| Attorney General Rob McKenna (second from left) is joined by Ken Miller (right) and his family as Gov. Gregoire signs HB 1458--requiring notice in eminent domain proceedings.|
Attorney General Rob McKenna, Ken Miller and his family today joined Gov. Chris Gregoire as she signed into law a new notice requirement for property owners whose land has been targeted for government projects.
The new law (HB 1458 ) stemmed from the Miller v. Sound Transit decision by the Washington State Supreme Court, in which the court ruled the Sound Transit board had provided adequate notice of a meeting where it was deciding to use its eminent domain powers to take Miller’s property by simply posting the notice on its Web site.
Demonstrating solid bi-partisan support, McKenna and Gregoire jointly requested legislation to remedy this situation by requiring government entities who will be considering acquiring specific properties by eminent domain to:
• Send a certified letter (costing $4.64) to the property owner of record on the county tax rolls, notifying him or her of the open public meeting to decide the issue; and
• Publish a short newspaper legal notice before the meeting.
| Attorney General Rob McKenna chats with House Majority Leader and co-sponsor of HB 1458, Rep. Lynn Kessler.|
This bill and its companion were sponsored by more than 90 legislators from both political parties, including Rep. Kevin Van De Wege, D-Sequim, and Rep. Lynn Kessler, D-Hoquiam, in the House of Representatives and Sen. Mike Carrell, R-Tacoma, in the Senate.
“Ken and Barbara Miller are tremendously strong and positive people, who should be commended for their work to prevent others from experiencing the same frustration they faced,” McKenna said. “It is difficult enough to learn your property may be taken by eminent domain. It’s not too much to ask a government entity to send a $4.64 letter to warn someone you’re planning to take their land.”
| Attorney General Rob McKenna and Sen. Mike Carrell, who sponsored the Senate version of HB 1458.|
"It is stressful and challenging to be told that you have to leave your land, regardless of the reason," Gregoire said. "We must act with compassion and respect when dealing with a situation that is personal and sensitive for families. This bill is about basic fairness and responsibility."
The Governor signed two other Attorney General-request bills today as well.
House Bill 1114 (prime-sponsored by Rep. Jay Rodne, R-Snoqualmie and co-sponsored by Rep. Jim Moeller, D-Vancouver) protects vulnerable adults from trust mill scams by making it illegal for anyone other than an attorney or a professional employed by an attorney to market legal estate distribution documents such as living trusts and wills. A companion measure was sponsored in the Senate by Sen. Adam Kline, D-Seattle.
A revocable living trust – not to be confused with a living will – allows a person to control distribution of his or her estate by transferring ownership of property and assets into a trust.
McKenna said state agencies have seen a rise in scams involving salespeople who exploit seniors’ fears that their estates could be eaten up by probate costs or distribution of their assets could be delayed for years. While pushing the sale of living trusts, these salespeople also use financial information to promote reverse mortgages and high-commission annuities that often aren’t in consumers’ best interests.
“This important law protects seniors in our state from unscrupulous salespeople who push the sale of living trusts to people who often don’t need them,” McKenna said. “The Attorney General’s Office has been bringing cases against trust mills for more than a decade. By ensuring that only legal professionals can market living trusts or other estate distribution documents, we have a new tool to prevent cons from seeking to profit at the expense of our state’s elderly and vulnerable consumers.”
Senate Bill 5228 (co-sponsored by Kline and Sen. Bob McCaslin, R-Spokane Valley) protects Washington businesses, state agencies and individual consumers by amending the antitrust statute to codify the Attorney General’s common law authority to pursue monetary claims on behalf of indirect purchasers (businesses, agencies, and individuals) harmed by violations of antitrust law.
In the last six years, the AGO has recovered nearly $48 million in monetary relief for those indirectly harmed by antitrust violations. Examples include:
• $6.2 million in the Vitamins multi-state litigation, which involved vitamin price-fixing allegations
• $1 million (with an additional $520,000 for state agencies) in the Mylan multi-state litigation, which involved allegations of anti-competitive drug-pricing
A court recently challenged the AG’s authority to protect indirect purchasers so this new law will allow the office to continue the practice.
Contact: Janelle Guthrie, AG Communications Director, (360) 586-0725