Politics & Government

Legislative roundup for Feb. 14

Asian Pacific day draws 1,500

About 1,500 Washingtonians of Asian descent came to Olympia on Tuesday for the 11th Asian Pacific Legislative Day.

The event, organized by the state's Asian Pacific Islander Coalition, came a day after an estimated 2,000 people held a rally for African-American rights.

The group's seven Washington chapters outlined their legislative priorities, including funding for education, citizen naturalization programs, English as a second language and health care.

Gov. Chris Gregoire spoke about the need for diversity in government positions.

Sen. Paul Shinn, D-Edmonds, was one of three legislators of Asian descent who addressed the crowd, discussing their educational experiences in the United States and stressing the need for continued focus on youth programs.

"We must make room for the young people; they are our future," he said.

Think tank, unions spar over notes

The Evergreen Freedom Foundation and state worker unions are tangling over releasing notes made by state negotiators during last summer's contract talks.

The foundation, a privately financed think tank, made a public-records request for "a copy of all bargaining notes made by negotiators and bargaining team members regarding the 2007-09 collective bargaining agreements."

Those agreements, reached in August, cover almost 50,000 state workers through unions such as the Service Employees International Union Local 775 and the Washington Federation of State Employees.

Court rulings and laws control similar documents, but the foundation said Monday that it thinks the notes are considered public information.

The unions have filed a complaint in King County Superior Court to stop the release. In it, the unions argue that the documents are of "no legitimate concern to the public," and releasing them will undermine the collective-bargaining process and reveal union strategy.

The foundation argues that with millions of dollars in tax money involved in the contracts that resulted, the bargaining notes are in the public interest.

The contracts were approved in ratification votes by union members and included in Gov. Chris Gregoire's proposed budget. They must be included in the state budget by the Legislature before they are funded.

Kurt Ackerson and Adam Wilson/The Olympian