Think Tank Sues to Get Drug Test Results of Ferry Crew Involved in Collision

Ed Friedrich reports from Washington:

The Evergreen Freedom Foundation is suing the state Department of Transportation to get the results of drug and alcohol tests that a ferry crew took after their boat hit Seattle’s Colman Dock last summer.

The libertarian think tank based in Olympia believes the public should be able to view documents from the investigation instead of taking Washington State Ferries’ word that alcohol and drugs weren’t factors.

Not surprisingly, the state provided redacted documents in response to a public records request.

“We have done due diligence by investigating all employees involved in the Wenatchee incident and found no evidence that any employees were unfit for duty,” WSF spokeswoman Marta Coursey said. “WSF must protect both the safety of our customers as well as the privacy of our employees. Federal regulations prohibit the release of employee personal health information.”

But do federal regulations trump the state’s open records law? The think tank doesn’t think it should:

A broader issue, he said, is whether a state agency should be able to use a federal regulation, not a law, to claim an exemption from the state public records act

“Wouldn’t this then give that agency an opportunity to game the system to regulate exemptions for all of its public records?” St. Clair said.

Read more in the Kitsap Sun.

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