Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

Yesterday we unveiled our legislative agenda for 2010.  We’re gratified that our bills have received support from editorial boards across the state. The Columbian wrote this about our bill to protect vulnerable adults:

McKenna has adopted a badger’s tenacity in his pursuit of those who exploit the elderly. His proposed legislation would add sentencing enhancements for crimes against the elderly who are unable to care for themselves, crimes against the developmentally disabled or against those who reside in long-term care facilities, receive in-home services or are incapacitated and under guardianship law. Typically, these are financial exploitations, and the list is long of people who have cheated the elderly out of money. Shockingly, the crimes often are committed against parents or other relatives.

Additionally, McKenna’s bill would require workers at financial institutions to be trained to recognize and report attempted or actual exploitation of vulnerable adults. Financial institutions would be able to freeze a transaction for up to three business days if exploitation is suspected. As McKenna’s office points out, baby boomers are turning 60 at the rate of one per 7.5 seconds. The growing senior population deserves this added protection, and simple human decency demands that it be applied as quickly as possible.

Our vulnerable adult bill would enable financial institutions to take measures to prevent the exploitation of seniors and adults with developmental disabilities. The bill requires mandated reporters to notify the concerned authorities as soon as possible after the death of a vulnerable adult when the suspected cause of death is abuse, neglect or abandonment. 

The Olympian opined this about our bill to go after users of child pornography:

McKenna is right when he says new technology has played right into the hands of those individuals intent on the sexual exploitation of children. The advent of the Internet and digital cameras have spawned an explosion of visual images of young children at the hands of sexual predators. Those images are shared broadly. McKenna said law enforcement officers capture about a quarter million new images of exploited children each week.

Our bill would redefine the felony crime of possession of child pornography to include images viewed over the internet. The bill would revise state law so that offenders are sentenced based on the nationally-recognized per image standard.

The Tri-City Herald said this about our domestic violence bill:

Not just for statistical reasons but for common decency, McKenna and his allies in the Legislature -- including state Sen. Jerome Delvin, are proposing some new laws this session to impose tougher penalties on repeat offenders in domestic violence cases. The record of abuse here "is astounding," McKenna told Herald reporter Michelle Dupler as he toured the Tri-City domestic violence women's shelter.

This bill ensures tougher sentences for repeat offenders. As we have seen recently, compulsive batterers are among the most dangerous criminals. These crimes often lead to fatalities. It’s our hope that this bill will help put worst offenders behind bars, and protect survivors.

In the area of Consumer Protection, we have proposed two actions: an update to the Lemon Law and a bill to cap “found money” fees. The first would require used car dealers to notify their customers of “lemons” (cars that were returned for some dysfunction when they were new.) The second protects families losing their property due to tax foreclosure against exorbitant “finder’s fees.” 

More legislative updates to follow!


Helen Gaia Thomas