I’m pleased to report that the Courthouse Protection Bill, my first Attorney General-Request legislation, has passed the Senate! Senate Bill 5484 extends the protections currently granted to some courthouse, legal and law enforcement personnel to all citizens who visit Washington courthouses. This bipartisan measure, which garnered wide support from law enforcement, prosecutors and victims’ advocates, is now moving through the House of Representatives under the leadership of Rep. Roger Goodman, (D-Kirkland).
I’m very thankful to prime sponsor Sen. Adam Kline, (D-Seattle), and Senate Floor Leader and co-sponsor Joe Fain, (R-Auburn), who were both instrumental in moving this legislation through the Senate. The measure is also sponsored by David Frockt, (D-Seattle), Kevin Ranker, (D-Orcas Island), Christine Rolfes, (D- Bainbridge Island), Mike Padden, (R-Spokane Valley), and Jeanne Kohl-Welles, (D-Seattle).
You can read more about this legislation here.
Major Issues Round-up: “Inside Olympia” with Austin Jenkins
I recently made my first appearance on TVW’s Inside Olympia, the weekly “interview with state leaders” show hosted by Austin Jenkins. It was a fast-moving conversation, and we covered a wide range of issues, including my concerns about the leaking tanks at Hanford, my vision for a Veterans Division with the Attorney General’s Office, issues around I-502 (legalizing marijuana in Washington), and my decision to join a group of my fellow state AGs and the U.S. Department of Justice in filing suit against Standard & Poor's.
It’s a good summary of the major issues we are working on, and I encourage you to watch.
Supporting Marriage Equality
The AGO joined other states in filing two friend-of-the court briefs in support of marriage equality. Two landmark cases, Hollingsworth v. Perry and U.S. v. Windsor, were argued recently before the U.S. Supreme Court. We joined the briefs because Washington has a clear interest in supporting marriage equality and in ensuring the federal government respects marriages that are valid under Washington law.
In the Windsor case, the IRS denied Ms. Windsor a refund on federal estate taxes when her same-sex spouse died—a refund she would have received had her spouse been of the opposite sex. While the state of New York recognized the couple's marriage, the IRS denied the refund under section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).
This case has a direct impact on Washington families. Couples who are legally married in our state may find themselves in this exact situation—being denied important federal benefits. I am pleased that the voice of Washington voters, who approved gay marriage last December with a 54 percent majority, will be part of this critical debate.
AGO New Scam Website
In keeping with my promise to strengthen consumer protection in our state, the Attorney General’s Office has launched a new website dedicated to educating citizens on the latest schemes and scams targeting our communities.
I hope you’ll help spread the word, and visit this site to learn how to recognize and avoid common scams, such as foreign lotteries, Internet fraud, investment schemes and con games that specifically target senior citizens. You can also receive up-to-the-minute updates on the latest scams by following @AGOWA on Twitter and searching for the hashtag: #agoscamalert.
Around the State:
In recent weeks, I have had some great opportunities to visit local communities and engage citizens across Washington. Here are a couple of the highlights:
- Seattle: Spoke at the Seattle University School of Law Public Defense Conference, the Wing Luke Museum and the American Asian Performing Arts Theater.
- Tri-Cities: Toured Hanford, spoke at the Tri-Cities Hispanic Chamber and met with local law enforcement officials.
- Bellevue: Spoke at the Bellevue Police Foundation Breakfast.
- Auburn: Guest speaker at a roundtable discussion with local elected officials and business leaders from South King County, hosted by councilman Pete Von Reichbauer.
- Olympia: Attended Legislative Day events for two senior organizations, law enforcement, retailers, and the construction industry.
I am always looking for good books to read, and when I find one, I like to share it with others.
I’m currently reading A Prayer for the City by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Buzz Bissinger. If you are interested in how local government works, you will enjoy this account of Philadelphia Mayor Ed Rendell, a unique and unorthodox leader, and the serious challenges he faces while leading his city.
If you have read any good titles lately – please let me know!
In other news…