OLYMPIA -- The Washington State Attorney General's Office today asked the state Supreme Court to review a recent lower court decision that ruled Initiative 655 (I-655) unconstitutional.
The initiative, approved by voters in 1996, makes it unlawful to hunt certain game animals with the aid of bait or dogs. In June, a Jefferson County District Court judge ruled that I-655 violates the Washington State Constitution by dealing with more than one subject. As a result of that ruling, charges against several defendants accused of unlawfully hunting black bear with bait were dismissed.
Jefferson County Prosecutor Juelie Dalzell asked the Attorney General to appeal the District Court decision. The Attorney General is seeking direct review by the Supreme Court in order to eliminate confusion throughout the state regarding enforcement of the law.
"Cases involving this issue are getting conflicting rulings in local courts," said Attorney General Christine Gregoire. "We're asking the Supreme Court to resolve the legal questions so we can ensure uniform hunting regulations statewide and avoid the time and cost of on-going litigation over I-655."
Gregoire is seeking the direct review on the basis that uncertainty over the voters' initiative is an urgent issue of statewide importance that calls for a prompt resolution.