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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 02, 2009
Media Advisory: Attorney General’s Tobacco, Digital Crime Lab bills scheduled for hearings Tuesday

OLYMPIA—The Legislature has scheduled public hearings on two bills requested by Attorney General Rob McKenna this week.

  • Tobacco Internet Sales

The House Health Care and Wellness Committee will hear HB 1249 at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 3, in the John L. O’Brien Building, House Hearing Room A.

“The availability of cheap cigarettes from online sellers undercuts the public health purpose of Washington’s tobacco excise tax,” McKenna said. “Higher costs of tobacco products have been shown to be effective in deterring non-smokers — particularly youth — from starting to smoke, and serve as an incentive for smokers to quit.”

The proposed legislation prohibits the shipment of cigarettes purchased through the Internet or by mail order to anyone other than licensed wholesalers or retailers, correcting a loophole in Washington’s laws regarding age verification and taxation.

HB 1249 is sponsored by Rep. Eileen Cody, D-West Seattle, Rep. Barbara Bailey, R-Oak Harbor and others. A companion bill, SB 5340, received a hearing last week in the Senate Labor, Commerce & Consumer Protection Committee.  SB 5340 is sponsored by Sen. Margarita Prentice, D-Renton and others.

  • Digital Forensics Crime Lab

The Senate Judiciary Committee has scheduled a public hearing on SB 5184 at 10 a.m. Tuesday in the J.A. Cherberg Building, Senate Hearing Room 1.

“More and more frequently, computers and other digital devices are vital links in criminal investigations.” McKenna said. “However local jurisdictions are not equipped to handle the variety and complexity of technology used to commit modern crimes.”

The AGO’s Youth Internet Safety Task Force has recommended the creation of a virtual digital computer forensics lab to assist Internet crime investigations, including child pornography investigations. The proposed legislation directs the Washington State Patrol and the Office of the Attorney General to study the implementation of a virtual digital forensics lab to be housed at the State Patrol.

SB 5184 is sponsored by Sen. Dale Brandland, R-Bellingham, Sen. Steve Hobbs, D-Lake Stevens and others. A companion bill, HB 1248, received a hearing in the House Public Safety Committee last week. The House bill is sponsored by Rep. Al O’Brien, D-Mountlake Terrace and others.

More information on the Attorney General’s proposed legislative package is available online at http://atg.wa.gov/2009Legislation.aspx.

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Contacts:

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

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