On December 9, 2021, a Washington-based non-profit filed a state lawsuit against the State of Washington, the state's redistricting commission, and the commission's members, challenging the commission's conduct as violating various state statutory and constitutional requirements related to open government and transparency. First, plaintiff alleged the defendants failed to complete the requisite training on compliance with Washington's Open Public Meetings Act, citing an allegedly insufficient presentation to the Commission by the Assistant Attorney General. Next, plaintiff asserted in the course of the defendants' final meeting, the commission held private discussions and votes pertaining to the adoption of final redistricting plans in violation of the Open Public Meetings Act and the commission's own mission statement. Finally, the plaintiff asserted in violating the Open Public Meetings Act, the defendants also violated the Washington Constitution's redistricting provisions relating to transparency, secret ballots, and open meetings. Plaintiff sought a declaratory judgment that the defendants acted outside the scope of their authority and in violation of the Washington Constitution and Open Public Meetings Act, an order enjoining future violations, declaring the defendant commissioners' votes taken in private as void and unenforceable, mandating compliance with the Open Public Meeting Act's training requirements, and a civil penalty imposed against each individual defendant commissioner.
On February 23, 2022 the plaintiffs and the Commission agreed to settle the case and presented a consent decree to the Thurston County Superior Court for approval. The decree establishes that Washington's Open Public Meetings Act applies to the Commission and its Commissioners and that the Commission violated the OPMA's transparency rules by holding private negotiations on final maps. It further stipulated all future commissioners and staff shall complete open government training within 30 days of their hiring or appointment, the Commission shall publicly release all proposed plans prior to making a motion to approve them as final, and shall collect public comment on such final approval motions prior thereto. Finally, under the settlement, the Superior Court would deny the plaintiff's request to invalidate the final redistricting plans. The Superior Court approved the settlement on March 4, thereby ending the case.
Washington Superior Court, Thurston County - No. 21-2-01069-34 [together with No. 21-2-01949-34]