OLYMPIA, Wash. — State Sen. Jim Honeyford, R-Sunnyside, is known for submitting legislation that only a wonk for fine print could love, and he’s done it again.
Honeyford, a self-fashioned historian, has submitted a bill that would formally expand the role of the state archivist and codify minimum requirements for being appointed to the position. Those requirements would include having a master’s degree in history, government, political science, or business administration, or being a certified archivist.
In addition, Senate Bill 5055 would require a minimum of five years experience as an archivist elsewhere.
The current state archivist, Steve Excell, is a former assistant secretary of state who was named to the position in December by new Secretary of State Kim Wyman, who opposes the bill. The bill would not affect Excell.
Honeyford said he has no issue with Excell’s qualifications or those of any previous state archivists in recent history. He said the legislation would simply put the state on equal footing with other states that have written similar qualifications into statute.
“Much of the proposal is current practice anyway, but I thought we should bring the law up to date,” Honeyford said.
the former state archivist, Jerry Handfield, testified before the Senate Government Operations Committee in favor of the bill.
In a summary of public testimony, Katie Blinn, policy assistant director for Wyman’s office, told the committee that most state positions do not have minimum job requirements written into law because hiring has traditionally been done at the discretion of department heads.
Blinn said having a particular degree doesn’t necessarily mean someone has the proper skills to be state archivist.
The bill would expand the role of state archivist in several ways, including providing consultant services to state and local records coordinators, which Honeyford said are already common practice.