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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 13, 2008
2008 consumer protection and community safety priorities head to Governor

OLYMPIA… As the Legislature brought the gavel down on another session, Attorney General Rob McKenna was pleased his consumer protection and community safety priorities were continuing through the process and off to the governor’s desk for signature.

Highlights:

  • Consumer Protection: 
    • SB 5878 – Assisting ID theft victims -  Incorporates two AG request bills and requires police to file police reports for victims of identity theft to help them clear their names and also allows prosecutors to bring separate charges against an accused identity thief for each use of an individual’s information. This bill reverses policy set in State v. Leyda (2006) where the Supreme Court held that a defendant can only be charged once—even when the ID is used multiple times.
    • HB 2637- Promoting ID theft prosecutions- Allows records provided by out-of-state businesses to be authenticated by affidavit--rather than in person--in criminal cases to reduce time and expense in bringing ID theft prosecutions.
    • HB 2791 – Preventing mortgage rescue schemes-  Would among other things:
      • Require a written contract with clearly disclosed terms--signed and dated by the homeowner and the purchaser prior to the property’s transfer
      • Provide the foreclosed homeowner with the right to cancel the contract within five business days
      • Require that the homeowner must receive at least 82 percent of the difference between the property’s fair market value and the underlying mortgage in the event of a sale to a third party
    • HB 2879- Shutting down spyware – Closes loopholes and remedies weaknesses in Washington’s spyware laws to improve the Attorney General's Office's ability to bring cases.
    • HB 2479 – Prohibiting 3rd-party marketing of cell phone numbers – Requires people who compile, market or sell phone numbers for commercial purposes to also obtain a consumer’s opt-in consent before publishing wireless phone numbers in directories.
  • Community Safety:

Disappointments:

  • Community Safety:
    • The Senate failed to pass HB 2565, a House-approved community safety bill including two priorities requested by the Attorney General  to protect children:
      • Making “viewing child pornography” a felony, similar to possession
      • Giving law enforcement greater ability to investigate by protecting non-commissioned personnel who view pornography as part of an investigation.

“I was disappointed this bill failed to pass,” McKenna said. “It was an important recommendation of our Youth Internet Safety Task Force’s law enforcement group and we will pursue it in 2009.”

  • Government Accountability:
    • The Legislature choose not to approve any of the Attorney General’s open government package, including:
      • Protecting private property by:
        • Redefining "blight" narrowly to apply to specific properties and not general areas that might include non-blighted land.
        • Prohibiting the use of eminent domain for private redevelopment.
        • Requiring governments to publish a pamphlet in plain language explaining eminent domain for people who learn their property is subject to it.
      • Requiring an audio recording of complete executive sessions to ensure compliance with the OPMA and provide governments with additional record-keeping capability on sensitive topics.
      • Directing the Attorney General’s Office to develop advisory model rules by Feb. 1, 2009, for the Open Public Meetings Act (OPMA).
      • Requiring the Attorney General’s Office to publish a plain-language pamphlet explaining the OPMA.
      • Increasing public notice of special meetings by requiring agencies to:
        • Post a notice on the agency’s Web site. 
        • Post in an open area to the public at the agency’s main administrative office. 
        • Deliver written notice to each local newspaper of general circulation. 
        • Deliver notice to each local radio or television station only if the station has a request of file with the agency.
      • Require penalty awards won by an incarcerated person when an agency fails to meet public disclosure requirements be paid to the crime victims’ compensation program instead of to the inmate.

“While we are obviously disappointed, we look forward to continuing to work with legislators from both parties to achieve these important policy goals in the future,” McKenna said. “This office has had a solid history of passing relevant legislation to help  families in Washington and we thank the Legislature for working with us over the past several years.”

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For more information contact, Janelle Guthrie, APR, Communications Director
Phone: (360) 586-0725 | Cell: (360) 584-3046 | E-mail: janelleg@atg.wa.gov


 

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