Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson


Only open government bills, eminent domain bill sidelined so far

OLYMPIA – Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle are again showing their support for Washington State Attorney General’s proposed legislation, enabling most of his proposals to advance beyond the Legislature’s first major cutoff date of the year.

Monday was the last day for bills to be voted out of their “houses of origin.” It’s a date when many proposals are allowed to quietly expire.

“I’m grateful to the lawmakers who’ve sponsored these bills and done the hard work required to navigate a challenging legislative calendar,” McKenna said. “However, there’s still a long road ahead for these ideas to increase consumer protections, make communities safer, and save taxpayer money.”

The following AGO bills will advance to the next phase of the legislative session:

  • Gangs: HB 1126, sponsored by Rep. Christopher Hurst, D-Enumclaw and Rep. Charles Ross, R-Naches, among others, injects money into gang prevention and intervention programs and allows communities to file civil protection orders against known gang members. The bill is now categorized as “necessary to implement the budget,” allowing more time for the House Public Safety Committee to consider it.
  • Abusive lawsuits from inmates: Two AGO bills address costly, frivolous records requests filed from behind bars. HB 1037, sponsored by Rep. Ross and others, bars inmates who have filed three or more frivolous legal actions from filing additional taxpayer-funded lawsuits. It passed the House unanimously on March 3. The other bill, SB 5025, sponsored by Sen. Jim Hargrove, D-Hoquiam, Sen. Randi Becker, R-Eatonville and others, passed the Senate by a vote of 45-4.
  • Stolen mail: HB 1145, sponsored by Rep. Jason Overstreet, R-Blaine, Rep. Hurst and others, aims to reduce identity theft by making mail theft a felony. It passed the House by a vote of 93-3.
  • Immigration assistants: SB 5023, sponsored by Sen. Steve Conway, D-Tacoma and others, was written to protect immigrants who are living and working in the U.S. from erroneous legal advice. It passed the Senate by a vote of 44-5.
  • Property rights: SB 5077, sponsored by Sen. Cheryl Pflug, R-Maple Valley and others, prohibits the use of eminent domain for economic development. It passed the Senate today by a vote of 45-4.
  • Open government: SB 5022  is proposed to save money by clarifying the statute of limitations for lawsuits under the Public Records Act. It passed the Senate by a vote of 47-0.

Legislators were not able to keep two of the AGO’s open government bills moving. Attorney General McKenna had proposed one bill (HB 1044/SB 5237) to create an independent Office of Open Records to enforce the Public Records Act. He proposed another (HB 1139/SB 5062) to 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. The bills received hearings but were never voted out of committee. One property rights bill was also allowed to die. SB 5078, sponsored by Sen. Paull Shin, D-Edmonds and others, would have given property owners 120 days to improve blighted property before condemnation. The bill passed out of committee but was never scheduled for a vote of the entire Senate.

The next major cutoff date for the legislative session is April 12. Forty of Attorney General McKenna’s bills have been passed into law, with bipartisan support, since 2005.

More information:
The AGO Legislative page

Janelle Guthrie, Director of Communications, (360) 586-0725