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Published on Friday, March 29, 2013

Law and Justice - Noteworthy bills moving this week

Here is a brief update on law and justice bills that are on the move:

SSB 5010 deals with courts sentencing offenders to community custody and the conditions that may be imposed. Some conditions include refraining from possessing or consuming controlled substances and alcohol. With the passage of I-502, certain amounts of marijuana possession have been made legal. This bill attempts to align the community custody provisions with this change and would allow courts to order an offender to refrain from consumption of marijuana while under community custody. This bill passed the Senate unanimously and is scheduled for a hearing in the House Public Safety Committee at 8:00am on April 2.

HB 1613 seeks to help the Criminal Justice Training Commission (CJTC) maintain its firing range. Currently, when the CJTC rents out its firing range facility for various purposes, the rent paid goes into the state general fund. Therefore, there is no return from renting out the facility, and no funding to repair or maintain the facility after the many uses by outside groups. To remedy this, a special account will be created for the funds collected from renting out the facility so CJTC can use the funds to repair and maintain the firing range. AWC supports these measures and recognizes the importance of the CJTC in training our many municipal law enforcement officers. This bill is scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Law & Justice Committee at 1:30pm on April 1.

SHB 1580 would allow a court to assess an additional fee of up to $25 for failure to respond to a traffic infraction or failure to appear for a hearing. Even if the person is later found to have not committed the offense, the court could still impose up to a $25 fine. This legislation would not apply to commercial driver license holders. This bill is scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Law & Justice Committee at 1:30pm on April 1.

HB 1601 allows an individual to pay a monetary traffic penalty on a payment plan or through a community restitution program. AWC is supporting this legislation after securing that it is an option for courts to participate and not a mandate. This legislation may be a cost-savings for some because it could reduce the number of DWLS 3 cases that come to courts. HB 1601 is scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Law & Justice Committee at 1:30pm on April 1.

SB 5591 has received quite a lot of attention in the last few days. This bill would specifically authorize the Department of Licensing (DOL) to issue confidential driver licenses, license plates, and identicards to law enforcement officers in undercover or covert law enforcement activities. It would also require DOL to investigate the conviction record of any employee who has access to information related to the issuance of confidential license plate, identicards, or vessel registration, because that information may reveal the identity of that person or the nature of their work. It exempts these records from public disclosure as well.

A records request in 2012 by the Kitsap Sun sparked this DOL-sponsored legislation after they reported the number of confidential license plates issued in 2012. DOL has operated this program for years and states that employees familiar with the program take the responsibility very seriously.

When the bill arrived in the House, Rep. Matt Shea (R-Spokane-Valley) and Rep. Jason Overstreet (R-Lynden) stated they would like to establish some oversight to the program, while still protecting the identity of these law enforcement officers. This bill went through the Senate with no opposing testimony and is currently in the House Transportation Committee. 

Categories: Law & justice