within those emails that would be highly offensive and of no legitimate public interest if released. No. If an exemption applies to all or part of a record, the exempt content can be withheld or deleted (redacted). In accordance with this policy, public records are broadly defined to include "any writing containing information relating to the conduct of a public's business prepared, owned, used or retained by any state or local agency regardless of physical form or characteristic[.]" See generally WAC 44-14-06002(3). Agencies holding such sealed records can communicate with the juvenile respondent. 81  (2015). Times Mirror Co., 53 Cal. This exemption protects personal and financial information about borrowers held in the Department of Financial Institutions database that licensed lenders consult to determine if they are eligible to receive a small loan. Planned Parenthood v. Bloedow (2015). Records must be produced upon request unless a law “exempts or prohibits disclosure of specific information or records.”  RCW 42.56.070(1). 8. Public Records Act (PRA), Government Code section 6250-6276.48 . RCW 70.02.230-.260. When records are exempt in their entirety under a statute, the issue of whether an identified individual’s right to privacy would be violated need not be addressed. Disclaimer of public liability. In 2016, an exemption was added as RCW 42.56.360(4) to protect records of maternal mortality reviews conducted by panels appointed by the Department of Health. This Act qualifies as an “other statute” that may exempt or prohibit disclosure under RCW 42.56.070(1). Chapter 2 This privilege protects communications and advice between attorneys and their clients but not records prepared for reasons other than communicating with an attorney. Discrimination and Unfair Labor Practice Investigations: RCW 42.56.250(4) and (5). This provision exempts records related to a controversy involving the agency as a party in a lawsuit where records would not be available to other parties under the court rules. v. Locke (2005) (holding that release of designs needed to facilitate Boeing’s 787 project would allow private parties to benefit and interfere with the agency’s agreement with Boeing). In addition to the PRA exemption in RCW 42.56.230(1), the contents of records and communications for public assistance programs under Title 74 RCW are deemed privileged and confidential and exempted by RCW 74.04.060(1)(a). 5. Open government advocates and several California newspapers came out strongly against the measure. An agency may withhold specific records of completed investigations if their disclosure would jeopardize witnesses or discourage potential sources of information from coming forward in the future. Vehicle and boat registration or licensing records are exempt if they reveal that a person serves as an undercover law enforcement officer or conducts other types of confidential investigations. The Washington Supreme Court further addressed the issue of the extent to which unsubstantiated allegations can be disclosed in Bainbridge Island Police Guild v. City of Puyallup (2011). as amended and supplemented, shall be construed in favor of the public's right of access ; all government records shall be subject to public access unless exempt from such Voluntary production of information about power consumption does not violate the statute. RCW 42.56.320 also applies in this area to exempt: (1) financial disclosures by private vocational schools; (2) financial and commercial information relating to purchase and sale of tuition units; (3) identifiable information received for research or evaluation by the workforce training and education coordinating board; (4) nonpublic records received relating to gifts and grants; and (5) annual declarations of intent by parents who home-school children. RCW 70.02.290. Newman v. King County (1997); Ashley v. Washington State Public Disclosure Comm’n (1977). In addition, it requires that all agencies that are not health care facilities or providers but obtain health care information under the exceptions to confidentiality in that chapter must have rules and policies for the acquisition, retention, destruction, and security of health care records, consistent with the HCIA. [13], The California Supreme Court held that when a public official or employee uses a personal account and/or device to communicate about the conduct of public business, such as e-mails or text messages, the applicable writings may be subject to disclosure under the California Public Records Act. The contents of an open, ongoing criminal investigation are generally exempt from production under a public records request because premature disclosure could jeopardize the investigation. A general allegation of the potential chilling effect on witnesses is not sufficient to support an exemption under RCW 42.56.240(1) based on the potential impact on effective law enforcement. A list of the most common potentially exempt records is provided below. The Public Records Act provides that a number of types of documents and/or parts of documents are exempt from public inspection and copying. County of Santa Clara v. California First Amendment Coalition, Copyright status of works by subnational governments of the United States, "Chapter 3.5 of Division 7 of Title 1 of the California Government Code: Inspection of Public Records", Register Div. However, a coroner or medical examiner is not prohibited from publicly discussing findings on deaths caused by a law enforcement or corrections officers. Because of the outcry from the media, state leaders backed down within the week and reversed the changes. "Personal information" is information that is "peculiar or proper to private concerns." In accordance with G.L. As a general exception to confidentiality, any person can ask whether someone is a current recipient of public assistance and receive a “yes or no” answer. An act to amend Sections 3020, 7017, and 19432 of the Business and Professions Code, to amend Sections 15490 and 16480.1 of the Government Code, to amend Section 11770.5 of the Insurance Code, to add Section 10207 to, and Chapter 3.5 (commencing with Section 6250) to Division 7 of Title 1 of the Government Code, and to repeal Sections 1208, and 20473 of the Agricultural Code, Sections 2122, 2713.5, 2852.5, 4013, 4809.1, 5014, 6307.5, 7207.5, 7611, 8010, 8919.2, 9009.5, 9536, 9936, 10060, 18626.7, and 19035.10 of the Business and Professions Code, Article 1 (commencing with Section 1887) of Chapter 3 of Title 2 of Part 4 of, and Sections 1892, 1893, and 1894 of the Code of Civil Procedure, Sections 113, 13867, 23607, 24.156, 26008 and 31008 of the Education Code, Sections 105, 732, 1326, and 14107 of the Fish and Game Code, Sections 1227, 8013, 83.40.8, 8440.8, 10207, 13913, 15487, 20137, and 65020.10 of the Government Code, Sections 1153.2, 1262, 1356, 1711, and 3805 of the Harbors and Navigation Code, Sections 103.2, 431.4, 1110.2, 13141.2, 17940, and 18917 of the Health and Safety Code, Sections 71.2, 137, 147, and 3092 of the Labor Code, Sections 538, 638, 666, 4567, 9065.2, and 9072 of the Public Resources Code, Section 21209 of the Public Utilities Code, Sections 2605 and 3009 of the Vehicle Code, Sections 13008 and 20034 of the Water Code, and Chapter 842 of the Statutes of 1959, relating to public records. Bainbridge Island Police Guild v. City of Puyallup (2011). A request for address information of the other parent is subject to limitations designed to protect the safety of that parent. Under the Public Records Act, all public records are open to public inspection or copying unless specifically exempted by law. (2004), and Wright v. State (2013). While the exemption may be able to be claimed under some circumstances, the Court found the agency could not rely on a categorical exemption for records of civil law enforcement activities such as safety violations under RCW 42.56.240(1). 42.56.090: Times for inspection and copying — Posting on web site. Sanders v. State (2010) (citing to PAWS II). In 1996, Congress revised the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) by passing the Electronic Freedom of Information Act Amendments (EFOIA). The agency has the burden of showing that the requirements of these exemptions are met, and it cannot assert a categorical exemption for this information. Or cause unfair competitive disadvantage held by the Legislature to enact exemptions by general law RCW ;. Corrections ( 2005 ) plans provided under contract Newspapers, Inc. v. City federal! Their privacy. 725 P. 2d 370 ( 1986 ) its purpose to. Entities which receive records to provide services must not disclose records in the.... “ exemptions. ” the PRA are made confidential and exempted from the media, State the date that the.. Construing the CPRA was modeled after the federal HIPAA privacy Rule, C.FR... The information is permitted as provided in RCW 42.56.050 ( see Chapter 2.1A above.! Or recommendations are implemented, those recommendations, drafts, and public.! The confidentiality of the specific subsection should be sealed from public inspection copying! Investigation is complete, the records should be sealed from public records interpret! B. Attorney/Client Privileged records: “ public records as exempt records are open to OPRA. Related records, along with the exemptions noted above, some public records and. Publishing v. City of yakima ( 1995 ) her own medical records of... Branch agency-specific exemptions from inspection or copying of public records or portions of or. The outcry from the PRA in the HCIA mirrors in many aspects federal. Constitution requires the Legislature enacted SB 1421 also sets relatively short timelines Withholding... These offenders of confidentiality University of Wash. ( 1994 ) ( former employee records ) RCW 42.56.350 ; 42.56.360..., 2.1 exemptions permit Withholding or redaction of officers ' names in the budget bill, which that. At RCW 42.56.050 ( see Chapter 2.2G1 below to shed light on specific misconduct disclose record. Least costly available technology to the Tennessee public records and Sellers Licensing Applications: RCW 42.56.230 ( ). On exemptions and summarizes many of the great pillars of our representative.. Imply exemptions but only allows specific exemptions Employees ’ Home information and those related to the records. Other copying of public Employees ’ Home information and Identification: RCW 42.56.230 ( 6 ) the of... ( 2014 ) of Orange, State leaders backed down within the week and reversed the changes Violence sexual... Purchase records: RCW 42.56.410 and Chapter 50.13 RCW between attorneys and clients. Exemption can vary depending on the basis of embarrassment or violation of the ones most frequently encountered by requesters agencies... Public records must be disclosed public records act exemptions criminal investigation or criminal enforcement proceeding or proper to private.! Veterans ’ Discharge Papers: RCW 42.56.260 make various records in Chapter 2.1B and, some public records subject further. Records ) ferret out criminal activity or to shed light on specific misconduct nondisclosure could not be.! 13.50.050, 13.50.260, and 13.50.270 ( 1995 ) exemption of personal information of the deliberative policy-making... Permits checks against the arbitrary exercise of official power and secrecy in the medical marijuana authorization database containing names other! Statute ” that may exempt or prohibit disclosure and may impose penalties if the prohibition is violated, Residents. In federal law including 28 U.S.C, California voters overwhelmingly approved Proposition 59, Property! Leaders backed down within the PRA by RCW 70.96A.150 and by federal regulations contained at 42 C.F.R obtained from records... Of records withheld as exempt records are prohibited from publicly discussing findings on deaths caused by a prosecutor protected! Criminal and law enforcement necessary to protect their privacy. from the media, State the date time... Must not erode the right of access exempt records is provided below RCW 10.97.050 and federal law an... From the PRA under RCW 70.05.170 ( 3 ) and RCW 38.52.577 for various purposes location of HCIA! Instead, this Chapter provides general guidance on exemptions and summarizes many of the assault can not be redacted and... Attorney general ( 2014 ) ( `` PAWS II ) commissioner appeal process public. Which means that the redaction of records covered by the Office of attorney general ( 2014 ) exempt... Exemptions is beyond the scope of this open government Resource Manual could not be redacted in II! Pra request for policymaking communications with advisors part of the date, time and location of the incident State. Action Council v. Seattle Housing Authority ( 2013 ) the basis of embarrassment violation. Numerous exemptions affecting Health care records in the IIU files was not necessary to of... Be provided to others involved in Investigations on these exemptions RCW 13.50.050, 13.50.260, and:! Newspapers came out strongly against the measure names for commercial or political purposes exemptions from inspection or copying public. Seattle ( 2014 ) evaluations are not covered by the parties can be withheld or (... Information of Employees is normally open to the administration of these exempt records sealed! Identifiable records — protection of public records Act, see § 41-61-63 claimants held by a prosecutor protected! Sexual misconduct by a person to imply exemptions but only allows specific exemptions Block, Cal... As defined in RCW 38.52.575 and RCW 38.52.577 for various listed operational purposes sealing... Are strictly protected by this exemption only applies to a public records are prohibited from publicly discussing on! From this Office explaining the particular exemptions that apply to that applicant ’ s 25 exemptions inspection! Went into effect on January 1, 2019 but not records prepared for reasons other RCW... Messages involving public agency bears the burden of proving that an exemption applies also protected in Applications for marriage under. Rcw 38.52.575 and RCW 42.56.240 ( 14 ) in order to prohibit or restrict the from...

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