Public Safety and Criminal Justice Reform
This legislation creates a publicly accessible database containing all incidents of law enforcement use of deadly force in Washington state. Currently, there is no single location where the public and lawmakers can obtain information about the use of deadly force by law enforcement officers. The bill requires agencies to collect and report key data regarding the incident, including the demographic characteristics of the officers and the members of the public. A centralized, online, publicly accessible repository for data around the state will help law enforcement, academics and policymakers better analyze and make decisions about how law enforcement determines when to use deadly force.
Sponsors: Sen. T’wina Nobles, D-Fircrest, and Rep. John Lovick, D-Mill Creek
This legislation will prohibit the sale or possession of high-capacity magazines holding more than 10 rounds. The bill includes exceptions for grandfathered magazines, law enforcement, military personnel and recreational shooting ranges. Nine states already restrict magazine capacity. Multiple federal courts have upheld these public safety bans as constitutional and the U.S. Supreme Court has allowed these decisions to stand.
Sponsors: Sen. Marko Liias, D-Lynnwood, and Rep. Javier Valdez, D-Seattle
This legislation will ban the sale of military-style assault weapons in Washington state. The bill includes exceptions for grandfathered weapons, law enforcement, military personnel and recreational shooting ranges. Seven states already ban the sale of military-style assault weapons, and the courts have upheld those laws.
Sponsors: Sen. Patty Kuderer, D-Bellevue, and Rep. Strom Peterson, D-Edmonds
Repealing the Death Penalty - SB 5047
This legislation will repeal Washington’s death penalty. On Oct. 11, 2018, the Washington Supreme Court found that Washington’s use of the death penalty is “racially biased,” “arbitrary” and “lacks ‘fundamental fairness.’ ” A study submitted to the court showed black defendants were four times as likely as white defendants to be sentenced to death. The court therefore unanimously found that Washington’s use of the death penalty is unconstitutional, but that ruling does not repeal the death penalty. The bill proposes that, rather than attempt to “fix” Washington’s broken death penalty system, the Legislature should abolish it altogether. It passed the state Senate last session, but failed to pass the House.
Sponsors: Sen. Reuven Carlyle, D-Seattle
Respecting Tribal Treaty Rights
Free, Prior & Informed Consent - SB 5298
This legislation will codify the Attorney Generals Office's Tribal Consent & Consultation Policy, ensuring it cannot be unilaterally eliminated by future Attorneys General. In May 2019, the office adopted a historic policy that requires the the office to obtain free, prior and informed consent from Washington’s 29 federally recognized tribal governments before initiating a program or project that affects tribes, tribal rights, tribal lands and sacred sites.
As part of the legislation, the Attorney General’s Office must refrain from filing any litigation against a tribal government or tribal-owned business without first engaging in meaningful consultation to resolve the dispute, provided that doing so does not violate the rules of professional conduct. Additionally, the policy requires meaningful notice to all federally recognized tribal governments if the Office introduces legislation, files an amicus brief, files a ballot title, or accepts a formal Attorney General Opinion Request that would affect tribes, tribal rights or tribal lands.
Sponsors: Sen. Derek Stanford, D-Bothell
The Attorney General's office and the Department of Fish & Wildlife are jointly proposing legislation to repeal the unenforceable, anti-tribal statute — codified in state law as RCW 77.110. The law not only serves no legal purpose, it casts a shadow over treaty fishing rights and the state’s well-established cooperative fisheries management agreements with tribes. In 1984, Initiative 456 established a state law that declared that only the state could manage natural resources within its borders, and that tribal treaty rights were void, declaring them unconstitutional. This anti-tribal statute runs contrary to Washington’s co-management relationships with the state’s sovereign tribal nations. It is also inconsistent with binding federal court decisions that render the statute unenforceable.
Sponsors: Rep. Debra Lekanoff, D-Bow, and Sen. Kevin Van De Wege, D-Sequim
Price Gouging - SB 5191
This legislation provides a clear and unambiguous definition of price gouging and establishes civil penalties for violations. It also allows businesses to recover any costs that are imposed outside of their control. It comes in light of the COVID-19 pandemic took hold across Washington state this year. As a result, the Attorney General’s Office received more than 1,300 complaints from residents about excessive price increases on items like face masks or hand sanitizer that people needed to stay safe. Yet Washington does not have a specific law to prohibit price gouging during a state of emergency.
Sponsors: Sen. Jeannie Darneille, D-Tacoma
Strengthening the Consumer Protection Act - SB 5025
This legislation adjusts Consumer Protection Act penalties to account for inflation since the penalties were initially adopted. The Consumer Protection Act, Washington’s law protecting consumers against unfair and deceptive business practices, currently allows up to $2,000 in penalties per violation. These penalties have not increased since they were adopted in 1970. They have not kept up with inflation. Most states’ consumer protection penalties are $10,000 or higher — only five states have penalties lower than Washington’s, which is why the National Consumer Law Center characterizes Washington’s consumer protection penalties as “weak.” The bill also proposes enhanced penalty for violations that target vulnerable communities. Additionally, it strengthens the penalties in the Consumer Protection Act for antitrust violations, which have not increased since they were adopted in 1983.
Sponsors: Sen. Christine Rolfes, D-Bainbridge Island