Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

2011 Legislation

Community Safety


Government Accountability


Safeguarding Consumers


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Community Safety Header

HB 1126 (Ross)/ SB 5799 (King): Anti-Gang Bill - Prevention, intervention and prosecution (pdf)

       HB 1126         SB 5799
  *1/19: Public Hearing     * 2/14: Referred to Senate Judiciary Committee

According to the 2009 National Gang Threat Assessment by the National Gang Intelligence Center and the National Drug Intelligence Center, there are more than 2,000 gangs with 37,000 active members in the Northwest Region, which includes Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and Wyoming.  In 2006, an informal AGO statewide survey of street-level investigators reported an approximate 300 percent increase in gang activity.  This proposal includes both civil and criminal provisions for adults and juveniles, needed to curb gang violence that plagues our state -- from Spokane to Seattle to Yakima and beyond. Read more

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Corrections Savings (pdf) 

       HB 1037         SB 5024

*3/3: Voted out of House
*4/4: Voted out of Senate
*4/13: House refuses to concur in Senate amendments, asks Senate to recede
*4/20: Senate recedes from amendments
*5/3: Signed by the Governor

    * 1/13: Public Hearing
*2/17: Exec Hearing - Passes Human Services Committee
*2/21: Referred to Rules

HB 1037 (Ross)/SB 5024 (Hargrove): 3 Strikes on Frivolous Legal Actions

Washington law allows litigants to proceed at public expense when payment of court fees would be a financial hardship.  In fact, most inmates who file lawsuits against the state do so at public expense.  This proposal would restrict inmates from filing suit in state court at public expense if they previously brought three or more cases determined to be frivolous or malicious or to have failed to state a claim of relief. It would not prevent inmates from bringing claims at their own expense, or proceeding at public expense if they are in imminent risk of serious physical harm.  This would bring Washington law in line with the Federal Prison Litigation Reform Act. Read more. 

HB 1034 (Takko)/SB 5025 (Hargrove): Eliminate public records act penalty awards for inmates

       HB 1034       SB 5025
  *1/20: Public Hearing
    * 3/2: Voted out of Senate
*4/6: Voted out of House
*4/15: Senate concurred in House amendment
*5/10: Signed by the Governor

As much as 75 percent of all Public Records Act litigation against the state involves inmates.  The financial burden of defending these lawsuits is significant and falls on taxpayers.  The act requires the award of penalties of $5 - $100 per day to requestors who prevail in actions seeking access to public records.  Some incarcerated criminals submit strategic requests intended to force mistakes. This allows them to claim denial of records and sue for penalties.  Our proposal would eliminate the financial incentive that drives inmates to abuse the Public Records Act, but preserves their ability to access public records and obtain counsel for meritorious claims. Read more. 

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SB 5384 (Haugen): Failing to Wear Safety Belt 

       SB 5384
  * 1/24: Referred to Senate Judiciary Committee

Modifies civil action admissibility provisions with regard to failing to wear safety belt assemblies and failing to use child restraint systems.

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Gov. Accountability Header

Enforcing the Public Records Act (pdf)

       HB 1044         SB 5237
  *1/20: Public Hearing 
    *2/7: Public Hearing

HB 1044 (Hurst)/SB 5237 (White): Office of Open Records  

Citizens denied access to public records and public meetings have no choice but to go to court. Lawsuits are costly and time-consuming.  In addition, state agencies and local governments face a logjam of citizen complaints, costly litigation and uncertainty regarding potential liability requiring payment of attorneys' fees, costs and daily penalties. Many states provide an independent administrative review process to resolve these complaints without litigation.  The Attorney General and State Auditor propose the creation of an independent Office of Open Records to enforce the Public Records Act. Read more. 

       HB 1139         SB 5062
  * 1/20: Public Hearing
* 1/27:  Public Hearing
    * 1/24: Public Hearing

HB 1139 (Armstrong)/SB 5062 (Pridemore): Public Records Act Notice and Cure 

This proposal would require records requesters seeking court penalties to first notify a government agency of their intent to file a lawsuit over denied records, allowing agencies time to correct possible mistakes, solving disputes before they turn into lawsuits. Read more.

HB 1033 (Eddy)/SB 5022 (Kilmer): Public Records Act Statute of Limitations

       HB 1033         SB 5022
  *1/20: Public Hearing

* 3/4: Voted out of Senate
*3/14: Public Hearing

A recent appellate decision opens the door to a larger number of costly lawsuits against government agencies. This proposal closes the loophole in the law 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. Read more. 

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Eminent Domain Abuse (pdf)

    HB 1035         SB 5077
  *1/19: Public Hearing
    *3/7: Voted out of Senate
*3/9: Referred to House Judiciary Committee

HB 1035 (Springer)/SB 5077 (Pflug): Prohibiting the use of eminent domain for private economic development  

State law encourages municipalities to redevelop community renewal areas using private enterprise.  But the blight statute allows -- and even encourages -- what is explicitly prohibited by the state Constitution, Art. 1, Sect. 16, which says "private property shall not be taken for private use."  This proposal would prohibit the exercise of eminent domain for private economic development. Read more.

HB 1036 (Goodman)/SB 5078 (Shin): Curing Blight 

    HB 1036         SB 5078
  *1/19: Public Hearing
    * 1/20: Public Hearing
* 2/7: Exec Hearing - Passes Senate Gov Ops Committee
*2/8: Referred to Rules

Washington's Community Renewal Law allows municipalities to eliminate "blight" using the power of eminent domain.  "Blight" includes any physical deterioration, inappropriate uses of land, diversity of ownership, high levels of unemployment or poverty, crime, as well as factors affecting welfare and morals.  This definition is too broad and vague, putting landowners at risk. Our proposal would give property owners 120 days to improve blighted property before condemnation and allow Washington property owners to appeal to a county Superior Court to remove a blight designation. Read more. 

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Consumer Protection Header

HB 1032 (Goodman)/SB 5079 (Conway): Consumer Protection Enforcement (pdf)

       HB 1032         SB 5079
  *1/12: Public Hearing 
    * 1/28: Public Hearing 
* 2/15: Exec Hearing - Passes Judiciary Committee
*2/25: Passes Senate Rules Committee

Washington is the only state in the nation that awards defendants attorney fees in a government enforcement actions without requiring a determination that the state’s case was frivolous or malicious. Additionally, the state can lose simply because the court reaches a narrow, odd or unexpected result, or because of a split decision. Amendments to the state’s Consumer Protection Act, RCW 19.86.080, are needed to protect the state from unjustified  attorney fee awards in consumer protection cases. Changes are also needed to reverse a recent court ruling that essentially makes Washington state a safe harbor for unfair and deceptive  business practices by Washington  companies if those practices are only targeted at out-of-state consumers. Read more.

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HB 1146 (Kenney)/SSB 5023 (Prentice): Unauthorized Practice of Law Affecting Immigrants (pdf)

       HB 1146         SSB 5023
  * 1/13: Referred to House Judiciary Committee

* 3/1: Voted out of Senate
*4/7: Voted out of House
*4/21: Senate concurred in House amendments
*5/3: Signed by the Governor

The creation of the “immigration assistant” status under Washington’s Immigration Assistant Practices Act has inadvertently opened the doors to the unauthorized practice of law. Changes are needed to protect immigrants who are living and working in the U.S. from erroneous legal advice. Proposed amendments to RCW 19.154 eliminate the “immigration assistant” designation and the requirement to file with the Secretary of State’s Office. The bill clarifies that individuals who provide immigration-related services may not provide legal assistance and specifically prohibits licensed notaries public from engaging in deceptive advertising. Read more.

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HB 1145 (Overstreet)/SB 5060 (Carrell): Mail Theft (pdf)

       HB 1145         SB 5060

* 3/1: Voted out of House
*4/5: Voted out of Senate
*4/13: House concurred in Senate amendments
4/27: Signed by the Governor

    * 1/12: Referred to Senate Judiciary Committee

In the last year, U.S. Postal Inspectors have arrested more than 6,000 mail theft suspects nationwide. Stolen mail is often a thief’s first step to worse crimes, including financial fraud and identity theft. However, the problem has grown beyond federal resources. Washington laws do not distinguish between mail theft and other misdemeanor thefts. For law enforcement in our state to continue to make a dent in this epidemic, mail theft should be treated as the serious offense it has become. The Attorney General’s Law Enforcement Group Against Identity Theft (LEGIT) Task Force recommends new legislation to define mail theft and possession of stolen mail as Class C felonies. Read more.

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