OLYMPIA — Governor Jay Inslee today signed Attorney General-request legislation making courthouses safer for the people of Washington. He also signed measures supported by the Attorney General expanding the use of treatment courts and creating a statewide coordinating committee to fight child sex trafficking.
“I’m proud to stand with Gov. Inslee today as he signs these three important public safety measures into law,” said Attorney General Bob Ferguson. “These measures will help increase safety for people who access our courts, improve legal options for veterans and others and protect children from kidnapping and sex trafficking.”
Senate Bill 5484 is a bipartisan measure extending protections currently granted to some courthouse, legal and law enforcement personnel to all visitors to Washington courthouses. The bill:
• Increases the penalty for misdemeanor assault in and around a courthouse to a felony – regardless of the victim; and
• Makes committing a felony in and around a courthouse – regardless of the victim – an aggravating factor for a judge to consider during sentencing.
It garnered wide support from law enforcement, prosecutors and victims’ advocates.
The House of Representatives amended ESB 5484 to clarify exactly when and where the protections apply and to increase notice to the public.
Ferguson thanked the Senate sponsors — Sens. Adam Kline (D-Seattle), David Frockt (D-Seattle), Kevin Ranker (D-Orcas Island), Christine Rolfes (D-Bainbridge Island), Mike Padden (R-Spokane Valley), Joe Fain (R-Auburn) and Jeanne Kohl-Welles (D-Belltown)— for their work in passing the measure.
He also recognized the sponsors of the companion measure in the House: Reps. Roger Goodman (D-Kirkland), Mike Hope (R-Lake Stevens), Eric Pettigrew (D-Seattle), Cathy Dahlquist (R-Enumclaw), Jamie Pedersen (D-Seattle), Kevin Van De Wege (D-Sequim), Cindy Ryu (D-Shoreline) and Luis Moscoso (Mountlake Terrace).
The bill originally passed the Senate 40-9 then passed the House 83-10. The amended version passed the Senate once again 35-9. It will go into effect 90 days from the end of the regular session on July 28, 2013.
SB 5797 is another bipartisan measure—sponsored by Sens. Steve Hobbs (D-Lake Stevens) and Padden— encouraging the Washington State Supreme Court to adopt any administrative orders and court rules of practice and procedure it deems necessary to support the establishment of specialty and therapeutic courts, including veteran treatment courts.
The measure passed the Senate 49-0 then was amended and passed in the House 94-1. The amended version passed the Senate again 47-0. It goes into effect on August 1, 2013.
In Sept. 2011 as a member of the King County Council, Ferguson prime-sponsored the King County ordinance establishing a Veterans’ Treatment Court as a special unit of the King County Regional Mental Health Court.
Another bipartisan measure, SSB 5308, creates the Commercially Sexually Exploited Children Statewide Coordinating Committee, to be convened by the Attorney General’s Office. The committee will include legislators, representatives from state and local agencies, and relevant criminal justice entities and community service providers.
The committee was established to address the sex trafficking of children in our state, to review local and regional efforts to protect these children and prevent trafficking and to make recommendations on statewide laws and practices.
“Washington has been a hotbed for human trafficking due to its proximity to the Canadian border, the number of ports on our coastline, and abundance of rural areas—all of which make trafficking hard to police and detect,” Ferguson said. “The Washington Attorney General’s Office has been a national leader on this issue and I’m proud to continue that work to try to help keep children and our most vulnerable safe from exploitation.”
Ferguson thanked the sponsors— Sens. Kohl-Welles, Mike Carrell (R-Lakewood), Jeannie Darneille (D-Tacoma), Padden, Kline, Jim Hargrove (D-Hoquiam), Karen Fraser (D-Thurston County), Maralyn Chase (D-Shoreline), Karen Keiser (D-Kent), Steve Conway (D-South Tacoma), Annette Cleveland (D-Vancouver) and Rodney Tom (D-Bellevue)— for sponsoring this important child protection measure.
SSB 5308 passed the Senate 49-0, was amended in the House and passed 97-0 and was passed again by the Senate 48-0. It also takes effect on July 28, 2013.
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Contacts: Janelle Guthrie, Director of Communications, (360) 586-0725