WGC Public Records Policy

The Purpose

The purpose of this chapter is to ensure compliance by the Washington Gain Commission with chapter 42.56 RCW, the Public Records Act.

Definitions

“Commission” means the Washington Grain Commission.

“Disclosure” means inspection or copying.

“Person” means any individual, firm, corporation, limited liability company, trust, association, partnership, society or any other organization of individuals, or any unit or agency of local or state government.

“Public Record” includes any writing containing information relating to the conduct of government or the performance of any governmental or proprietary function prepared, owned, used, or retained by the commission regardless of physical form or characteristics.

Public Records Officer

  1. The commission’s public records shall be in the charge of the public records officer designated by the commission. The commission or its Chief Executive Officer may appoint a temporary public records officer to serve during the absence of the designated records officer. The public records officer shall be responsible for implementing the commission’s rules regarding disclosure of public records, and generally ensuring compliance by staff with public records disclosure requirements.
  2. The name of the commission’s current public records officer is on file with the office of the code reviser in accordance with RCW 42.56.580 and is published in the Washington State Register.

Request for Public Records

  1. Requests for disclosure of public records should be directed to the Commission’s public records officer by mail at 2702 W. Sunset Blvd, Suite A, Spokane WA 99224 or by email, wgc@wagrains.org. The written request should include:
    1. The name of the person requesting the record and their contact information, i.e. address, phone number, email address;
    2. The calendar date on which the request is made; and
    3. Sufficient information to readily identify records being requested
  2. A person wishing to inspect or copy the commission’s public records may make an appointment with the commission’s public records officer to inspect the records at the commission office during regular business hours. In order to adequately protect the commission’s public records, the following will apply:
    1. Public records made available for inspection may not be removed from the area the commission makes available for inspection.
    2. Inspection of any public record will be conducted in the presence of the public records officer or designee.
    3. Public records may not be marked or altered in any manner during inspection.
    4. The commission has the discretion to designate the means for the inspection of records. The viewing of those records that require specialized equipment shall be limited to the availability of that equipment located at the commission’s office and availability of authorized staff to operate the equipment.
  3. If a requestor cannot submit a request for public records in writing and desires to make an oral request either in person or by telephone, the public records officer or designee receiving the request will summarize the request in writing and then verify in writing with the requestor that the summary correctly memorializes the request.

Response to Public Records Requests

  1. The commission will respond promptly to requests for disclosure. E-mail requests will be handled in the same manner as other types of mail received by the commission. Public records request received by e-mail after regular business hours will be considered received on the next business day. Within five business days of receiving a public records request, the public records officer will respond by doing one or more of the following:
    1. Providing the record;
    2. Providing an internet address and link on the commission’s website to the specific records requested; RCW 42.56.520
    3. Acknowledging receipt of the request and providing a reasonable estimate of the time the commission will require to respond to the request; or
    4. Denying the public records request. Responses refusing in whole or in part the inspection of a public record shall include a statement of the specific exemption authorizing the withholding of the record (or any part) and a brief explanation of how the exemption applies to the record withheld or to any redactions in records produced.
  2. Additional time to respond to the request may be based upon the need to:
    1. Clarify the intent of the request;
    2. Locate and assemble the information requested;
    3. Notify third persons or agencies affected by the request; or
    4. Determine whether any of the information requested is exempt from disclosure and that a denial should be made as to all or part of the request.
  3. In acknowledging receipt of a public records request that is unclear, the public records officer may ask the requestor to clarify what records the requestor is seeking. The public records officer is not obligated to provide further response if the requestor fails to clarify the request.

Fees-Inspection and Copying

  1. No Fee will be charged for the inspection of public records.
  2. The commission reserves the right to charge a fee of fifteen cents per black and white copies plus postage to reimburse itself for the costs of providing copies of public records.
  3. Request for records in special formatting, including color copies, will be charged at the amount necessary to reimburse the commission for its actual production costs. If the public records officer deems it more efficient to have coping or duplicating done outside the commission, the charges will be based on the actual cost of such outside copying or duplicating services. For all copying or duplicating service charges incurred, an invoice will be sent to the requestor. Reimbursement is payable within fifteen days of receipt of invoice payable to the Washington Grain Commission. The commission may require that all charges be paid in advance of release of the copies of the records.
  4. The public records officer may waive the fee when the expense of processing payment exceeds the cost of providing copies.

Exemptions

The commission’s public records are available for disclosure except as otherwise provided under chapter 42.56 RCW or any other law. Requestors should be aware of the following exemptions to public disclosure specific to commission records. This list is not exhaustive and other exemptions may apply:

  1. Production or sales records required to determine assessment levels and actual assessment payments to the commission under chapters 15.115 RCW (reference RCW 42.56.380 (3))
  2. Financial and commercial information and records supplied by persons:
    1. To the commission for the purpose of conducting a referendum for the establishment of the commission; or
    2. To the commission formed under chapter 15.115 RCW  with respect to domestic or export marketing activities or individual producer’s production information to (reference RCW 42.56.380(5)).
  3. Personal information in any files maintained for employees, appointees, or elected officials of any public agency to the extent that disclosure would violate their right to privacy (reference RWC 42.56.230(3)).
  4. List of individuals requested for commercial purposes (reference RCW 42.56.070(9)).
  5.  Records that are relevant to a controversy to which the commission is a party but which records would not be available to another party under the rules of pretrial discovery for causes pending in the superior courts, including records involving attorney-client communications between the commission and the office of the attorney general (reference RCW 5.60.060 (2) and 42.56.290)
  6. Residential addresses, residential telephone numbers, personal wireless telephone numbers, personal electronic mail addresses, Social Security numbers and emergency contact information of dependents of employees or volunteers of the commission that are held by the commission in personnel records, public employment related records, or volunteer rosters, or are included in any mailing list of employees or volunteers of the commission (reference RCW 42.56.250(3)).

Review of Denial of Public Records Requests

  1. Any person who objects to the initial denial of a records request may petition in writing to the Commission for a review of that decision. The petition shall include a copy of, or reasonably identify, the written statement by the commission denying the request.
  2. The commission’s Chief Executive Officer or designee will immediately consider the petition and either affirm or reverse the denial. In any case, the request shall be returned with a final decision, within ten business days following the receipt of the written request for review of the original denial.
  3. Under RCW 42.56.530, if the commission denies a requestor access to public records because it claims the record is exempt in whole or in part from disclosure, the requestor may request the attorney general’s office to review the matter. The attorney general has adopted rules on such requests in WAC 44-06-160.
  4. Any person may obtain court review of a denial of a public records request under RCW 42.56.550.

Records Index

The commission shall establish a records index, which shall be made available for public review. The records index may be accessed on the Commission’s website at wagrains.org.

The index includes the following records:

Washington Grain Commission Records Request Form