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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 24, 2011
Bill to fight mail theft to receive public hearing

SEATTLE – Attorney General Rob McKenna’s bill to help fight identity theft by increasing penalties for mail theft will be considered by a legislative committee this week.

The House Public Safety Committee has scheduled a public hearing on HB 1145 at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 26, in the O’Brien Building, Hearing Room D. The bill, prime-sponsored by Rep. Jason Overstreet, R-Blaine, and recommended by the Attorney General’s Law Enforcement Group Against Identity Theft (LEGIT) Task Force would define mail theft and possession of stolen mail as Class C felonies.

Other bill hearings this week:

ENFORCING THE PUBLIC RECORDS ACT

Companion bills that would require records requesters seeking court penalties to first notify a government agency of their intent to file a lawsuit over denied records will receive public hearings this week. The proposal would allow agencies time to correct possible mistakes, solving disputes before they turn into lawsuits.

The Senate Government Operations Committee will hold a public hearing on SB 5062, prime-sponsored by Sen. Craig Pridemore, D-Vancouver, at 10 a.m. today in the Cherberg Building, Hearing Room 2. A companion bill, HB 1139, prime-sponsored by Mike Armstrong, R-Wenatchee, will be discussed by the House State Government Committee at 10 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 27, in the O’Brien Building, Hearing Room E.

The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a public hearing on SB 5022 at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 26, in the Cherberg Building, Hearing Room 1. The proposal, prime-sponsored by Derek Kilmer, D-Gig Harbor, closes a loophole created by a recent appellate decision by clarifying both for agencies and requesters that there is a single, one-year statute of limitations under the Public Records Act for any claim where a requester has been denied a record, regardless of whether the agency makes a single response or responds in installments.

CONSUMER PROTECTION ENFORCEMENT

Washington is the only state in the nation that awards defendants attorney fees in a government enforcement action without requiring a determination that the state’s case was frivolous or malicious. SB 5079, prime-sponsored by Sen. Steve Conway, D-Tacoma, permits reasonable attorney fees for a defendant only upon a finding by a judge that the state’s action was frivolous. It also makes it clear that the Consumer Protection Act applies to Washington businesses that deal only with out-of-state consumers.

The Senate Judiciary Committee has scheduled a public hearing on the bill at 1:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 28, in the Cherberg Building, Hearing Room 1.

More information on the Attorney General’s proposed legislative package is available online at http://www.atg.wa.gov/2011Legislation.aspx.


Media Contacts: Kristin Alexander, Media Relations Manager, (206) 464-6432, kalexander@atg.wa.gov. Primary contact for Consumer Protection bills.

Janelle Guthrie, Director of Communications, (360) 586-0725. Primary contact for Government Accountability bills.

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