Law & Justice

Prisoners and shelter dogs: a bond behind bars

June 18, 2014 - Washington House Democrats

Prison inmates and shelter dogs have a few things in common, including living behind iron bars and dreams of a normal life at home, with family. There’s a great story in The Peninsula Daily News which shows how prisoners in Forks are training dogs from local shelters. The dogs live with two inmates, in their cell, and are trained to be more adoptable. Here’s the key part of that story: Handling dogs is a privilege that can be lost through … Continue reading

Today: committees discuss spiral of unpaid legal fees

June 12, 2014 - Washington House Democrats

Today: committees discuss spiral of unpaid legal fees

Debtors’ prisons were supposed to be outlawed in the United States over 200 years ago. And, in a 1983 Supreme Court Case, Bearden v Georgia, the court ruled that judges cannot send offenders to prison solely because they cannot pay their fines. But, the ruling also declared that courts must distinguish between defendants who are unable to pay and those who are able to pay but “willfully refuse.” Recently, National Public Radio (NPR) did a special investigation revealing that judges … Continue reading

Is crime up or down in Washington state?

May 29, 2014 - Washington House Democrats

Is crime up or down in Washington state?

If you only watched the TV news and read newspapers, you’d think crime was out of control. The truth is, crime has been on the decline in Washington state for years, stretching all the way back to 1994. Violent crime has been cut in half and is still dropping. Property crime is also drastically down. Raw data on arrests, on the other hand, shows some surprising and counter-intuitive results. You’d expect places with big cities to have more crime compared … Continue reading

Oil-trains: Tragedy just a derailment and spill away

May 13, 2014 - Washington House Democrats

Oil-trains: Tragedy just a derailment and spill away

Oil-train disasters rain crushing, nightmarish blows on communities crisscrossed by these needed but potentially lethal loads. Very recently, tank cars carrying crude oil on tracks 12 miles from downtown Lynchburg, Virginia, derailed, their liquid load threatening the nearby James River. Thankfully, no one was injured and no environmental damage has been detected. A far more horrifying oil-train catastrophe last summer devastated a small community in the Canadian province of Quebec. An unattended train laden with crude “ran away” and derailed, … Continue reading

State patrol: move over for emergency vehicles

April 23, 2014 - Washington House Democrats

State patrol: move over for emergency vehicles

It’s a rule of the road: slow down and move over when passing emergency vehicles parked on the shoulder. State troopers will be looking for drivers who don’t follow that rule this weekend. Not respecting  fire trucks, ambulances, tow trucks, police cars, etc. performing their duties can result in a fine — unless the emergency worker is endangered by that disrespect, in which case drivers can face jail time and a suspended license. Protect yourself and our emergency workers! Slow … Continue reading

Making justice just

April 22, 2014 - Washington House Democrats

Making justice just

Parents have long suspected that their teenagers are more likely to act impulsively, to engage in risky behaviors and to make mistakes than adults. And, thanks to recent research, we now know this is due to anatomical differences in the adolescent brain. These differences make youth less capable than adults of assessing risks, controlling impulsive behavior, and engaging in moral reasoning. They suggest that youth may be more amenable to rehabilitation. In fact, 90% of adolescents “age out” of delinquent … Continue reading

Police enforcing state law against Texting While Driving

April 16, 2014 - Washington House Democrats

Police enforcing state law against Texting While Driving

For years, police and traffic safety experts have said texting while driving can be as deadly as drunk driving. Police across western Washington are driving that message home, with a coordinated enforcement of Washington state laws against texting while driving. As Officer Bill Wingrove said in this KIRO 7 piece about the effort, “A lot of people do not take it seriously and it’s a leading cause within traffic fatalities and serious injuries here in Washington — 20 percent just … Continue reading

Mental health care or mental jail care?

April 15, 2014 - Washington House Democrats

Mental health care or mental jail care?

Mental illness can be a scary thing. And it can strike any family. But mental illnesses, like schizophrenia and bi-polar disorder, are biological conditions like heart disease or cancer. And they should be treated in a medical setting. The sad truth is most people with these debilitating mental illnesses aren’t being treated in hospitals or psychiatric clinics, but in our prisons. In a report published April 8th, the Treatment Advocacy Center notes that jails and prisons house 356,268 inmates with … Continue reading

Reform will protect victims of domestic violence

March 18, 2014 - Washington House Democrats

Reform will protect victims of domestic violence

Most murders don’t happen because some genius serial killer is stalking the streets of Seattle or Spokane. Police and prosecutors know that homicide victims usually die at the hands of somebody they know – especially if the victim is a woman. The numbers are stark: more than half of all murder victims are women killed by husbands or boyfriends, usually with a gun. That’s why a new law headed to the governor’s desk is so important. House Bill 1840 aims … Continue reading

In a win for children, the Youth Opportunities Act passes legislature!

March 10, 2014 - Washington House Democrats

In a win for children, the Youth Opportunities Act passes legislature!

In a unanimous vote, the Senate passed SHB 1651, the Youth Opportunities Act that will seal juvenile records at age 18 for most youth offenders. The foundation of our state’s juvenile justice system is rehabilitation. It is most successful when youth reintegrate into society and become active, law-abiding, contributing members of their communities. But our current system makes that impossible. Washington is one of only eight states that have open juvenile records. Rep. Ruth Kagi, prime sponsor of the bill … Continue reading

Study: Private liquor sales have hit youth hard

February 28, 2014 - Washington House Democrats

Study: Private liquor sales have hit youth hard

Other shoes are dropping on the 2011 initiative that got Washington state government out of the liquor business. Just under 59 percent of Washington voters approved Initiative 1183 just over two years ago. A recently released study points out a couple of big downsides of these new private liquor sales: An increase in the number of liquor thefts. An increase in the number of liquor-related emergency-room visits. The research reports that young people are particularly involved in and affected by … Continue reading

House passes bipartisan bill on the use of drones

February 18, 2014 - Washington House Democrats

House passes bipartisan bill on the use of drones

Last evening, in a 83-15 vote, the House passed HB 2789, which provides a framework for the public use of drones, defined in the bill as “extraordinary sensing devices” (ESDs). Rep. Roger Goodman, Chair of the House Public Safety Committee and sponsor of the bill, steered the bill to enactment and spoke on its passage, “We are being watched, and we know it,” he said. “There are cameras affixed to buildings, streets, parking lots.  We don’t have a complete expectation … Continue reading

Listen up!

January 31, 2014 - Washington House Democrats

Listen up!

This has been a very busy week for State Rep. Laurie Jinkins. On Tuesday, as Chair of the House Judiciary Committee she presided over one of the most hotly contested issues in Olympia – the gun initiatives.  Tuesday’s hearing drew hundreds of supporters for the dueling initiatives -  I-594, requiring universal background checks and I-591, outlawing universal background checks. Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and her husband, retired astronaut Mark Kelly also came to speak in favor of universal background checks. … Continue reading

Corrections spending soars, so does uneven imprisonment

January 28, 2014 - Washington House Democrats

Corrections spending soars, so does uneven imprisonment

Our state and nation just celebrated the life and legacy of an American hero, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. In his towering advocacy and nonviolent protest against injustice, King was no stranger to the inside of a jail cell. He was arrested on a number of occasions over the years. The 1964 Nobel Peace Prize winner, what with his many times behind bars, had something in common with millions of Americans in 2014 — and thousands of Washingtonians … Continue reading

Rep. Appleton: Ban bad dogs, not “bad” breeds

January 17, 2014 - Washington House Democrats

It’s not often a state lawmaker can introduce a bill and point to the support of the American Bar Association, the American Veterinary Medical Association, the Centers for Disease Contol, and the President of the United States . . . but Thursday, Representative Sherry Appleton (D-23rd, Poulsbo) was able to do just that. The legislation in question would stop local governments from branding entire breeds of dogs as killers and banning them from their jurisdictions. It’s a growing practice, and … Continue reading

Suicide prevention is a priority in our state

November 15, 2013 - Washington House Democrats

Suicide prevention is a priority in our state

According to the Washington State Injury and Violence Prevention Guide, suicide is the second leading cause of death among youth ages 15 to 24 in our state. This translates to 25 percent of the deaths in this age group, which averages to about 2 youth dying by suicide each week. A Des Moines lawmakers is determined to change those statistics and has been working diligently on ways to identify the signs that lead to suicide. Rep. Tina Orwall began tackling … Continue reading

Should we worry more about criminals and sharks–or diabetes and car crashes?

October 28, 2013 - Washington House Democrats

Should we worry more about criminals and sharks–or diabetes and car crashes?

Unless you live in an ice cave, and have never been exposed to television, movies and newspapers, you know that criminals are hiding in every alley, ready to shoot you for the $13 in your wallet unless the serial killer over there gets you first. While coverage of murder and mayhem in the media is way, way up, the actual numbers for deaths in Washington state–from every possible cause–has been steadily dropping. The latest numbers are from the state Department … Continue reading

Feds won’t block Washington marijuana legalization

August 29, 2013 - Washington House Democrats

Feds won’t block Washington marijuana legalization

The Federal Department of Justice (DOJ) announced today that they will not take any legal action to stop the marijuana legalization process taking place in Washington and Colorado. The decision puts to rest a long-running concern among both advocates and opponents of the new recreational marijuana marketplace. Initiative 502, approved by the voters in 2012, was specifically designed to avoid agitating federal drug laws. The rulemaking by the Liquor Control Board has been conducted under the shadow of federal intervention. … Continue reading

$124 distracted driving fines not just for cell phone users

August 8, 2013 - Washington House Democrats

$124 distracted driving fines not just for cell phone users

Keeping people safe on the road takes constantly-evolving laws. We’ve heard a lot about the increasing penalties for impaired driving, for example. Right now, state troopers and local police are emphasizing a different part of state law, something that gets far less attention in the press than drunk driving, but is far more common and possibly more dangerous: distracted driving. Twenty percent of all King County traffic deaths involve distracted drivers, according to a story by Chris Sullivan of KIRO … Continue reading

Tackling the common crime of car prowls

August 2, 2013 - Washington House Democrats

Tackling the common crime of car prowls

There’s the one-time criminal – an average guy gets drunk and picks a fight in a tavern, for example – and then there are career criminals, who commit offense after offense. Police and prosecutors call these repeat offenders “frequent flyers,” and they cost crime victims and taxpayers millions. The average person gets arrested and figures out they made a huge mistake. They don’t do it again. But career criminals don’t stop after one arrest, or seventeen. They keep going. Car … Continue reading

Skagit River Bridge will be renamed after Trooper Sean O’Connell

July 31, 2013 - Washington House Democrats

Skagit River Bridge will be renamed after Trooper Sean O’Connell

The Washington State Transportation Commission voted to rename the new Skagit River Bridge after Washington State Patrol Trooper Sean O’Connell. O’Connell was killed in the line of duty on May 31st while directing traffic through detours around the collapsed bridge. He was a 16-year veteran of the State Patrol, as well as a loving husband and father of two. Friends, family, neighbors and coworkers praised his compassionate service to his community after his death. During the end of the first … Continue reading

Swift and certain punishment for abusers and drunk drivers

July 24, 2013 - Washington House Democrats

Swift and certain punishment for abusers and drunk drivers

Washington state is a national leader in embracing the crime reform known as “swift and certain,” based on a pilot project in Hawaii where parolees were 50 percent less likely to be arrested for a new crime and 70 percent less likely to abuse drugs. Washington took that idea and adopted it statewide. The old system in Hawaii was overwhelmed, and probation officers would let 10 or 15 probation violations slide before they recommended to a judge that the violator … Continue reading

Governor Inslee signs DUI reform bill

July 18, 2013 - Washington House Democrats

Governor Inslee signs DUI reform bill

Making Washington roadways safer

July 16, 2013 - Washington House Democrats

Making Washington roadways safer

Three years ago, Frank Blair received the news that is every parent’s nightmare. In the middle of the night, a police officer knocked on his door and told him that his 24-year-old daughter had been killed by a drunk driver. Since that tragic evening, Frank has dedicated his life to preventing other parents from receiving similar news. That work received legislative approval during the last week of session when the House of Representatives passed Senate Bill 5912 with unanimous support. … Continue reading

Representative Freeman hits the ground running in inaugural legislative session

June 19, 2013 - Rep. Roger Freeman

Representative Freeman hits the ground running in inaugural legislative session

The first legislative session can be marathon of public hearings, executive sessions, and vote counting for first session freshman legislators. Representative Roger Freeman distinguished himself as a skillful navigator of this complex process as Governor Inslee signed into law four pieces of legislation sponsored by the 30th district legislator. Research clearly demonstrates that children and parents who have been separated through the child welfare system, have very poor life outcomes. HB 1821 aims to reverse that trend by encouraging the … Continue reading

Shutdown casualty: law and order

June 17, 2013 - Washington House Democrats

Shutdown casualty: law and order

State government officials are scrambling this week to figure out what will happen if there is no budget in place when the new fiscal year starts July 1. It’s not only social service programs that would be slammed by a state-government shutdown: The criminal justice system also would take a big hit if a budget stalemate cuts off the flow of money from Olympia. Ask Rep. Steve Tharinger of Dungeness. A former Clallam County commissioner, he knows state funding provides … Continue reading

Human trafficking: More work to do

June 13, 2013 - Rep. Gael Tarleton

Human trafficking: More work to do

This is a chilling story of trafficking in the northeast corner of the United States. We’ve worked so hard here in Washington to fight modern-day sex slavery. I’m proud to have worked for years with my seatmate, Senator Jeanne Kohl-Welles, who has played a leading role for the past decade to pass legislation that criminalizes human trafficking in our state. We must continue to work with partners across the nation to adopt comprehensive immigration reforms. And it is time to … Continue reading

On the front lines of budget cuts: first responders

June 10, 2013 - Washington House Democrats

On the front lines of budget cuts: first responders

Disasters, both natural and human-launched, have lately reminded us much we depend on the heroic men and women of our police, fire, and emergency medical departments. Bombings, shootings, hurricanes, bridge collapses — these first-responders run toward the very things the rest of us run from. But a recent item from Stateline (“The Daily News Service of the Pew Charitable Trusts”) reveals an awfully troubling fact of life in the Great Recession’s budget-slashing: Front-Line Heroes Subject to Budget Cuts, Pay Disparity. … Continue reading

Open Up and Say “Aaaaah’m Not Guilty.”

June 6, 2013 - Washington House Democrats

Open Up and Say “Aaaaah’m Not Guilty.”

In a landmark 5-4 ruling earlier this week, the US Supreme court authorized taking a suspect’s DNA upon arrest. Justice Kennedy wrote the majority’s opinion. This decision broke down usual alliances in the court with Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Thomas, Breyer and Samuel A. Alito Jr. joining the majority opinion, while Justices Ginsburg, Sotomayor and Kagan joined Justice Scalia’s dissent. The reason for the ruling in favor of DNA sampling, however, was not one that supporters tout as a … Continue reading

Rep. Sam Hunt’s Electronic Newsletter – June 3, 2013

June 3, 2013 - Rep. Sam Hunt

Hi. As the special session drags on, we wait for the budget negotiations to come to a conclusion.  I get emails chiding us for the special session and saying that legislators love special sessions because it increases their pay and gives them more time in Olympia.  A special session is disrupting for legislators; many have jobs at home that require their attention; they rent apartments or rooms to stay in during session and most of those leases expire at the … Continue reading

Who gets arrested in Washington state, and how much does it cost?

May 29, 2013 - Washington House Democrats

Who gets arrested in Washington state, and how much does it cost?

If you took a guess, high school kids would probably get into roughly as much trouble as college-aged people. Yet looking at the hard numbers makes those crazy teenagers look like saints. The biggest group of people arrested, by a mile, are aged 20 to 24. That group keeps police busy, accounting for 30 percent of all arrests in Washington state, according to the Crime in Washington 2012 report by the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs. Since most … Continue reading

Alcohol abuse linked to drunk driving, violence, and murder

May 28, 2013 - Washington House Democrats

Alcohol abuse linked to drunk driving, violence, and murder

Not that anybody is advocating a return to Prohibition, which didn’t exactly turn out well. Yet it is interesting to look at data that shows that drunk driving isn’t the only social problem linked to abusing alcohol. A few years ago, roughly one out of three people arrested in the state was drunk at the time of their arrest. Another one in three were high. One out of six were drunk and high. If you add that up, most people … Continue reading

Crime in Washington state: 2012 snapshot

May 24, 2013 - Washington House Democrats

Crime in Washington state: 2012 snapshot

Washington state has more than 6,800,000 people. Though we’re not a high-crime state, bad things do happen – but our law enforcers are getting better at tracking crime and responding to it. A big part of the effort is information. There are local police departments in our cities, sheriff deputies in every county and state troopers keeping the highways safe. All of those different departments have their own computer systems and ways of doing things. Yet they cooperate closely when … Continue reading

Sweeping mental health care reforms approved by Governor Inslee

May 23, 2013 - WA House Dems

Sweeping mental health care reforms approved by Governor Inslee

We’ve seen the tragedy that can occur when the mentally ill don’t get the care they need. Tuesday afternoon, Governor Inslee approved several measures to improve mental health care and make Washington a safer place. Among the reforms is Rep. Tami Green’s bill to speed-up the implementation of changes to the involuntary treatment law – funding the updates two years ahead of schedule. “It’s a myth that all mentally ill people are dangerous – but as a nurse who deals … Continue reading

How safe are we?

May 15, 2013 - Washington House Democrats

How safe are we?

This week, State Auditor Troy Kelley released a performance audit showing that our state’s background check system is severely lacking. The audit found we could do a better job protecting our state’s most vulnerable – children, disabled, and the elderly – from criminals. The audit was triggered by a report done last summer that showed a registered sex offender working as a school janitor, undetected, for nine years. In addition, the report found 28 sex offenders had been living in … Continue reading

We’re nearing wildfire season. Are you prepared?

May 7, 2013 - Washington House Democrats

We’re nearing wildfire season. Are you prepared?

Images of a raging blaze that scorched 28,000 acres in Southern California over the weekend serve as a reminder that as temperatures rise in the Pacific Northwest, so does the risk of wildfires. In fact, in the past 48 hours 11 wildfires sparked in our state, fortunately, none developed into the huge inferno California just went through. But we’re not immune. The 1902 Yacolt Burn destroyed almost 300,000 acres in Clark, Cowlitz, and Skamania counties in less than two days. … Continue reading

Legislature puts “Legitimate Rape” to bed for good

May 7, 2013 - Washington House Democrats

Legislature puts “Legitimate Rape” to bed for good

You may remember last year when Republican Senate candidate Todd Akin, in response to a question on a woman’s right to choose, said, “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” Those words far outlived his failed candidacy. Until this legislative session, Washington, a state that is usually ahead of the curve on social issues, (we gave women the right to vote before we were even a state) was one … Continue reading

Honoring law enforcement’s ultimate sacrifice: May 3

May 2, 2013 - Washington House Democrats

Honoring law enforcement’s ultimate sacrifice: May 3

If you hear the crack of gunfire echoing across the Capitol Campus early on the afternoon of Friday, May 3, don’t be alarmed: It’s part of the annual ceremony at the Law Enforcement Memorial in honor of those officers who have given their lives to serve Washington. The ceremony, scheduled for 1-3 p.m. at the memorial site north of the Temple of Justice, includes a 21-gun salute, and the rifle officers will practice the salute beforehand behind the General Administration … Continue reading

Turning the screws on metal thieves

May 2, 2013 - Washington House Democrats

Turning the screws on metal thieves

Metal theft is huge problem that affects our entire state. Robbers are stealing everything: cemetery urns, farm equipment, copper from power lines and brass fittings on fire hoses. Metal is a hot commodity because it is valuable and not easily traced. The havoc wreaked by these incidents causes expensive, destructive damage. When robbers cut copper from power lines the company doesn’t just pay to replace the copper, they pay workers to rebuild the entire system. The hazard to public safety … Continue reading

2013 Regular Session Victories

April 29, 2013 - Washington House Democrats

2013 Regular Session Victories

Education – Early Learning through Higher Education Integrating early learning (HB 1723) – Creates a framework for developing an integrated, high quality early learning continuum for low-income children ages birth to 5. Reforming Working Connections Child Care (SB 5595) – Develops user-friendly customer service and creates a legislative task force to develop recommendations to transition the program to a high quality, integrated, early- education oriented service. State-Tribal education compacts (HB 1134) – Allows OSPI (rather than the State itself) to … Continue reading

Tri-City Herald: Governor signs ‘Safe Keys’ bill

April 27, 2013 - Rep. Gael Tarleton

Tri-City Herald: Governor signs ‘Safe Keys’ bill

Tyler Richardson with the Tri-City Herald wrote a great story today about my Safe Keys bill. One woman’s fight to take a stance against violent crime after being raped in her Richland apartment in 2009 has effectively helped change the way landlords throughout the state are required to secure duplicate apartment keys. A gap in the Landlord-Tenant Act that failed to address what landlords do with tenants’ extra keys was closed this week when House Bill 1647, also known as … Continue reading

Governor Inslee signs Tarleton’s ‘Safe Keys’ bill

April 24, 2013 - Rep. Gael Tarleton

Governor Inslee signs Tarleton’s ‘Safe Keys’ bill

Governor Jay Inslee signed House Bill 1647 into law on Tuesday, which will require landlords to safely secure spare and master keys to rental units. State Representative Gael Tarleton (D-Ballard) introduced the measure after hearing Dana Widrig’s story. Widrig was brutally beaten and raped in her apartment complex three years ago. Her attacker was a maintenance employee who worked at Widrig’s apartment complex. He gained access to a spare set of keys to her rental unit because they weren’t properly … Continue reading

New protections enacted for stalking victims

April 18, 2013 - Washington House Democrats

New protections enacted for stalking victims

Stalking is a crime that affects approximately 3.4 million Americans each year. These perpetrators know no economic, racial, or societal bounds. Some stalkers are former spouses or boyfriends who are angry about child custody battles or embittered by breakups. But they can also be total strangers to the victim. Stalking can destroy lives. They sit outside homes for hours. They follow victims to work, to the gym, and out with friends. They call dozens of times a day and make … Continue reading

Getting tough on drunk drivers

April 16, 2013 - Washington House Democrats

Getting tough on drunk drivers

Washingtonians are three times more likely to be injured or killed on the roads than at the hands of criminals. Drunk drivers are a major cause of the tragedies in our neighborhoods and on our highways. This afternoon, Governor Jay Inslee introduced his plan to combat chronic drunk driving at a press conference with Democratic and Republican lawmakers. House Bill 2030, introduced by Rep. Dawn Morrell (D-Puyallup), streamlines complicated DUI laws in our state. After someone is arrested for DUI, … Continue reading

Tarleton’s safe keys bill OK’d by Senate

April 12, 2013 - Rep. Gael Tarleton

Tarleton’s safe keys bill OK’d by Senate

State Representative Gael Tarleton’s (D-Ballard) bill requiring landlords to safely secure spare keys to their rental units was approved by the Senate today by a vote of 42-5. Tarleton introduced the measure after hearing Dana Widrig’s story. Widrig was brutally beaten and raped in her apartment complex three years ago. Her attacker was a maintenance employee who worked at Widrig’s apartment complex. He gained access to a spare set of keys to her rental unit because they weren’t properly secured … Continue reading

Legislative Update from Rep. Eileen Cody

April 2, 2013 - Rep. Eileen Cody

In my last e-memo, I reported back on some bills we passed during the House of Origin cutoff week. I am proud of these legislative accomplishments and I look forward to seeing them advance through the Senate. However, there were also some disappointments this session and we still have more work to do to keep our communities safe. Preventing gun violence Over the last few months, many of you have reached out to me with emails, letters, phone calls and … Continue reading

Rep. Green: We can prevent tragedies

March 22, 2013 - Rep. Tami Green

Rep. Green: We can prevent tragedies

Here’s some media coverage of Rep. Tami Green’s legislation (House Bill 1777), which would reform how the state handles people who may be a danger to themselves or others. Q13 TV ran this story: The story said, in part: Green, a mental health nurse, added,  “Every day when I work, I see someone who didn’t get the help they need until it was too late. If we catch it early, then we don’t have, you know, the naked guy running … Continue reading

House approves latest Kagi road safety bill

March 13, 2013 - Rep. Ruth Kagi

House approves latest Kagi road safety bill

A measure to help improve safety on roads and highways by requiring vehicles hauling sand, rock, gravel or dirt to cover those loads passed the state House over the weekend. Sponsored by Rep. Ruth Kagi (D – Shoreline), the bill closes a gap in state law pertaining to unsecured loads.  Road safety is one of Kagi’s top legislative priorities; she sponsored “Maria’s Law” in 2005 after a woman named Maria Federici was blinded and disfigured by a piece of furniture … Continue reading

Orwall continues bringing help and hope to victims of human trafficking

March 8, 2013 - Rep. Tina Orwall

Orwall continues bringing help and hope to victims of human trafficking

Yesterday, the House of Representatives unanimously passed a measure sponsored by state Rep. Tina Orwall to build on the progress made last year in the fight against human trafficking. “Unfortunately, SeaTac and surrounding areas have one of the highest rates of child trafficking in the United States, so our region has been greatly impacted,” said the Des Moines Democrat. “My bill will give law enforcement the tools they need to combat the commercial sex industry and help these young victims … Continue reading

Rep. Brian Blake’s Legislative Update – March 5, 2013

March 5, 2013 - Rep. Brian Blake

Rep. Brian Blake’s Legislative Update – March 5, 2013

Dear neighbors, First, I want to thank all of you who joined our 19th Legislative District telephone town hall last Wednesday evening.  Rep. Dean Takko, Senator Brian Hatfield, and I had a great time and really appreciated the chance to hear from you directly. Your questions, from funding education to health care reform and multiple other issues, made it an interesting and very informative one-hour conversation.  If you missed it, you can get the audio here. House policy committees did … Continue reading

House OKs bills highlighting public safety, consumer protection

March 4, 2013 - House Democratic Caucus

OLYMPIA — Public safety and consumer protection took center stage earlier today (Monday, March 4, 2013) in a legislative package the House of Representatives OK’d and sent across the rotunda for Senate consideration. Topping the list was House Bill 1529, prime-sponsored by state Rep. Derek Stanford, D-Bothell. Involving the disclosure of information by landlords in the screening of potential tenants, the measure is aimed at preventing discrimination against the victims of domestic violence when they are seeking housing. Right now, … Continue reading

House unanimously approves Tarleton’s safe keys legislation

March 4, 2013 - Rep. Gael Tarleton

House unanimously approves Tarleton’s safe keys legislation

State Representative Gael Tarleton’s bill requiring landlords to safely secure spare keys to their rental units was approved by the House of Representatives today by a vote of 98-0. Tarleton introduced the measure after hearing Dana Widrig’s story. Widrig was brutally beaten and raped in her apartment complex three years ago. Her attacker was a maintenance employee who worked at Widrig’s apartment complex. He gained access to a spare set of keys to her rental unit because they weren’t properly … Continue reading

Listen to Rep. Mary Helen Roberts on KUOW’s The Conversation

March 4, 2013 - Rep. Mary Helen Roberts

Listen to Rep. Mary Helen Roberts on KUOW’s The Conversation

Should minors convicted of crimes serve life sentences without parole? Some prisoners in Washington state are currently serving life sentences without the possibility of parole for crimes they committed when they were under the age of 18. Is that just? Last year, the US Supreme Court ruled that a mandatory life-without-parole sentence for juveniles violates the Eighth Amendment. Ross Reynolds with KUOW’s The Conversation discussed the issue with Rep. Mary Helen Roberts in today’s show.

Rep. Orwall’s bill would compensate those wrongly convicted

March 1, 2013 - Rep. Tina Orwall

Rep. Orwall’s bill would compensate those wrongly convicted

Can you imagine getting charged with a horrible crime that you did not commit?  And what if the evidence that would prove you were innocent was not allowed in the court room and you spent almost two decades in prison?  This is what happened to Alan Northrop and Larry Davis, who were convicted of rape in 1993 and were cleared of all charges in 2010 when the DNA evidence was allowed into a review hearing.     And what did they receive … Continue reading

Listen to Rep. Tina Orwall talk about her bill to help former prostitutes and sex-trade victims get a new start in life

February 25, 2013 - Rep. Tina Orwall

Listen to Rep. Tina Orwall talk about her bill to help former prostitutes and sex-trade victims get a new start in life

Radio report on Orwall’s HB 1292, which allows people convicted of prostitution, as a result of being victims of commercial sex trafficking-related crimes, to apply to vacate their criminal records.

GIVE JUVENILE OFFENDERS A CHANCE AT REDEMPTION – special to the Everett Herald

February 23, 2013 - Rep. Mary Helen Roberts

GIVE JUVENILE OFFENDERS A CHANCE AT REDEMPTION – special to the Everett Herald

By Rep. Mary Helen Roberts, Rev. Paul Benz and Sr. Sharon Park  The United States is the only country on earth that sentences children to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Washington is one of 29 states in which life without parole is a mandatory sentence for some children. However, recent United States Supreme Court rulings require that Washington reevaluate the way we sentence children for crimes and change our laws. Over the last several years, the U.S. … Continue reading

Bill would improve adoption process to protect children from abuse

February 21, 2013 - Rep. Mary Helen Roberts

Bill would improve adoption process to protect children from abuse

Do you remember the horrific story of Hana Williams, an adopted Ethiopian girl living in Sedro-Woolley? A couple of years ago her adoptive parents starved her, abused her, beat her repeatedly and left her outside on a cold night, which ultimately killed her.   Hana’s story is not unique. A recent DSHS report on severe abuse of adopted children recounts 15 cases of adopted children who found anything but loving homes. Two of these children perished and the thirteen survivors … Continue reading

‘Kelsey Smith Act’ featured in KIRO TV news story

February 20, 2013 - Rep. John McCoy

‘Kelsey Smith Act’ featured in KIRO TV news story

Prime-sponsored by state Rep. John McCoy, the “Kelsey Smith Act” contained in House Bill 1897 would require wireless-telecommunications providers to provide call-location information for cell phones in an emergency. Such information would be given out only to law-enforcement folks, and it couldn’t be used for any reason other than an emergency-response. One day in June 2007, a young Kansas woman named Kelsey Smith was abducted from a department store. Her cell-phone signal was picked up an hour after Ms. Smith … Continue reading

Safe keys bill heard in House Judiciary Committee

February 14, 2013 - Rep. Gael Tarleton

Safe keys bill heard in House Judiciary Committee

Dana Widrig was brutally beaten and raped in her apartment complex three years ago. Her attacker was a maintenance employee who worked at Widrig’s apartment complex. He gained access to a spare set of keys to her rental unit because they weren’t properly secured by the landlord. As it turns out, there’s no legal requirement for a landlord to safely secure spare or master keys to rental units. Rep. Gael Tarleton (D-Ballard) has a bill, HB 1647, that looks to … Continue reading

Rep. Orwall’s E-Newsletter for February 8, 2013

February 8, 2013 - nietol

Rep. Orwall’s E-Newsletter for February 8, 2013

Dear Neighbors, Believe it or not, we are already one month into the 2013 legislative session.  Only 11 more weeks to go!  The session follows a cut-off calendar, which determines the deadlines for public hearings and executive action on bills, as well as floor action in both the House and Senate. We are coming up on our first cut-off, February 22, which is the last day a policy bill can be considered in committee in its house of origin.  Fiscal … Continue reading

“Lock them up, put them in a safe”

February 6, 2013 - mcvicara

A very brave woman, Dana Widrig, inspired me to introduce my first bill last week. She was brutally attacked in her apartment when a maintenance worker gained access to the landlord’s open lockbox and substitute keys. Since this tragedy took place in 2009, Dana has fought to raise the legal standards for protection of substitute keys, and you can read more about her hard work and this legislation in our interviews with King 5. This is both a public safety … Continue reading

Rep. Tarleton’s Feb. 5, 2013 E-Newsletter

February 6, 2013 - mcvicara

Rep. Tarleton’s Feb. 5, 2013 E-Newsletter

Friends and neighbors, I am excited to share with you my first e-newsletter. We are now starting the fourth week of the session, and I want to catch you up on how I’ve been working for you here in Olympia. Legislative Update Video If you missed the introductory video from the first week of session, please take a moment to watch it and learn about my goals for this year. It also outlines how you can reach me during the … Continue reading

Scenes from opening day

January 15, 2013 - toyrab

Scenes from opening day

The gavel has fallen in the House of Representatives and the 63rd Washington State Legislature is underway. State Representative Jamie Pedersen, Chair of the House Judiciary Committee, wasted no time getting to work. Here we see him being interviewed by KIRO News’ Essex Porter on proposed gun control legislation.

Hudgins named chair of Appropriations Subcommittee on General Government

December 19, 2012 - bergstromg

Hudgins named chair of Appropriations Subcommittee on General Government

Rep. Zack Hudgins (D-Tukwila) will serve as the chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on General Government. “Citizens need services that work for them and their families,” said Hudgins. “My job, as a citizen-lawmaker, is to be an advocate for friends and neighbors back home in the 11th District.” Hudgins served a similar role last session, although the budget committees were structured differently. According to the House of Representatives, the newly organized subcommittee oversees the funding of 70 state agencies … Continue reading

Rep. Moscoso to vice-chair Transportation Committee

December 18, 2012 - nietol

Rep. Moscoso to vice-chair Transportation Committee

From the look of his committee assignments, Rep. Luis Moscoso’s second term in the House of Representatives will be very busy, but he’s no longer the new kid on the block. The Mountlake Terrace Democrat is no stranger to transportation issues; his stellar work in that committee the past two years was decisive in his reappointment, but as one of three vice chairs this time around. “I am honored to assist in vice chair responsibilities.  My background in transit gives … Continue reading

Roberts takes on new role in Olympia

December 11, 2012 - toyrab

Roberts takes on new role in Olympia

State Representative Mary Helen Roberts (D-Lynnwood) received her committee assignments for the upcoming legislative session when the House Democratic Caucus released their committee structure this morning. Rep. Roberts, a longtime advocate for reforming the state’s criminal justice system, will serve as vice-chair of the House Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness (PSEP) Committee. The committee’s jurisdiction includes prevention, penalties and sentencing for criminals. PSEP will also likely consider implementation issues regarding Initiative 502, the voter-approved measure that legalized the recreational use … Continue reading

Goodman named chair of House Public Safety Committee

December 11, 2012 - bergstromg

Rep. Roger Goodman (D-Kirkland) has been picked to chair the House Public Safety Committee. “In a heartbeat, a violent crime or a natural disaster can take away everything — your home, your family, your life,” Goodman said. “Our state laws must do whatever is possible to prevent crime and respond to floods, wildfires and earthquakes, because lives are literally at stake.” Goodman, an attorney and criminal justice expert, has served as vice chair of the House Judiciary Committee for the … Continue reading

Hansen to serve as vice chair of Judiciary Committee

December 10, 2012 - robertsg

Rep. Drew Hansen of Bainbridge Island has been named vice chair of the influential House Judiciary Committee in the 2013 Legislature by the Democratic majority. Hansen, a practicing attorney in Seattle, is entering his first full term in the House. He was appointed to a vacant seat in late 2011. The Judiciary Committee considers a panoply of subjects relating to criminal and civil law, the courts and judicial administraion. Hansen also was named to the newly formed Finance Committee and the … Continue reading

Rep. Goodman on cannabis legalization: The world is watching, and the hard work has just begun

December 7, 2012 - bergstromg

Rep. Goodman on cannabis legalization: The world is watching, and the hard work has just begun

The voters of Washington state, who turned out in greater numbers — 81 percent –than any other state in the nation, did two brave things in approving marriage equality and ending cannabis prohibition. I am very proud of how many Washingtonians voted, and of the choices they made. Washington state’s constitution embraces the principle of personal liberty, and after more than 100 years our citizens still cherish that principle. But with cannabis, or what we used to call “marijuana,” the … Continue reading

Stiffer penalties for drunk drivers approved by governor

March 29, 2012 - Rep. Chris Hurst

OLYMPIA — The penalties for driving drunk in Washington just got tougher now that Gov. Chris Gregoire has signed House Bill 2216 into law. The measure, sponsored by Representative Christopher Hurst (D-Enumclaw), ensures justice for families and friends who lose a loved one to a drunk driver. Rep. Hurst, a veteran police detective, introduced the bill after witnessing immeasurable suffering and carnage around drunk driving accidents time and time again throughout his 25 year career. “A vehicle operated under the … Continue reading

Kitsap state Rep. Sherry Appleton retains key spots on state panels

March 23, 2012 - Rep. Sherry Appleton

State Rep. Sherry Appleton (D-Poulsbo, 23rd) was appointed this month to a fourth term as a legislative member of the Washington State Sentencing Guidelines Commission. Appleton, the senior member of the 23rd-district legislative team, will also continue as a member of the Washington Council on Aging, which advises the governor and other state officials on matters pertaining to policies, programs and services affecting older Washingtonians. The Sentencing Commission is directed by state law “to evaluate and monitor adult and juvenile … Continue reading

Rep. Hansen’s floor speech on SHB 2747 improving job training for firefighters at Fire Service Academies

February 11, 2012 - mcvicara

Rep. Sherry Appleton reappointed to key state positions

June 27, 2011 - frizzelld

Retains seats on Sentencing Guidelines Commission, Council on Aging OLYMPIA – State Rep. Sherry Appleton (D-Poulsbo, 23rd district) was reappointed this month to continue serving on the Washington State Sentencing Guidelines Commission and the state’s Council on Aging. This will be Appleton’s third term on the sentencing commission and her second as a member of the Council on Aging. According to its website, the Sentencing Guidelines Commission is directed by state law “to evaluate and monitor adult and juvenile sentencing … Continue reading

Dickerson law targets pimps involved in child prostitution

May 3, 2011 - boyesr

OLYMPIA—With a stroke of her pen today, Gov. Chris Gregoire gave law enforcement officials in Washington long-sought tools to investigate and prosecute pimps involved in child prostitution. The new law, proposed by Rep. Mary Lou Dickerson (D-Seattle), allows law enforcement officers to record conversations with only one party’s consent if there is probable cause to believe the suspect is involved in the commercial sexual exploitation of children. This authority is currently granted only for suspected drug crimes. “This is about … Continue reading

New law protects victims of serious domestic violence

April 20, 2011 - boyesr

OLYMPIA—With a stroke of her pen on Wednesday, Gov. Chris Gregoire strengthened  legal protections for victims of severe domestic violence by making it harder for their abusers to terminate or weaken long-term protection orders.  “This law tells survivors of domestic violence that Washington is on your side and will work harder from now on to protect your safety and peace of mind,” said David Frockt (D-Seattle), the author of the new protections. Long-term protection orders are typically issued only in … Continue reading

Video: Jinkins on clean water, public health

April 7, 2011 - waldrefj

On April 7, 2011, Rep. Laurie Jinkins, D-Tacoma, spoke on the House floor in support of Senate Bill 5364, dealing with public water systems to ensure safe drinking water. Jinkins sponsored the House companion bill, HB 1468.

House advances set of public-safety measures

February 26, 2011 - waldrefj

OLYMPIA — Legislators centered their attention on public safety this morning, approving several bills meant to protect Washington residents. Safety improvements on roadways, in homes and neighborhoods, and even in cyberspace were the focus of today’s floor session in the House of Representatives. “Protecting our people and our neighborhoods is a fundamental part of our work as lawmakers. It also strikes us all on a personal level.  During our public hearings, we heard deeply moving stories from Washingtonians who came … Continue reading

Van De Wege says drug companies should pay for safe drug disposal

February 3, 2011 - waldrefj

OLYMPIA – Washington is one of 16 states where accidental poisonings have surpassed auto accidents to become the number one cause of accidental deaths.  Most accidental poisonings are from medications, which can be found in almost every household. In a hearing before the House Environment Committee today, Rep. Kevin Van De Wege discussed why he is pushing House Bill 1370, which would create a statewide program for the collection, transportation and disposal of unwanted medications, funded by drug companies.  The … Continue reading

Legislation by Rep. Goodman would protect victims of stalkers

February 1, 2011 - bergstromg

Rep. Roger Goodman testifying in favor of House Bill 1180, which would strengthen protections for victims of stalking and harassment.

DNA bill to keep offenders from progressing to more violent crime, lower investigation costs

January 20, 2011 - waldrefj

Rep. Darneille and Sen. Fraser introduce legislation requiring DNA collection at time of arrest for the most serious of crimes; privacy safeguards in place OLYMPIA — Washington state Rep. Jeannie Darneille, D-Tacoma, and Sen. Karen Fraser, D-Thurston County, have introduced legislation to decrease violent crime against vulnerable women and children, and stop offenders earlier in their criminal progression. The bill provides for the collection of DNA to help solve “cold cases” and will also exonerate those who have not committed … Continue reading