Opinion editorial by Brad Hawkins: Mid-session update to Okanogan County
Special to the Omak Chronicle
The 60-day legislative session in Olympia has passed its halfway point, and many proposals are moving forward. We're having important discussions about the budget, education, job creation and much more. Just about every topic is being discussed. As a 12th District legislator representing a portion of Okanogan County, one of the topics I have been discussing this session is transparency in government.
I have introduced two bills to increase government transparency and they have gained some interest during this session. The first, House Bill 2105, would make a modest update to our state's Open Public Meetings Act, which was first enacted in 1971 but has not been updated to reflect our current online society. The bill would require public agencies to post their agendas online at least 24 hours before a public meeting. There are exceptions for smaller agencies or those without a website. The intent of the bill is to help average citizens get more involved in their government at all levels because they would know ahead of time what issues may be discussed that are of interest to them.
The second bill builds on legislation I sponsored that was signed into law last year. My 2013 legislation created a user-friendly online map that displays capital and transportation budget expenditures statewide by legislative district and county. This map can be found online at http://fiscal.wa.gov/WebMaps.aspx. This year, I sponsored House Bill 2104 to expand the information available to include state contract information. Any time the state does business on your behalf, you should be able to access that contract and easily learn basic information. How the state spends your tax dollars is not only your business, it is your right.
In every major issue before the Legislature or any government, transparency must be at the core of how business is conducted. I am proud our state makes it easy for you to view detailed budget information, how your legislators have voted on bills, and that all public meetings of the Legislature are broadcast on our state's public affairs TV station, TV Washington (known as TVW). We must continue to make a concerted effort to bring more transparency to the citizens of this state.
During my time in Olympia, I have had several visitors from Okanogan County. The Okanogan County commissioners, Okanogan County Assessor, members of the Okanogan School District, Pateros City Council members, the Twisp mayor, and members of the Okanogan County Farm Bureau have all come to lend their voice to the legislative process. I am incredibly appreciative that they would make the long trip to Olympia to meet with me and other legislators. Others have contacted me via email, sent letters, or called my office directly. I appreciate everyone's interest and involvement in the state Legislature. Hearing from folks throughout my district helps me to serve you better.
I encourage you to visit my website at www.representativebradhawkins.com and sign up for my periodic e-mail updates. This is a great way to stay informed about what your state Legislature is considering and the work I am doing on your behalf. Please contact my office anytime with questions, concerns or suggestions. I take my job of representing you very seriously and value the voice of my constituents above all others. It's an honor to serve you.
Rep. Brad Hawkins represents the 12th Legislative District, which includes Chelan, Douglas, and parts of Grant and Okanogan counties. He lives in East Wenatchee with his wife and two sons. He can be contacted at email@example.com or at (360) 786-7832.
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