Dear friends and neighbors:
We are nearing the halfway mark of the 105-day legislative session in Olympia. Our top priority this session has been to help the people of our state make it through the pandemic. The legislature passed and Gov. Inslee signed a $2.2 billion measure (HB 1368) to expand testing and vaccine distribution, provide support to schools, make grants available for small businesses, and help people meet basic needs with rental and food assistance. You can also call 211 or click here to find information about a wide range of assistance programs available.
In the last week, we have also been busy passing bills on the Senate floor in advance of an next week’s deadline to pass bills out of the chamber in which they were introduced.
Police accountability bills advance
As chair of the Senate Law and Justice Committee, I have spent most of my time this year focusing on policies to bring accountability and transparency to law enforcement agencies in our state. Last week, my bill (SB 5051) to provide timely and effective enforcement of state standards for law enforcement officers passed the Senate and now moves to the House for consideration. The Seattle Times said that the bill could “transform Washington’s police oversight agency from an anemic watchdog into a formidable instrument for police accountability”. After months of collaboration with community members and other lawmakers, I am proud to see this important measure take another step toward becoming law in Washington. You can watch my floor speech on the bill here.
This bill is part of a comprehensive approach we are taking this session to rebuild trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve. Here are the other measures making their way through the legislature:
- SB 5066 would establish clear standards for police officers to intervene when fellow officers use force unjustly and to report any wrongdoing by fellow officers. This bill has passed the Senate.
- SB 5259 would establish comprehensive statewide reporting and publication for use-of-force incidents involving law enforcement. The bill has passed the Senate.
- HB 1054 would ban the use of chokeholds, neck restraints, unleashed police dogs, no-knock warrants, and military equipment, as well as the practice of officers intentionally concealing their badges. This bill has passed the House.
- SB 5089 would increase minimum age and education requirements for new police officers.
- HB 1088 would shed light on officers who are not credible witnesses because of their previous conduct. This bill has passed the House.
- HB 1089 would allow the state auditor to review deadly force investigations by local law enforcement. This bill has passed the House.
- HB 1202 would creating a state civil cause of action for people killed or injured by police.
- HB 1203 would mandate community oversight boards for departments with more than 15 officers.
- HB 1267 would mandate the independent investigation of deadly uses of force, custodial deaths, and other officer-involved incidents.
- HB 1310 would set forth a standard of care for the use of force by police.
- SB 5263 would modify a 1986 law that prevents recovery of damages from police departments for people who have been killed or injured by police.
Town Hall on March 13
I hope that you will join Rep. Frank Chopp, Rep. Nicole Macri, and me for our 43rd District virtual town hall meeting on Saturday, March 13, from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. Please submit any questions you have ahead of time at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/MRKT88X. You can watch and participate on Facebook or YouTube. I look forward to seeing you there!
Stay safe and healthy and please don’t hesitate to reach out to me with any questions or concerns.
Senator Jamie Pedersen
43rd Legislative District