What is OPMA? (Open Public Meeting Act)
In 1971, the state legislature enacted the Open Public Meetings Act (the “Act”) to make the conduct of government more accessible and open to the public. The Act begins with a strongly worded statement of purpose:
The legislature finds and declares that all public commissions, boards, councils, committees, subcommittees, departments, divisions, offices, and all other public agencies of this state and subdivisions thereof exist to aid in the conduct of the people's business. It is the intent of this chapter that their actions be taken openly and that their deliberations be conducted openly.
The people of this state do not yield their sovereignty to the agencies which serve them. The people, in delegating authority, do not give their public servants the right to decide what is good for the people to know and what is not good for them to know. The people insist on remaining informed so that they may retain control over the instruments they have created.
Codified in chapter 42.30 RCW, the Act applies to all city and town councils, to all county councils and boards of county commissioners, and to the governing bodies of special purpose districts, as well as to many subordinate city, county, and special purpose district commissions, boards, and committees. It requires, basically, that all “meetings” of such bodies be open to the public and that all “action” taken by such bodies be done at meetings that are open to the public. The terms “meetings” and “action” are defined broadly in the Act and, consequently, the Act can have daily significance for cities, counties, and special purpose districts even when no formal meetings are being conducted.