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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 16, 2007
All McKenna’s priorities alive after major legislative hurdle

OLYMPIA…As the Legislature enters the second major phase of the 2007 session, Attorney General Rob McKenna was pleased all his 2007 priorities remain alive and continue to progress toward becoming law with several scheduled for hearings in the next few days.

“I thank the Legislature, Senators and Representatives from both political parties, for their support of my office’s top legislative priorities,” McKenna said. “Together we can improve state law for families, victims, seniors and communities.” 

Highlights:

Open Government:  McKenna requested three bills in both the House and the Senate promoting open government and access to public records:

  • SB 5435, creating a “Sunshine Committee” to review public records exemptions, has passed the Senate and is scheduled for a hearing in the House Committee on State Government & Tribal Affairs at 8 a.m. on Friday, March 16.
  • HB 1445, making clean-up changes to the public records act, has passed the House of Representatives.
  • HB 1446,, clarifying the statute of limitations for lawsuits alleging a violation of the PDA, passed the House of Representatives

“As Sunshine Week comes to a close, it’s only fitting the Legislature continues to move this package, creating a process that will help to make sure that only the most essential exemptions are retained and eliminating confusion about the statute of limitations,” McKenna said. “This will help limit litigation and help the public retain access to the documents of their government.”

Domestic violence:  Both HB 2119and SB 5953,, increasing penalties for acts of domestic violence involving strangulation, have passed their respective chambers. SB 5953 is scheduled for a hearing in the House Committee on Public Safety & Emergency Preparedness at 1:30 p.m. on March 19.

Identity theft credit freeze:   McKenna held a news conference in early February announcing support for any legislation that allows all consumers to freeze access to their credit reports to prevent identity theft and to “thaw” the frozen access within 15 minutes to make retail purchases or for other reasons.

  •  SB 5826, allowing a credit freeze for all consumers with a 15-minute thaw provision, has passed the Senate and is scheduled for a hearing in the House Financial Services Committee at 8 a.m. on March 20.
  • HB 1755, allowing a credit freeze for all consumers and requiring development of an electronic mechanism to provide a 15-minute thaw, has passed the House.

“This legislation arms consumers with a crucial defense tool – the ability to block access to their credit reports, thereby preventing crooks from opening new accounts in another person’s name,” McKenna said. “At the same time, this law gives consumers the option to allow temporary, restricted access to their credit files for the purpose of buying a car, obtaining a mortgage, or applying for a new credit card.”

Eminent domain notice: McKenna and Gov. Christine Gregoire requested legislation requiring government agencies to provide actual notice to property owners when the agency is considering condemning private property.

  • SB 5444, requiring that a certified letter be sent to property owners and that a legal notice be published in a local newspaper of record, each describing when the agency’s governing body will be holding an open public meeting to consider the condemnation decision, has passed the Senate. Its companion measure, HB 1458, has passed the House of Representatives and is scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, March 20.

“It’s not asking too much to require that a $4.64 certified letter be sent to property owners who may have their property taken without their consent,” McKenna said when he announced this legislation. “We shouldn’t expect people to click through hundreds of web pages every week to make sure their property isn’t being considered for condemnation.”

Anti-gang legislation:   McKenna requested legislation creating the new crime of tagging/gang graffiti, providing longer sentences for crimes committed by members of criminal gangs and those attempting to join criminal gangs, clearly defining “criminal gangs” and creating a work group within the AG’s office to evaluate gang crimes in Washington.

  • SB 5987 creates the work group but no longer includes the definitions, new tagging crime or longer sentences. It has passed the Senate and is scheduled for a hearing in the House Committee on Public Safety & Emergency Preparedness at 10 a.m. on March 22.

Consumer protection:   McKenna has requested two measures to protect consumers this session.

  • HB 1114,  prohibiting the marketing of estate distribution documents by persons not authorized to practice law in this state, has passed the House of Representatives and is scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee at 1:30 p.m. on March 16. This bill was introduced to protect seniors from unscrupulous “trust mills.”
  • SB 5228, allowing the Attorney General to sue on behalf of indirect purchasers of goods or services sold in violation of the Unfair Business Practices - Consumer Protection Act, has passed the Senate and is scheduled for a hearing in the House Judiciary Committee at 8 a.m. on March 23.

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For more information contact, Janelle Guthrie, APR, Communications Director | Office of State Attorney General Rob McKenna | Phone: (360) 586-0725 | Cell: (360) 584-3046 | E-mail: janelleg@atg.wa.gov
Join Attorney General Rob McKenna's Listserv for the latest news from the AG's office or visit our Web site at www.atg.wa.gov


 

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