Open Government Trainings Act
The Open Government Trainings Act enacted by the 2014 Legislature (ESB 5964, Laws of 2014, Ch. 66) requires training for some local government officials in the fundamentals of the Open Public Meetings Act (OPMA), Public Records Act (PRA), and records retention requirements.
State law requires every local elected official to receive public records training AND every member of a governing body subject to OPMA to receive OPMA training no later than 90 days after taking the oath of office or assuming their duties. These trainings may be completed before assuming office, and each member must take a refresher course at least every four years.
As a public official, all “written” records related to city business are subject to public inspection under the state Public Records Act (PRA), with very narrow exceptions. The PRA defines “writing” very broadly to include not only traditional written records, but also photos, maps, videos, voicemails, emails, text messages, and tweets.
Open Public Meetings
The state Open Public Meetings Act (OPMA) requires all meetings of a governing body to be open and accessible to the public. This generally applies to any meeting in which a majority of the city council meets and discusses council business, with limited exceptions. The OPMA contains specific requirements for regular meetings, special meetings, and executive sessions.
Why Training is Critical
Public agencies must have a good command of these laws. Training is a key component in correctly implementing and complying with the laws. Training is an important risk management tool. Training can help establish a “culture of compliance” within an agency. Training can help avoid or reduce litigation and its costs. Violations of the open public records and meetings laws can result in penalties, as well as a breakdown in confidence in government.
Open Government Resource Manual
The Washington State Attorney General’s Office produces a manual that provides information about WA State’s Sunshine Laws. Click here to download the manual. The manual has three chapters:
- Chapter 1: Public Records Act – General and Procedural Provisions
- Chapter 2: Public Records Act – Exemptions
- Chapter 3: Open Public Meetings Act
Below are the steps for taking the online Open Government Training through the Washington State Attorney General’s Office and the Washington State Archives Records Management websites:
- Select the training lesson(s) you need to take from the list below:
- View the online training lesson(s).
- When you have completed each training, please send an email to City Clerk Deb Estrada (email@example.com) to document the lesson completed and the date of completion.