Baumgartner calls on Gov. Inslee to veto SB 6199

As an act of fulfilling the governor’s commitment to public transparency, Sen. Michael Baumgartner is calling on Gov. Jay Inslee to veto Senate Bill 6199.

If enacted, SB 6199 would create a private organization, outside of the state Department of Social and Health Services, to serve as employer for Washington’s 35,000 individual provider home care workers. The bill would also take away home care workers’ right to choose whether or not to utilize union representation, which was granted in the U.S. Supreme Court’s Harris vs. Quinn ruling.

Additionally, SB 6199 would cost taxpayers $26 million more per biennium without providing improved or expanded services. They would also no longer be required to publicly disclose contract negotiations.

“They are performing state functions, and should be subject to the same transparency and accountability standards as any other state agency,” said Baumgartner, R-Spokane. “If not for a public records request, we would not have discovered that SEIU was asking Inslee to circumvent the U.S. Supreme Court ruling. This bill takes away the rights of workers and the public to access critically important information.”

Baumgartner, who voted against the Public Records Act bill for its lack of transparency, is calling this the most secretive, corrupt piece of legislation he’s seen in his eight years serving in the Legislature, and asks editorial boards across the state do the same.

Last week, Inslee publicly stated that “the public’s right to government information is one we hold dearly in Washington. Transparency is a cornerstone of a democratic government, and I’m very proud of my administration’s record on public disclosure.” However, the legislation, requested by Inslee’s administration in direct response to SEIU 775, was only discovered through a public records request, and would remove negotiations from public disclosure.

“Backers of the bill have also been less than transparent, with SEIU frequently refusing to comment about the legislation to the news media,” said Baumgartner. “Legislative Democrats have largely avoided even trying to defend the bill publicly and moved to censor speech and materials by Republicans questioning motivations behind the bill.”