Washington State

House of Representatives

Office of Program Research



Government Operations & Elections Committee

HB 1297

This analysis was prepared by non-partisan legislative staff for the use of legislative members in their deliberations. This analysis is not a part of the legislation nor does it constitute a statement of legislative intent.

Brief Description: Implementing a recommendation of the sunshine committee.

Sponsors: Representatives Springer, Hunt, Appleton and Ryu; by request of Public Records Exemptions Accountability Committee.

Brief Summary of Bill

  • Clarifies what information resulting from background checks of a guardian ad litem may and may not be disclosed to the parties in a parent-child termination action.

Hearing Date: 2/5/13

Staff: Marsha Reilly (786-7135).


The Public Records Act (PRA) requires that all state and local government agencies make all public records available for public inspection and copying unless they fall within certain statutory exemptions. The provisions requiring public records disclosure must be interpreted liberally and the exemptions narrowly in order to effectuate a general policy favoring disclosure.

Under any proceeding related to terminating a parent-child relationship, the courts must appoint a guardian ad litem for any child. A guardian ad litem is an individual appointed by the court to represent the best interests of a child or incapacitated person involved in a case in superior court. Persons wishing to be a guardian ad litem must apply to the guardian ad litem program in each county. Counties must maintain information for each guardian ad litem in the program, which is updated annually, including, but not limited to:

The background information must be provided to the parties or their attorneys involved in the action. The portion of the background information record containing the results of the criminal background check and the criminal history shall not be disclosed to the parties or their attorneys, and may not include background information that includes identifying information that may be used to harm the guardian ad litem.

Summary of Bill:

The background information that may and may not be disclosed to the parties or their attorneys in an action is clarified. The results of the background check conducted through the Washington State Patrol criminal identification system may be provided. The results of the criminal background check and the criminal history from the Federal Bureau of Investigation may not be disclosed.

Appropriation: None.

Fiscal Note: Not requested.

Effective Date: The bill takes effect 90 days after adjournment of the session in which the bill is passed.