Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

Jan 16 2006

OLYMPIA – Attorney General Rob McKenna today presented legislation recommended by his “Operation: Allied Against Meth” task force to the Senate Human Services and Corrections Committee in Olympia.

Senate Bill 6239 includes additional funding to help local governments fight the meth epidemic, tools for effective meth lab cleanup and more effective treatment, public education and criminal penalties.

“We’re fighting this epidemic on three main fronts: preventing and treating meth addiction; cleaning up the environmental and health damage caused by meth labs; and cracking down on those who continue to manufacture and deal this drug.” McKenna said.

“This bi-partisan legislation represents the expertise of social service providers, law enforcement, prosecutors, real estate professionals, policy makers and elected officials from across the state,” he said. “I’m impressed by the broad-based legislative support and look forward to working this bill through the process.”

Committee Chairman Jim Hargrove, D-Hoquiam, served on the task force and chaired the task force’s subcommittee on demand reduction.

“Meth is a far-reaching and tremendously damaging drug,” said Hargrove, the main sponsor of the legislation. “This bill expands on the substance abuse and mental health treatment solutions we provided in the 2005 session to reduce addiction and it provides tools to communities and landowners to effectively clean up abandoned meth labs.”

Sen. Stephen Johnson, R-Kent, another sponsor and a member of the task force’s subcommittee on cleanup and governance, echoed Hargrove’s sentiments.

“Our subcommittee found that landlords and local governments faced tremendous financial hurdles when attempting to responsibly clean-up properties contaminated by meth,” Johnson said. “This bill goes a long way in protecting them as they work to restore the property for others to use.”

Sen. Mark Doumit, D-Cathlamet, another sponsor, was especially pleased with a pilot program to help his district address the meth epidemic.

“Our local law enforcement will welcome the additional funding for sheriff’s deputies and prosecutors working to fight the plague of meth,” Doumit said. "The overwhelming impact of these drugs on families, the communities and the environment cannot be overstated. We need to make sure all corners of the state have the tools and people to fight this drug war."

Sen. Val Stevens, R-Arlington, the ranking Republican on the committee, said she was happy to lend her support to this important issue. Snohomish County received $500,000 funding in the 2005 session for a pilot project to address the meth epidemic.

“Meth knows no borders,” Stevens said. “It is having a tremendous effect on our children and the social and health services caseload is exploding as parents neglect their children as a result of their addictions.”

Sen. Bob Oke, R-Port Orchard, also said his concern for children and communities played a role in sponsoring the bill.

“It’s heartbreaking to see how this drug is impacting our communities,” Oke said. “This bill strikes a good balance between making sure criminals who produce meth are punished while providing treatment and guidance to help fight the addiction and prevent meth use in the first place.”

Another sponsor, Sen. Luke Esser, R-Bellevue, said the broad-based approach will help the environment, increase education efforts and protect the most vulnerable from exposure to meth.

“I’m particularly happy to see the provision that cracks down on the production of meth when vulnerable adults are present,” Esser said. “Criminals who abuse children and vulnerable adults by exposing them to meth labs deserve tougher penalties.”

Click here to view a one-pager on the bill.

Click here to read the entire bill.

– 30 –

For More Information,
Contact: Janelle Guthrie, AG Media Relations Director, (360) 586-0725

For Interviews with Sponsors:

Sen. Jim Hargrove, 360-786-7646
Sen. Stephen Johnson, 360-786-7692
Sen. Mark Doumit, 360-786-7636
Sen. Val Stevens, 360-786-7676
Sen. Bob Oke, 360-786-7650
Sen. Luke Esser, 360-786-7694