AP NEWS

Legislature OKs carve out for media on birth date disclosure

March 9, 2020 GMT

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — The Washington Legislature has passed a bill that exempts birth dates of state and local government employees from disclosure under the state’s public records law, but allows the media to continue to have access to them.

On a 91-5 vote Monday, the House concurred on changes made by the Senate to the measure. The bill now heads to the governor for his signature.

The bill is in response to an October ruling by the state Supreme Court that said birth dates of state employees are public records that are subject to disclosure.

In a 5-4 ruling , the court said there was no statutory or constitutional allowance that would preclude the release of such information. The fight over access to employee birth dates stems from a 2016 request from the Freedom Foundation, a conservative group that had been seeking disclosure of records of union-represented employees, so it could contact them as part of its effort to reduce the size and influence of public-sector unions. Several unions sought to stop the release of the records.

Under the measure, state and local government agencies also would be required to notify employees and their unions whenever a public request is made for employee information.