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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 12, 2008
Attorney General’s government accountability, community safety and consumer protection legislation moves past committee cut-off

 OLYMPIA – As the Washington Legislature moves toward today’s committee cut-off, the bulk of Attorney General Rob McKenna’s priority bills remain alive and moving forward.

 Highlights:

Government Accountability: Three measures requested by McKenna promoting government accountability and access to public records have passed out of committee. 

  • HB 3292, prime-sponsored by House Majority Leader Lynn Kessler, D-Hoquiam, and House Minority Leader Richard DeBolt, R-Chehalis, would require audio recording of executive sessions.
  • SSB 6704, prime-sponsored by Sen. Darlene Fairley, D-Lake Forest Park, would require agencies to increase public notice of special meetings by posting a notice on the agency’s Web site and in its main administrative office. 
  •  HB 2920, prime-sponsored by Kessler, requires the Attorney General's Office to develop an eminent domain brochure, explaining eminent domain law, the authority of government agencies to use the law and rights of landowners affected by the law.  Government staff will be required to mail a copy of the brochure with each notice of planned final action in condemnation proceedings.

  Three other proposals are dead for the year:

  • OPMA Model Rules (HB 2721/SB 6705)
  •  Providing penalty awards to victims’ compensation fund (HB 3219/SB 6294)
  • Modifying the State’s Blight Statute (HB 2921/ SB 6595)

Community Safety: Three pieces of legislation to further enhance Internet safety for Washington’s children and two bills to provide further assistance to domestic violence victims have passed from committee. All three Senate bills are prime-sponsored by Sen. Tracey Eide, D-Federal Way.

  •  SSB 6373  creates the crime of viewing depictions of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct.
  • SB 6372, which allows non-commissioned law enforcement officials the authority to view child pornography as part of their investigation, has passed out of committee. Its companion bill, HB 2565 <http://apps.leg.wa.gov/billinfo/summary.aspx?bill=2565&year=2008> , prime-sponsored by Al O’Brien, D-Mountlake Terrace, has passed from committee as well. 
  •  SSB 6500 requests changes that would allow state employees to qualify for shared leave when they are victims of domestic violence. The bill passed the Senate unanimously and was referred to the House Committee on State Government and Tribal Affairs. Its companion bill, SHB 2946, prime-sponsored by Mary Lou Dickerson, D-Seattle, is in the Senate Rules Committee.

Identity Theft: Three bills requested by McKenna to help fight the growing problem of identity theft have also passed from committee.

  • HB 2636 creates a statutory requirement for police to take reports from identity theft victims. The bill passed the House unanimously and was referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
  • HB 2637   allows records provided by out-of-state businesses to be authenticated by affidavit rather than in person in criminal cases. The bill was passed to the House Rules Committee.
  • SHB 2638   would allow prosecutors to bring separate charges against an accused identity thief for each use of a particular piece of someone’s personal information. It was referred to the House Appropriations Committee and appears to be dead at this point.
  • All three House Bills are prime-sponsored by Rep. Kirk Pearson, R-Monroe.

Mortgage foreclosure fraud: HB 2791, prime-sponsored by Rep. Patricia Lantz, D-Gig Harbor, helps reduce foreclosure rescue schemes that include an option to allow the original homeowner to buy or lease back the property from a buyer. The bill unanimously passed the House was referred to the Senate Consumer Protection and Housing Committee.
 

Third-party marketing of cell phone numbers: SSHB 2479 , prime-sponsored by Rep. Dawn Morrell, D-Puyallup, incorporated Attorney General’s proposed legislation (HB 2702) and would require any person in the business of compiling, marketing or selling phone numbers for commercial purposes to obtain a consumer’s express opt-in consent before publishing his or her wireless phone number in a directory. The bill passed the House 92-3 and was referred to the Senate Consumer Protection and Housing Committee.
 

Spyware:  SHB 2879, prime-sponsored by Speaker Pro Tempore Jeff Morris, D-Anacortes , and SSB 6499, prime-sponsored by Sen. Brian Weinstein, D-Mercer Island, would remedy loopholes and weaknesses in Washington’s Computer Spyware Statute, RCW 19.270 . Both bills were passed to their respective Rules Committees for second reading.
 
 “Our consumer protection package has received great bipartisan support from legislators in both the House and Senate,” McKenna. “Many agree that this is the right time to give prosecutors and victims new tools to fight identity theft, prevent desperate homeowners from falling prey to cons and protect consumers’ right to privacy. Lastly, we’re asking for legislation to help the Attorney General’s Office continue to punish companies that send spyware over the Internet.”

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Media Contacts: Kristin Alexander, Media Relations Manager – Seattle, (206) 464-6432

 Janelle Guthrie, Communications Director, (360) 586-0725

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